- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Phaidon Press; 1st Edition edition (November 7, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780714862095
- ISBN-13: 978-0714862095
- ASIN: 0714862096
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 2.2 x 11.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #312,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Defining Contemporary Art: 25 Years in 200 Pivotal Artworks Hardcover – November 7, 2011
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". . .the reader is tempted with an array of dazzling images and supporting essays to tease out their own grand narratives. Whether you are an art historian, collector or a casual art peruser, this survey of the past 25 years from a curatorial perspective is certainly a feast for the eyes." - The Huffington Post
". . .not only addresses the obstacle of pinning down the nebulous term "contemporary art," but also manages to pull off a legible presentation of it in a single book. . .Ultimately, Defining Contemporary Art functions as both a demonstration of contemporary curation and a poly-contextualized historical view." - Art Log
About the Author
Daniel Birnbaum is Director of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Formerly Curator of Portikus and Rektor at the Staedelschule in Frankfurt, he has also organized numerous international exhibitions, including the 52nd Venice Biennale (2009) and the 1st Moscow Biennial (2004).
Cornelia Butler is Curator of Drawings at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. From 1996 to 2005 she was Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, where her exhibitions included 'Robert Smithson' (2004), and the major touring exhibition 'Wack!: Art and the Feminist Revolution (2007).
Suzanne Cotter is Curator of Exhibitions at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. From 2002 to 2010 she was Senior Curator of Modern Art Oxford, where her exhibitions included 'Out of Beirut' (2006) and 'Pawel Althamer: Common Task' (2009). In 2011 she co-curated the 10th Sharjah Biennial.
Bice Curiger has been Curator at the Kunsthaus Zurich since 1993, and is Artistic Director of the 53rd Venice Biennale (2011). She is also Editor-in-Chief of Parkett, which she co-founded in 1984, and Publishing Director of Tate etc. magazine.
Okwui Enwezor is Director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich and Adjuct Curator at the International Center of Photography in New York. His exhibitions as an independent curator include 'The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945?1994' (2001-02), and he served as the Artistic Director of the 7th Gwangju Biennial (2008), Documenta 11 (2002) and the 2nd Johannesburg Biennial (1999).
Massimiliano Gioni is Associate Director and Director of Exhibitions at the New Museum, New York, and Artistic Director at Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan. In 2010 he curated the 8th Gwangju Biennial. As a member of the Wrong Gallery he co-curated the 4th Berlin Biennial (2006) and numerous artist projects in New York.
Bob Nickas is an independent curator based in New York. He has organized more than eighty exhibitions since 1984 and served on the teams responsible for Aperto at the Venice Biennale in 1993 and the 2003 Biennale de Lyon. From 2003-06 he was Curatorial Advisor at PS1 Contemporary Art Center in New York.
Hans Ulrich Obrist is Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery, London. He has been co-curator of such international biennials as Manifesta 1 (Rotterdam, 1996), the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and the 2nd Guangzhou Biennial (2005).
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Is it "definitive"? Well, yes and no. Most of the big names are included, but naturally a few are exempted. There isn't much painting involved, but during this quarter century a debate was going on as to whether painting had outlived its usefulness.
"Defining Contemporary Art" is a doorstop size book, printed on the best quality, thick stock. That said, due to the nature of contemporary art, the photos and reproductions won't do for the reader what pictures of traditional paintings used to do. To truly understand these contemporary works, I fear, you really "have to be there."
The nature of contemporary art is that artists are asked to develop a personal "language", and through what are usually "tableaus" installed in galleries, create a pervasive atmosphere, a total environment. Art as it is today is more and more multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary, and more and more related to film. Artists in some sense can now be considered "directors" who translate their thoughts into huge spaces, rather than the limited dimensions of canvasses.
The curators are as important as the artists. They are all versed in Roland Barthes, Wittgenstein, Foucault, Bakhtin, Baudillard and Derrida,... and, you know, Tom Wolfe (in "The Painted Word") was right. The descriptions of the curators might as well hang on the wall besides the artworks. They will be just as revelatory about meaning as the artworks themselves, because contemporary art has become in some ways as impenetrable, difficult and obtuse as quantum physics might be for the layman.
But, this book is truly an honest reflection. Here are the players, the elite artists and the elite curators, bound together.... and short of going to the prominent biennales and the world class museums, if you want some knowledge of current art standards, this book is as good as anyplace to start.