Contemporary Art: A Very Short Introduction, Paperback

Contemporary Art: A Very Short Introduction Paperback

Part of the Very Short Introductions series

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Contemporary art has never been so popular - but what is 'contemporary' about contemporary art?

What is its role today, and who is controlling its future?

Bloody toy soldiers, gilded shopping carts, and embroidered tents.

Contemporary art is supposed to be a realm of freedom where artists shock, break taboos, flout generally received ideas, and switch between confronting viewers with works of great emotional profundity and jaw-dropping triviality.

But away from shock tactics in the gallery, there are many unanswered questions.

Who is really running the art world? What effect has America's growing political and cultural dominance had on art?

Julian Stallabrass takes us inside the international art world to answer these and other controversial questions, and to argue that behind contemporary art's variety and apparent unpredictability lies a grim uniformity.

Its mysteries are all too easily explained, its depths much shallower than they seem.

Contemporary art seeks to bamboozle its viewers while being the willing slave of business and government.

This book is your antidote and will change the way you see contemporary art. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area.

These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly.

Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 168 pages, 24 halftones
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Art & design styles: from c 1960
  • ISBN: 9780192806468



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This book is less about art works than it is about the art world. It attempts to evaluate the art world's self-images, and to explain the art-world economy and its place in global political economies. It is a dense book, requiring close attention to keep up with the strands of argument; but it does not reek of social-scientific verbosity. Even if one finally rejects all or part of the argument, it will have made one do some hard thinking. I had been looking for a book that would explain to me why I should give a rat's backside about art critics' and curators' evaluations of contemporary art. This provided a partial answer to that question. I thought that the argument is well-made. I wish it were more comprehensive, but then it <B>is</B> constrained by being an introduction and by being about <B>contemporary</B> art. I know I did not fully understand it the first time through, so I will have to read it again. I look forward to doing so.

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