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The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning Hardcover – July 11, 2011
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[Nelson’s] critiques of individual artists are delightfully fierce without being mean spirited… Fascinating and bracingly intelligent…The Art of Cruelty’s prose is often gorgeous. — Troy Jollimore (Boston Globe)
A lean-forward experience, and in its most transcendent moments, reading it can feel like having the best conversation of your life. — Rachel Syme (NPR Books)
I hope that critics, and aspiring critics, and those who are interested in the relationship between art and ethics, read [The Art of Cruelty]. — Susie Linfield (New Republic)
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Top Customer Reviews
The larger thesis is an examination of the merits and drawbacks of performance art as practiced by the " Viennese Actionist" group and their inheritors, such as Vito Acconi.
I found this book valuable because as a reader of modern literature, I could relate to many figures Nelson discusses whom I have familiarity with: Sylvia Plath, Mary Gaitskill, Elfriede Jellinek---as well as artists I had researched like Diane Arbus and Ana Mendieta. Nelson also introduced me to many writers and artists that were new to me, like Ivy Compton-Burnett and William Pope.L.
Because Nelson is a feminist, and because she is concerned with the degree to which "the avant-garde fetish of terrorizing the audience" has penetrated our culture at large, it is easy to accuse her of being politically correct. The truth is that she makes it a point to criticize the modern college faculty practice of reprimanding students for transgressing borders of propriety, because she knows that runs very contrary to the encouragement of artistic expression.
Still, she is concerned with the 'adolescent' practice of artists who bludgeon their audiences with shock for its own sake, and her solution is simple.Read more ›
This book indeed has great potential. While I am not debating her reckoning, I have trouble with the structure and the indistinguishable principles she takes up. Nelson spends a considerable time in preparatory research, which is evident from the hundreds of quotes and names of artists, philosophers and critics that she includes in the book. But the problem with so much material packed into a 297 page book (Kindle edition) is that her own voice too often becomes merely the link between the notes and data she has collected; not enough in-depth exploration is offered. There is also the high possibility of misrepresentation from quotes taken out of context. In my opinion, it's a lot more fun, when an author is as intelligent as Nelson, to deliberately choose more aggressive demonstration AND an assertively articulate, restrained premise.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I hand-picked this book for a class requirement to review a book, so I read it a bit beyond my more comfortable reading speed. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Blaze Gottschalk
Slips thoughts into your head and gives you loads of leads to check out many, many kinds of art. Hopeful and realistic.Published 8 months ago by David Bernier
Maggie Nelson’s The Art of Cruelty was an entertaining light read, but I don’t foresee the book having much enduring value either with scholars or popular readers, not least... Read morePublished on December 10, 2013 by Reader in Virginia
if you are looking for a contemporary book that deals with the relationship between violence, cruelty, art and mainstream media, this book is for you.Published on January 8, 2013 by wendy tronrud
While this writer is clearly a brilliant person, she is not a clear writer. She has written about a very interesting topic in a manner more akin to a doctoral dissertation than to... Read morePublished on August 15, 2011 by Karla