"One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art," the essay definitely came first. Manny Farber (1917-2008) was a noted critic of art and especially of film, as well as a talented and prolific painter, whose maverick style in both pigment and prose was impassioned and subversive, academically rigorous and flat-out gorgeous. In 1962 he wrote a landmark essay in which he coined the phrase "termite art" in making a case for visual and cinematic art that luxuriates in details of ordinary existence rather than chasing the elusive, vainglorious masterpiece. Directly inspired by the ideas Farber laid out, this exhibit was curated by Helen Molesworth and Rebecca Lowery (who leads tonight's walkthrough), and features examples of Farber's work along with some 30 other artists working in painting, sculpture, photography, film, video and sound, dating from the 1950s to the present.
Most of the time, curators have an idea and organize an exhibition, and then a prominent critic or historian will write an essay contextualizing its ideas. While not quite a full reversal, in the case of