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The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture CA res. please inc. 7.25% tax Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1565847422
ISBN-10: 1565847423
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Essential."
—Glyn Banks, Studio International

"[M]ay have initiated the rising wave of books that both criticize modernist art and take new critical approaches to art in general."
Vantage Point

"[P]robably the most useful, serious and rewarding anthology of its kind."
Art in America

About the Author

Hal Foster is the Townsend Martin '17 Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 183 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; CA res. please inc. 7.25% tax edition (April 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565847423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565847422
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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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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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