Edited by Lisa Phillips, Johanna Burton, and Alicia Ritson, with Kate Wiener. Getty Research Institute, September 2019. 278 p. ill. ISBN 9781606065969 (pbk), $40.00.
Reviewed January 2020
Virginia Feher, Head Librarian & Associate Professor, University of North Georgia, Oconee Campus, Virginia.Feher@ung.edu
Marcia Tucker (1940–2006) was the founder and first director of the New Museum, a contemporary art museum in New York City currently located on the Bowery in Manhattan. Prior to founding the New Museum in 1977, Tucker was one of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s first female curators, working there from 1968 until she was fired in 1975 after a controversial Richard Tuttle exhibit. Current and former employees of the New Museum compiled Out of Bounds both to honor Tucker’s legacy and to complete Tucker’s plan to publish a collected works volume.
A feminist and visionary, Marcia Tucker was considered radical and outspoken for her time. Her writings remain relevant for our time because as a society we still struggle with the issues Tucker discusses, such as women’s and LGBTQ rights, how technology is changing us as humans, and the relevance of contemporary art for the citizenry. Publishing Out of Bounds was clearly a labor of love on the editors’ part, and the result is a testament to Tucker’s contributions to contemporary art and the museums in which they reside.
Out of Bounds includes two forwards, an introduction by the editors, and three sections of Tucker’s writings that were originally published in art magazines and exhibition catalogs, as well as unpublished lectures. Her writings, dated from 1969 to 2004, are organized thematically and then chronologically, with notes at the end of each. The first section features essays on the work of individual artists; the second offers essays on the “dynamic reflections on artistic responses to cultural movements”; and the third covers a variety of topics of concern to the art world and beyond, consisting mainly of unpublished lectures. The essays from exhibition catalogs contain numerous detailed descriptions of specific works of art without a corresponding image, but each essay includes enough images to provide context. Tucker’s descriptions are vivid and expressive, providing the reader with sufficient information to understand her critiques.
The book concludes with a chronological list of Tucker’s writings, her biography, illustration and text credits, and a six-page index. The volume offers forty-six illustrations, ranging from a quarter to full-page, of artworks and photographs, mainly in color. The paper is good quality. One possible annoyance is that the book cover values form over function (a concept mentioned in more than one essay) in that it has a second cover unattached to the spine that folds out, revealing a two-page photograph of Marcia Tucker, but which impedes comfortable reading at
This reviewer recommends Out of Bounds for art and museum libraries as well as libraries at universities with visual arts programs.