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The Shock of the New Paperback – August 13, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; Rev Sub edition (August 13, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679728767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679728764
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of The Fatal Shore and Time magazine's art critic here presents a greatly expanded version of a PBS television series on modern art, and includes some 270 color illustrations. Although he frequently deals in generalities, "choice anecdotes, telling characterizations, witty observations flow from his pen," lauded PW . The "chapters bristle with apt insights."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

A beautifully illustrated hundred-year history of modern art, from cubism to pop and avant-guard. More than 250 color photos.

More About the Author

Robert Hughes was born in Australia in 1938 and has lived in Europe and the United States since 1964. Since 1970 he has worked in New York as an art critic for Time Magazine. He has twice received the Franklin Jeweer Mather Award for Distinguished Criticism from the College Art Association of America.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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To be a good TV program, it should have a clear and plain storyline which could fit into limited timetable.
Suckwoo Lee
Also unique and priceless is Hughes' puckish sense of humor and willingness to express an opinion - even a negative opinion - about art and architectural movements.
Michael E. McCarthy
For those of you that are also very opinionated, to the point of not wanting to hear other points of view, stay away from this book and video.
Carbonadam

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. McCarthy on November 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
I bought and read the first edition of this book after seeing the 1979 PBS series Hughes hosted, and I heartily recommend both book (which I still have) and the TV show if you can find it anywhere. Hughes' special brilliance is his ability to show the revolution in art at the turn of the 20th century as reacting to the revolution in technology and living standards and the rapid changes in every part of society -- the "shock" of this race to "newnesss" that really starting picking up speed a hundred years ago. Also unique and priceless is Hughes' puckish sense of humor and willingness to express an opinion - even a negative opinion - about art and architectural movements.
This is art history for the intelligent nonartist -- you will greatly enjoy it!
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
Robert Hughes manages to do what no other contemporary critics can, see painting as a painter does, rather than as a writer--writing about painting. As someone who makes my living as a painter, I'm always frustrated by the clueless interpretations of art historians and especially critics. Often, they simply don't get it! They're looking for philosophic meaning in every nuance of a painting, when any honest painter would tell you, sometimes "It's just because it looked good like that!" I would highly recommend Mr. Hughes's book. It is a very sensible, insightful, and readable text. As a painter, I was very impressed by his observations and how he managed to communicate some idea of how painters actually create their work. (Critics would have you believe they start with a manifesto/theory/or other B.S. It's usually a lot less mysterious than that and Hughes does a great job of demystifying it. Also, it's a great book to show someone the purpose and value of art since 1900. Great Book!
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Lesley West on March 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a famous art text and justly so. If you are wondering "just what is this modern art stuff?", this book will help you. If you are thinking "I don't know much about art but I know what I like" this book will surprise you with its magnificent colour plates and images. Robert Hughes can write reviews for the art glitterati, but he can also write for the average person with an interest in Modern Art, and very well he does it too!
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By simoleon@sirius.com on September 10, 1997
Format: Paperback
Writers of fiction could go to school on Robert Hughes. In this book you run across description after description, phrase after phrase that prove the power of language while conveying the power of art, so many 'spot on' explications that one is left feeling nearly overwhelmed. Fittingly, language is at the center of one of his primary theses: That art invents the language that the world will then put into daily use. Shelley wrote that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world; Hughes might say that artists are their counterparts in the Supreme Court.
Hughes is a stern, hard-boiled man, whose readings are based on clearest common sense. Even while he's transported by the beauty of a Frankenthaler, he has one eye open to make sure he's not being conned. He brooks no insincerity or unnecessary pomposity. His happens to be the only sensibility with the power to bring art to the masses, which is why it's appropriate Hughes is on television reaching out to the masses again in 1997. Dogmatism throughout will probably rub some artists the wrong way, but for the novice like me, it clears aside rhetoric and creates access.
I came to modern art wondering why every museum displayed the same boring things; now I know why, and why it doesn't have to be so. This is the leaping-off point for which I've always been waiting.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book was assigned as a supplement to our main textbook (although we refer to it more often than our more stodgily written "main" text) in my contemporary art history class. I highly recommend it for novices to contemporary art history or even those more learned. It is concise--not too wordy. It neither scares you away nor bores you with super-intellectual jargon and babble. Plus, Mr. Hughes gives brief historical and cultural background information when describing certain movements. This is critical in understanding where/how the art originates.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Suckwoo Lee on July 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is based on the script for a BBC program. To be a good TV program, it should have a clear and plain storyline which could fit into limited timetable. You can identify such a feature in the form of book, though substantially enlarged. The author did his best to make a clear impression of what was modernism in the visual art on reader (and audience). The author begin the book with what modernist artists perceived as ¡®the new¡¯ in their time. They thought they lived in thoroughly distinct time from the tradition. The new age demanded the new art. Modernism is the logical upshot of their zeitgeist. To understand it, we should pay attention to the interaction between artists and the time.
In this regard, Hughes organized the book not in time order or changing styles but with keywords which summarize the zeitgeist of modernists like machine, power, pleasure, utopia, freedom, popular culture, or future, to endow the reader with the tangible vision to see into the deep question of modernism.
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