The Last Newspaper: Newspapers as art

The New Museum has an exhibition titled “The Last Newspaper” featuring the work of artists who use (and abuse) the daily newspaper in their art practices.  It is certainly not a new idea to incorporate newspapers into art; artists have always found ways to incorporate everyday materials such as newspapers into their artwork. However, the theme of the exhibit makes one think about the fate of newspapers, and what the newspaper means to us in terms of its physical form.

Adrian Piper, Vanilla Nightmares #9, 1986. Collection Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis, T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2004

I think an interesting question is how newspapers are depicted in artwork, not how newspapers are used as a material or medium. For instance, reading has always been a part of our lives, reflected in artwork, such as the Young Woman Reading a Book by Renoir (1800s) and Le Petit Journal by Soitzner (1900s).

Renoir's Young Woman Reading a Book (left) and Konstantin Soitzner's Le Petit Journal (right)

What kind of portraiture will we see in the 2000s?Already technology has evolved so much: in a retrospect of the 2000s will we see paintings of people reading on their laptops,  e-books, mobile phone, public digital displays, or whatever the next new invention will be? In that sense, I feel that this exhibition is entirely appropriate and consistent with its title because the homage to the last newspaper is not about news, but about the paper. We will never stop reading, but we may change how we read.

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