15 Smart Books About Contemporary Art

Art since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism» by Hal Foster, Rosalind E. Krauss

Innovative content-wise and form, book «Art Since 1900» is already acknowledged milestone in the art history. For its second edition, Hal Foster, Rosalind E. Krauss, Yves-Alain Bois and Benjamin Heinz-Dieter Bocholt, the leading historians of art and criticism of our time, specified and widen their initial texts, let alone added the edition through the newest tendencies of contemporary art. In the company of David Joselit they suggest a reader the fullest as of today critical history of art XX — the beginning of XXI century. One hundred and twenty-two chapters, lined up chronologically, year after year overlook the key events in art, whether that be creation of a landmark book, publication of an important content or opening of a groundbreaking exhibition, making not one but many histories of art during a period since 1900 to the present day. All the defining moments and breakthrough of modernism and postmodernism go under fundamental analysis, let alone anti-modernism reactions, performing with alternative takes on art and world from time to time.

A flexible structure of a book with cross references will allow a reader to choose a course of one’s own while learning art of ХХ — the beginning of XXI century supported by one of a few scenarios such as history of a certain medium for example painting; development of art in a certain country; evolution of this or that direction, for example, surrealism; forming of a single stylistic or conceptual body of works, for example, cerebralism or minimalism. There are the main methodologies in the four introductions, directing the history of present-day art: it will help a reader to understand today`s critical approaches better. Within the two roundtables, the authors discuss some issues, opened by the art of the first and second half of XX century, let alone come up with a suggestion about the future. Additional information about outside, but important for the history of art events, places and people are given in text boxes, dashed line accompanying the text. There is a glossary at the bottom of the volume, explaining several key concepts of the book, rich bibliography on its topics and a list of the main online art resources.

Considered to be a final paper in its area for the moment, the book «Art since 1900» will be useful for everyone who would like to be familiar with art cobwebs of the modern era. The edition contains 744 illustrations, including 510 coloured ones.

«The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths» (2003) by Rosalind E. Krauss

A premium example of poststructural cultural criticism is the best-known book of the biggest analyst of contemporary art Rosalind Krauss represents a collection of essays, written and published primarily in the 1980`s. Krauss analyzes the most diverse plots of the history of art modernism from Duchamp and Giacometti to Sol LeWitt and Ellsworth Kelly. However, exploring the art of XX century, she constantly throws into question the position of the explorer oneself, those conceptual frames, within which the exploration goes.

Whether it is possible to interpret in terms of art what was not art initially but became so in the eyes of descendants? What is more important in studying an artist`s activity — the ups and downs of life or the ideological and historical situation, s/he reflected? What is the status of an original in the art of XX century and what makes an original different from a copy today? What crosscutting motives of modernism art tell us about? This is the diversity of questions Krauss brings up in her essays. One meta-question stands behind this diversity, the key question of not this book only, but also the whole activity of the researcher: what does it mean to interpret an art? What is the role of a fine art expert in forming of our takes on the history of art?

«Against Interpretation and Other Essays» by Susan Sontag

The debut collection of essays written by Susan Sontag «Against Interpretation and Other Essays», which saw the light of day for the first time in 1966, is translated into seven languages at this point. It includes articles printed since 1962 up to 1965 in Partisan Review, New York Review of Books, Commentary, The Nation and other journals, dedicated to literature, theatre, visual art and cinema. Part of it — «Against Interpretation», «About style», «Notes of camp» — for fifty years, gone from the moment of being written, have become fundamental texts of contemporary culture and academic discourse and until now causes enormous intellectual controversy.

In an epilogue written for Spanish edition of the collection in 1996, Sontag notes that she was standing and is standing for diverse not uniform in composition culture». Indeed, a combination of characters, topics and phenomena, in which she applies in her texts, is impressive. Among them are Albert Camus and science fiction cinema, religion and psychoanalysis, happenings and Claude Lévi-Strauss. Nevertheless, similar interest for the most different cultural phenomena only emphasizes engagement and sincerity in her studies.

«What are you looking at? 150 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye» by Will Gompertz

This brilliant book is the answer for those who think that contemporary art is half nonsense for snobs half outright forgery. What is the point of Malevich`s Black Square? What did Andy Warhol mean featuring numberless tomato soup cans? Moreover, what with a urinal unit? In his entertaining and shocking at the same time story about one and a half century, history of contemporary art, Will Gompertz does not set himself a task to estimate these or those works. He provides readers with a «short course» of cultural codes-hints, allowing orienting oneself in contemporary art space, seeing what is shallow, and what a masterpiece is.

A beautiful language, a well-done translation. Smart, observant, witty and modern author. A perfect intelligibility, coherence, logic, with one`s eyes open, that it is necessary to explain really difficult, complex, let alone fleeting through time phenomena.

Will Gompertz is a feature editor of the Bi-Bi-Ci art department. Before this position in 2009, he worked for seven years as a director on media technologies of Tate London gallery, the most iconic museum of modern art in the world. A private poll, Creativity Magazine journal (New York) was mentioned among «50 the most creative thinking people of the world».

«Inside a painting: articles and dialogues about contemporary art» by Joseph Backstein

Joseph Backstein is one of the best-known participants of contemporary art process not only carried on within one country but also international: organizer of a few Moscow Biennale, director contemporary art problems Institute, curator and art critic, one of those who stood at the origins of the conceptual movement. The book made of his texts written at different time, for different reasons let alone fragments of interviews, is a portrait-collage of sorts where a hero image stands out not just on the background of the history, he is art and part in to the core, but in a loose sense and measures proclaimed by him arts and crafts.

«Art Today. 1970-2005» by Brandon Taylor

The book written by a famous English fine art expert Brandon Taylor is dedicated to the art of the last three decades. This is the time when the world went through big changes. High-tech solutions, Internet, worsening of social contradictions, inter-religious conflicts — these all caused new tendencies in painting and sculpture, cinema and photography.

The author tells about what has already become classic and what just begins to be called art. The text is accompanied by the extensive illustrative material.

«The $12 Million Stuffed Shark. The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art» by Donald Thompson

Donald Thompson is Harvard professor, a known expert of contemporary art. In his book, he paints in the details about all the components of the contemporary art world: dealers, auction houses, galleries, collectors, art brands and emerging artists. ТThompson provides with scandal details and opens a shocking truth in front of reader`s eyes about market mechanisms of the art business.

«The Supermodel and the Brillo Box. Back Stories and Peculiar Economics from the World of Contemporary Art» by Donald Thompson

A distinguished work of art expert Donald Thompson is the author of a bestseller «The $12 Million Stuffed Shark» immerses a reader into auction world, marketing and the art market. Honestly, оwitty and rough he tells about how due to noise and scandals, names of contemporary artists become brands and why strange the least or better to say fearsome anti-esthetic works are for sale for stratospheric prices, and about who buys them and what motivates the customers. Thompson draws attention to the growing impact of super dealers and duopoly of the biggest auction houses, muse over the problems of underpinning works of art, and how reputations are built and ruined, about a backroom deal in the world of art. Among his information sources dealers, ex and present workers of auction houses and galleries from New York to Abu-Dabi and Beijing.

«Speed! Money and the Global Art Market» (2011) by Piroshka Dossi

Criminative documentary thriller about the conspiracy of silence between an artist, gallerist, collector, museum and аuction. In his research, for the public, Piroshka Dossi tries to open secrets of the system, which allows artists to earn millions and makes men of mould resent the fact of these millions, received «for nothing».
Professionally attracting data from the area of economics, sociology, psychology and history of art, Dossi analyzes the phenomenon of trade «lasting values» itself, the core of these very «lasting values», let along those changes, which happens to the market in the light of technical and social progress.

An ironic essay about how the cost for art objects is formed and how the most subjunctive and weird out of the markets functions — a contemporary art market — must have for all Europeans who are interested. In the majority of museums of Germany, for instance, there are always three canonical texts in every bookstore — Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag and Piroshka Dossi.

«Radical Museology or, What’s Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art? By Claire Bishop

A City College professor of New-York Claire Bishop about the problem of a periodization of contemporary art and about what it means, «to be contemporary».

In the book «Radical Museology» Bishop newly handles «contemporaneity» in contemporary art, analyzes curator practices, defines the role of a museum in public life, and on the example of the three at the first sight not looking similar museums (The Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Queen Sophia Museum in Madrid and contemporary art museum Metelkova in Ljubljana) tells about how to cope with cuts in the budget, how to newly approach a spectacular, what contemporary museum collection and exhibition practices should be.

«Nobrow: the culture of marketing, the marketing of culture» by John Seabrook

An American culture expert, journalist and New Yorker journal columnist John Seabrook found the word, which fits best of all for a description of contemporary culture and it is nobrow: highbrow and lowbrow, and even not middlebrow, but existing beyond old hierarchy of taste.
In his book, Seabrook writes about a crash of custom cultural hierarchy of high and low, elite and mass, good and bad taste. Today, cultural products let alone other products, cars, clothes and shoes, interior design items comply with marketing criteria: fashionable/non-fashionable, for sale/not for sale. Instead of a custom hierarchy of «high» (elite) and «low» (mass) culture, a joint field of culture nobrow came along.

«Non-classic lexicon. The artistically aesthetic culture of XX century» edited by a philosopher, aesthetic historian V. V. Buchkova

Encyclopedic scientifically informational conceptual research, dedicated to the biggest in the history of culture transitional period — artistically aesthetic culture of XX century — from classic Culture to essentially other aesthetic perception and art processes of the industrially-computer civilization of XXI century. An open hypertext corroding with each other and another intertextual phenomenon of articles, defining specificity, main tendencies, movements, discourse, confirmed for their definition, let alone the main personalia of the artistically aesthetic culture of XX century within a context of the main paradigm of European classical tradition, as its logically a logical conclusion. At that, the main attention is paid namely forward-looking, neo-classic, post classic phenomena and personalities, characteristic more than hundred-year-old process of movement in cultural space: avant-garde — modernism — пpostmodernism, in the areas of aesthetic perception and visual arts, foremost, but also in literature and music from symbolism and impressionism to art-projects of the end of XX century. The articles of the Lexicon take into consideration the newest achievements in the area of humanities knowledge, written in accessible language, provided with rich bibliography.

«Aesthetics of performativity» by Erika Fischer-Lichte

In 2004 году in Suhrkamp publisher’s results of 10-year old research by outstanding German dramatic historian Erika Fischer-Lichte were released, a book titled as Aesthetics of performativity. A phenomenon of performance in contemporary artistic culture is studied in the work. The author considers the art of performance with no less careful attention, that is considered in science in relation to traditional kinds of art; exploring the origin of performance and its contemporary existence, and jumps to a conclusion about the necessity to create a new aesthetics, capable of describing it and explaining. The book is for everyone who is interested in performance, its place in contemporary culture, let alone Fringe Theater and new shapes of artistic practice in the broad sense of the word.

«Postmodernism. Art of the second half of ХХ — the beginning of XXI century» by Ekaterina Andreeva

The book by Е. Andreeva about the international visual art of the second half of XX — the beginning of XXI century is dedicated to the search of an answer to a question: what is considered «contemporary» in every given historical moment? A reader is suggested to go through a unique trip via several layers of contemporaneity from 1940`s up today. Studying the change of contemporary art concepts, the author tells a story of its main movements: abstract painting, pop art, the Ne-Dada movement, minimalism, conceptualism, land-art, political and feminist art, appropriations and video art. The activity of Russian artists is considered as componential part by global evolution of current interest art for the first time. The book is illuminated and addressed to everyone who is interested in ideas and problems of contemporary artistic creation.

Ekaterina Andreeva was born January 24, 1961, in Leningrad. She is an art critic, curator, fine art expert, specialist on the Russian and foreign art of XX-XXI centuries, art history PhD, holds a doctorate in philosophy, leading research worker of State Russian Museum modernism department.

«Styles, Schools and Movements: The Essential Encyclopaedic Guide to Modern Art» by Amy Dempsey

The book written by Amy Dempsey represents an encyclopedia of art in its all shapes and sizes. Offered in the book code of 300 styles, schools and movements gives an idea about profound lines of development in painting, sculpture, аarchitectureе and design of one of the most dynamic and entertaining periods of art history. There are market positions in the key articles of the book dedicated to 100 and more significant styles and movements developed in artistic manifests, critics` thoughts, dramatic events are described, connected with exhibitions, rousing or public outcry.

Such unique phenomena as expressionism and modernism, Art Brut and Funk Art, high tech and Internet art, art of performance and peculiarities of Amsterdam school, synthetism and Italian Novecento, Group 7 and socialist realism, art deco and pop art, kitchen sink realism and New Brutalism, cubism and Nabis, concrete art and installation, post-painterly abstraction and body art are spotlighted in the book. Everything that affected and keeps on affecting artists, photographers, writers, custom spectaculars, readers and customers. The book is interesting because it gives a short insight not only into the history of art, occupation and development of all civilization but also shows tight and inseparable entwinement of this very art and life.

About the author: Melisa Marzettis all about writing, cooking and travelling. Currently working as a freelance writer for http://smartessayrewriter.com/ she learns how to cook Sri Lankan dishes and planning on visiting the place and writing a book. She likes to meditate and imagine things she wants to have to try to think positively and hold on to a belief in the fact that she can do it.

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