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Publisher's Summary

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 audiobook 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 audiobooks 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 listenable.
In a hurry? Listen to more Very Short Introductions.
©2004 Julian Stallabrass (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Jean Payens on 07-30-17

Would not waste your money

Was expecting a focus on contemporary art what it is and what it isn't; in a little bit of the history behind it but way too much of this book is simply on the historicity and politics of selling artwork, how today's politics have affected these poor artist, etc. etc. very disappointed because most of these Oxford sure histories are pretty good this one is not one of them.

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3 out of 5 stars
By Maxwell on 01-18-14

Marxist critique of the power elites not much art.

What did you like best about Contemporary Art? What did you like least?

Not much on the vast range of emerging new and original ways and means that contemporary art encompasses, unless it fits the authors speciality- wherein he focuses on 'injustice' which is what the author was no doubt taught to do in the leftist halls of the institutions where he got the gig.... Hardcore Leftist 'visionaries' believe that man needs bread alone, never mind the the spirit. Which means that Julian isn't going to discuss what to my mind are the most relevant and hopeful artists. On the other hand, his critique of the worst art and the corrupt institutions that support it, is pretty on the money and if you too are interested in justice and unfairness and want to be able to blame someone other than the artists for buying into the decadent, irresponsible materialist/theory crap this is for you.

What was most disappointing about Julian Stallabrass’s story?

This tendentious Marxist view focuses on art makings context (it was fashionable for a while especially in the eighties in art schools/universities and did wonders to curb any individuality in the ambitious students) and a way of getting away from the idea of an original individual 'genius'. So there is very little on individual artists or art works or issues besides power and politics.But if you want to feel morally satisfied having been present as the finger was pointed and nothing changed this could suit. Ironically all the worst art from Marxist and Fascist periods regimes was all geared away from the individual toward the states political ideologies. Castro and Mao somehow spend a lot of time herein...thats Julians special interest.

What does James Conlan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He is pretty good considering the mono-dimensional approach relentlessly taken to the topic.

Do you think Contemporary Art needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

This view is seriously tired and can only really exist in institutional halls. I know, I am a trained art historian and an artist who lectured for 25 years, and worked with a number of the marxist theorists Julian mentions herein and eventually found myself unable to bare the suppression of alternate views in the 'system'. Ironically the best artists do not approach political power literally/directly. Oh how angry we were when Bob Dylan would not stand for a specific ideology! The only artist to be commissioned to do a work for the Louvre Anselm Kiefer is one of the myriad geniuses who created original deeply spiritual ways of addressing the modern political nightmare but who like so many others wont be mentioned herein- they don't suit the 'argument'.

Any additional comments?

I remember the director of the National School of Art in Dublin saying to the incoming artists among other things: If you want to save whales...go and do that don't bring it to art, its not what art is for or about.

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