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The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2000
The majority of the essays are well-written in an approachable rhetoric that can be understood by a reader with relatively limited knowledge of the subject-matter. It also serves as a concise anthology of essays written by some of the leading critical thinkers in this area, making this both an excellent introductory book as well as a collection worthy to be on the expert's shelf.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2006
This is a collection of essays that relate to contemporary art and concepts of postmodernism. Hal Foster (who wrote the acclaimed "Return of the Real") served as an editor for this book, although the writing itself is more diverse. There are a number of notable contributors represented, with a number of differing takes on art and culture post 1990's.

The most interesting articels in my opinion deal with "sculpure's expanded fields" (by Rosalind Krauss) and diverse gender and political issues. These essays express the sense that definitions and distinctions are blurring and fluid in postmodern society, which is a common theme throughout the book. The writing also frequently addresses discources outside of the art world, which is another element of the expanded roles of art and theory.

The writing can be a little dry at times, but overall I think it's worth the read, and a great reference for postmodern philosophy.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2011
Pros: Here is a collection of what some people thought about various art-forms in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The selection is broad, and at least a few of them are written to a conclusion, so can be said to have relevance. As for the thinking, it varies, with a few noteworthy exceptions that provide quite astute observations and predictions. For example, one essay compares the museum to the mausoleum for cultures that have perished, and upon entering a museum I see nothing but the objects from people that no longer exist. Or the essay on the continuing vagueness of sculpture, to the point where piles of string and holes in the ground qualify, leading ultimately to the loss of the art-form as subject of skill and expertise. Indeed, there are things to think about here, and if a book essays doesn't do that, it really is a poor selection.

Cons: On the other hand, there are essays here that defy description, either in execution or in conclusion. As one essay comments, many critics suffer from the very frailties they expose, and this is true of most of those presented here. The sense of pathos and futility is palpable throughout as each essayist is undermined by the prevailing culture they are trying to describe. One author even goes so far as to point out that his essay is only going to be read by a certain intellectual elite, and that elite all buy each others' stuff, which perpetuates their own myopic view, for the public lacks the necessary lexicon of obscure terms to make sense of, or even care about, the prevailing influences of literature and art. To be commercially viable, however, this is the nature of their world, and that world is more affected by the outside than the inside, so they end up mystifying the process to remain relevant.

Conclusion: The ideas are good, but the esoteric nature of the discussions renders 2/3 of the print trivial. This might be thought of as the opposite of Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" in that the language is so specific to describe the creative product of post-modernism that it escapes context entirely and some terms are found in these essays and never used again. This is a post-modern product, wherein categories cease to be clear and any foundation in critical discourse or previous authority is abandoned. One essay is literally a continuous barrage of quotations from other contemporary scholars, without ever stating anything authentically, which another essay points out as the post-modern mode of pastiche. The essays aren't devoid of meaning, then just often parody or caricature themselves as if it were a private joke that the reader is expected to understand. This will enlighten you to what postmodernism is about - unfortunately it explains at length its own trivial nature.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2013
The Anti-Aesthetic is truly an impressive anthology. The essays by Baudrillard and Frampton alone are enough to merit the purchase.
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on November 12, 2014
for my college student
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2011
Out of the nine essays in this book, only the contributions of Fredric Jameson and Edward Said are worth reading. Jameson speaks authoritatively on Star Wars and Body Heat, maintaining a high level of analysis on popular culture concepts. Said provides a fitting bookend, as he considers the problem that marks all the other authors in the book (except Jameson, whom he rightfully praises): namely, that they write for an increasingly small audience of their fellows, bound by the walls of their disciplines and separated from political life. He impliedly bashes the preceding authors, who deserve such a bashing, as their contributions range from pedantic to unintelligible. Baudrillard's "The Ecstasy of Communication" is not as bad as some of the essays by his less luminous fellow authors, but it is particularly cosmic and incoherent. Overall, this book is not worth reading.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2013
IT gave some intresting points. It made you think, really just needed it to pass my class.

Three more words -- couldnt say anthing else
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1 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2008
Collection of essays on postmodernism and various examples thereof. Consumed this particular text during my 2000-2001 stint at SMCM, working my way through my SMP, trying to create reasonably plausible art students in my novel.
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