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This is Modern Art Paperback – March 28, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson (March 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841881007
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841881003
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 7.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,467,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Matthew Collings is an artist, art historian and cultural critic. He used to present The Late Show and presents on Channel 4 London's most important art prize, the Turner Prize. His first book, Blimey! on the London Artworld from Bacon to Hirst was extremely well received and the first book to be published by 21, the publishing company set up by David Bowie and Modern Painters.

Customer Reviews

You would imagine the decision as to what to put on the front cover would be difficult.
Peter Cramer
The book is full of phrases and sentence construction that is made for the ear, not text that has been written to be read.
Gordon Thomas
This book is an absolute must-have for anyone interested in the exploding modern art scene.
"chrismoffatt"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Peter Cramer on May 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is Modern Art, Matthew Collings. Weidenfield & Nicholson, London, 1999.
Matthew Collings tramples through art theory like a Contiki Tour guide traipsing across Europe, and has as much fun. Each country is a movement described in three sentences or less. Each artist an old monument, pointed out and discarded in one line. On the right Francis Bacon, his art is "something nasty inside something geometric." On the left, Mark Rothko who was "always incredibly depressed." "Dali is the lowest of the low." Over there Postmodernism, but that's another series. If you want the best of Europe in six days, with a voice over, do a tour. If you want modern art stunningly concise and simplified with a smile, then This is modern art is for you.
This book was written as an accompaniment to the Channel 4 series of the same name. Each chapter mirrors an episode. Each episode traces a bizarre thread of logic through art history. Chapter two "Shock, Horror" scans the fright value of art. From the paintings of Francis Goya, "Dismemberment is always a shock" to Damien Hirst's dissected farmyard friends. "Is he a great artist? Phew, that's a hard one." Collings colourfully ponders absurd notions and unanswerable questions. "We know Matisse was a great artist of beautiful colour and patterns. But we are not sure what to do with him......."
It's a surprisingly refreshing tour for first timers or those who don't care, but it's freak show theory for those who do. He writes with the authority of a celebrity gardener. "I might catch myself believing Jeff Koons is a genius because of the weird way he talks...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pumpkin King on September 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is very idiosyncratic look at art today, and in it, Matthew Collings chooses several issues about art to discuss: Shock, beauty, emptiness of meaning, humor, and the present. His writing can be annoying, sounding almost like Warhol in his "Philosophy of Andy Warhol" with short, witty, curious phrases, and a distant, ironic humor that can sound condescending or careless. Still, it turns out to be insightful and entertaining, and even informative. It isn't that you learn something profound about how to see art or understand it. Rather, it's like having a conversation (albeit one way) about art and particular artworks with someone who has a lot of knowledge about art and is often very perceptive. Along the way, you learn about recent artists such as Chris Ofili, Sigmar Polke, and Richard Prince, as well as past artists like Pollock, Picasso, and Goya. The pictures are good too. But it's just a fun look into the issues that modern (or post-modern) art tries to tackle, and some things to think about the next time you visit a modern art museum. Again, it's idiosyncratic and personal, so it's only one person's take on artists and art.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gordon Thomas on September 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
'This is Modern Art' is a book accompanying the ch.4 TV series of the same name, and this fact became all too obvious after I purchased it. The text does not read well: it seems as though the publishers have lifted Matthew Collins' voice-over from the TV programmes and transcribed it directly onto the pages of the book. Sure, there are plenty of nice photorgraphs and the tone is lively and informative, but reading the book - actually reading the text - is a strange experience as the words on the page do not work as words on a page: I kept wanting to read aloud and listen to myself speaking. The book is full of phrases and sentence construction that is made for the ear, not text that has been written to be read.
The TV series was very good, but sadly this book is too close to a script of that series - and not what it should be: a BOOK about Modern Art.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "chrismoffatt" on August 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is an absolute must-have for anyone interested in the exploding modern art scene.
Collings is based in London, and with it's recently opened Tate Modern museum of Contemporary Art the content of this book seems even more appropriate.
Irreverant, humorous, fact-packed, entertaining and controversial, this book will lead you from Klein to Hirst to Picasso and back on a non-stop, roller coaster ride. Buy it.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ian Muldoon on December 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
As an antidote to art jargon that passes as "writing" whether in ART FORUM or in catalogues, Mr Collings' book is a refreshing RELIEF. Well illustrated examples which illuminate his arguments, clear division into six sections, and an open-endedness to many issues make this a very enjoyable and informative read for the lay person who loves art. I'm immediately passing it on to one of the people I value most in the world - my 17 year old son. Is there a better recommendation?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gordon Thomas on September 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
'This is Modern Art' is a book accompanying the ch.4 TV series of the same name, and this fact became all too obvious after I purchased it. The text does not read well: it seems as though the publishers have lifted Matthew Collings' voice-over from the TV programmes and transcribed it directly onto the pages of the book. Sure, there are plenty of nice photorgraphs and the tone is lively and informative, but reading the book - actually reading the text - is a strange experience as the words on the page do not work as words on a page: I kept wanting to read aloud and listen to myself speaking. The book is full of phrases and sentence construction that is made for the ear, not text that has been written to be read.
The TV series was very good, but sadly this book is too close to a script of that series - and not what it should be: a BOOK about Modern Art.
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