Lily Woodruff publishes at Duke University Press a remarkable book on French artists of the 1960s-1970s who challenged the power and legitimacy of art institutions in questioning, subversive and alternative practices. She analyzes the work of the Groupe de recherche en art visuels - le GRAV, of Daniel Buren, André Cadéré and the Collectif d'art sociologique. She demonstrates an exceptional knowledge of the intellectual debates of the time, from Guy Debord (La société du spectacle et l'Internationale situationniste) to Jean-François Lyotard (La condition postmoderne) including Edgar Morin, Maoism, Wilhelm Flusser and so many other leading actors of the debates of this effervescent period.
As far as the Collectif d'art sociologique is concerned, she analyses with great finesse the points of rapprochement and the divergences of the artists who constituted it, in relation to other artists of this period, notably from body art, as well as the analyses by the major art critics Pierre Restany, François Pluchart, Otto Hanh and Jean-Marc Poinsot.
The challenge was, especially for an American art historian, ambitious, the conflicts of ideas and people difficult to untangle and she takes it up in a limpid writing with a lot of finesse and objectivity. Being myself concerned, quoted and my work evoked and analysed, l give Lily Woodruff satisfaction for the attention she paid to my theoretical and artistic approaches and the accuracy of her words.
A very original, striking, lucid, balanced and fair book, which depicts an important moment in the history of art and ideas in France when the rebellion of May 1968 broke out.