In 1975, a small group of enterprising, discontented members of the international art community in Montreal posed the following question: "What do we know of contemporary art outside of Quebec, in Canada or abroad? Do we even know what contemporary art exists in Montreal? How does information about art circulate?" By way of an answer, the artistically unconventional and theoretically cutting-edge magazine “Parachute” was founded by Chantal Pontbriand and France Morin. The first significant critical reception of the work of artists such as General Idea, Jeff Wall, Stan Douglas, among many others, appeared in “Parachute.” Similarly, figures such as Thomas Crow, Thierry de Duve, Hal Foster, Reesa Greenberg, and Serge Guilbaut—all of whom have helped define the parameters of art history, theory, and practice—published rigorous, highly pertinent essays in the journal early on in their careers.
Following the three volumes entitled “Museums, Art History, and Theory, Performance & Performativity, and Photography, Film, Video, and New Media,” this last title of the “Parachute” anthology focuses on painting, sculpture, installation, and architecture: the so-called “traditional and academic media.” They are approached from several perspectives: from new theories of aesthetic production, especially painting, to the expansion of the art world to other artistic territories during the 1980s and 1990s (Russia and South America for instance), from the “lessons” of postmodernism to the definition and exhibition challenges caused by the proliferation of installation art. The essays discuss works by artists such as Lothar Baumgarten, Mona Hatoum, Guillermo Kuitca, Louise Lawler, Reinhard Mucha, Jackson Pollock, Robert Ryman, Michael Snow, Sots Art artists, and include two particularly seminal artist’s essays: Dan Graham on Gordon Matta-Clark, and Jeff Wall on Édouard Manet.
A contemporary art historian, critic, and curator, Chantal Pontbriand co-founded “Parachute” in 1975 and edited its 125 issues until 2007. The anthology is an invaluable document of the changes and transformations in both art practice and writing from 1975 to 2000.
The book is part of the "Documents" series, co-published with Les presses du réel and dedicated to critical writing.