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Themes of Contemporary Art Visual Art After 1980

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  • Edition: 5th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2021-06-01
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Supplemental Materials

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Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art after 1980, Fifth Edition, offers students and readers an introduction to recent art. The primary focus is an examination of themes that are widespread in contemporary artistic practice. Individual chapters analyze thematic content in eight groupings: Identity, The Body, Time, Memory, Place, Language, Science, and Spirituality. These eight thematic categories provide a significant sample from which readers can grasp influential concepts that stretch across much of the art of our time. Profiles of key artists and works enhance student understanding of these major themes and the individual approaches and key movements in the world of contemporary art.

Author Biography

Jean Robertson is Chancellor's Professor Emerita of Art History at Indiana University, Herron School of Art and Design, IUPUI. Other books co-authored with Craig McDaniel include Spellbound: Rethinking the Alphabet (Intellect and University of Chicago Press, 2016); and Painting as a Language: Material, Technique, Form, Content (Harcourt, 2000). She is lead co-author with Deborah Hutton of The History of Art: A Global View (Thames & Hudson, 2022).

Craig McDaniel is Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at Indiana University, Herron School of Art and Design, IUPUI. In addition to volumes co-authored with Jean Robertson, McDaniel has published essays on art and culture, most notably a series of articles that reevaluates the practice of painting and the achievements of key painters. In addition to participating in exhibitions of his own art, McDaniel has curated over 50 exhibitions of contemporary art by others.

Scott Contreras-Koterbay (guest author) is Professor in the Department of Art & Design, adjunct professor in the Department of Philosophy & Humanities, and Director of the Bert C. Bach Fine & Performing Scholars in the Honors College at East Tennessee State University. He is co-author with Lukasz Mirocha of The New Aesthetic and Art: Constellations of the Postdigital (Instituut voor Netweerkcultuur, 2016).

Table of Contents



Themes of Contemporary Art: What, Why, and How
A Brief Orientation

The World Changes, The Art World Expands
Overview of History and Art History: 1980-2020
Traditions Survive, New Trends Arrive
Theory Flexes Its Muscles
Impact of the Digital*
Social Experience as Art
Art Meets Contemporary Culture
Artists Respond to the Anthropocene
PROFILE: Hito Steyerl*

A Focus on Identity in Art History
Identity Is Collective and Relational
Identity Politics
Otherness and Representation
Essentialism Versus Diversity
Authenticity and Hybridity
Identity Is Constructed
Deconstructing Difference
The Fluidity of Identity
Synthetic Identities
Fictional Identities
Are We Post-Identity?
PROFILE: Shirin Neshat
PROFILE: Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch

Past Figurative Art
Performing Bodies
The Body Beautiful
Grotesque Bodies
The Body Is a Battleground
Sexual Bodies
Gazing at Bodies
Mortal Bodies
Classifying Humans in the Genomic Age
Posthuman Bodies
PROFILE: Ren?e Cox
PROFILE: Zhang Huan

Changing Views of Time
Time and Art History
Time as a Medium
Live Art
Film and Video
Process Art
Exploring the Structure of Time
Counting and Measuring Time
Reordering Time
PROFILE: Hiroshi Sugimoto
PROFILE: Ragnar Kjartansson

Memory and Art History
The Texture of Memory
Memory Is Emotional
Memory Is Unreliable
Memory Is Multisensory
Strategies for Representing the Past
Displaying Evidence
Reenacting the Past
Fracturing Narratives and Reshuffling Memories
Storehouses of Memory
Revisiting the Past
Recovering History
Rethinking History
Reframing the Present
Commemorating the Past
PROFILE: Christian Boltanski
PROFILE: Brian Tolle

Places Have Meanings
Places Have Value
Looking Out for Places
Art History's Influence
Representations of Space
(Most) Works of Art Exist in a Place
What's Public? What's Private?
Fictionalized Places
PROFILE: Turbine Hall at Tate Modern
PROFILE: Andrea Zittel

Art and Words: A Quick History
Recent Theories of Language
Reasons for Using Language
Language Makes Meaning
Language Takes Form
Transparency and Translucency
Spatiality and Physicality
Books Made by Artists
Wielding the Power of Language
Confronting the Challenge of Translation
Communication in the Digital Age*
Text and Power
Text as Digital Material
PROFILE: Nina Katchadourian
PROFILE: Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

What Is Science?
Artists as Amateur Scientists
Artists Adopt Scientific Tools and Materials
Creole Technologies
Bio Art
The Visual Culture of Science
Scientific Imaging and Art
Deconstructing the Visual Culture of Science
Scientific Displays and Archives
Science in Popular Culture
The Ideology of Science
Changing Paradigms of Science
Is Science Running Amok? Activist Art Responds
Is Nature Natural?
The Anthropocene: Climate Change and More
PROFILE: Patricia Piccinini
PROFILE: Eduardo Kac

CHAPTER NINE: Spirituality
Spirituality and Religion
A Short History
Religious Iconography
Spiritual Forms and Materials
Mingling the Sacred and the Profane
Sacred Spaces and Rituals
Finding Faith and Harboring Doubt
Facing Death, Doom, and Destruction
Art and Transcendence
PROFILE: Bill Viola
PROFILE: Jos? Bedia

Selected Bibliography

*Sections authored by Scott Contreras-Koterbay

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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