Contemporary Art: World Currents / Edition 1

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Contemporary Art: World Currents is the first comprehensive worldwide survey of contemporary art from the 1980s to the present day.

Author Terry Smith argues that, in recent decades, a global shift from modern to contemporary art has occurred: artists everywhere have embraced the contemporary world’s teeming multiplicity, its proliferating differences and its challenging complexities and new technologies. Alongside more than 350 carefully selected color images of key works, Terry Smith offers the first account of these changes, from their historical beginnings to the present day. Exploring key works by both well known
and little-known artists, the author shows how contemporary art achieved definitive force in the markets and museums of the major art centres during the 1980s and then became a global phenomenon as artworlds everywhere began to connect more closely: new communicative technologies and expanding social media are now shaping the future of art.

Contemporary Art: World Currents breaks new ground in tracing how modern, traditional and indigenous art became contemporary in each cultural region of the world, ranging across Western, East and Central Europe, North and South America and the Caribbean, Oceania, Africa, and the Middle East. Terry Smith lays the groundwork for a new comparative approach to contemporary art, emphasizing its relationships to all aspects of contemporary life. He argues that it is cultural diversity and individual artistic inventiveness, not a convergence towards sameness, which makes today’s art contemporary.

Contemporary Art: World Currents brings the subject right up-todate, highlighting the concerns of contemporary artists while giving the reader an invaluable insight to art today.

Teaching and Learning Experience

Improve Critical Thinking- Explore how contemporary art has become a global, connected phenomenon

Engage Students- Looks at the work of contemporary artists from across the world.

Support Instructors- Image PowerPoints slides are available for Contemporary Art: World Currents.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Terry Smith is acknowledged world wide as the leading authority in the theory of contemporary art.”-- Hans Belting, Professor for Art History and Media Theory, Academy for Design, Karlsruhe, Germany, from the Global Art and the Museum website.

“Terry Smith is that rare art and social historian able to write criticism at once alert to the forces that contextualize art and sensitive to the elements and qualities that inhere to the works of art themselves.” -- College Art Association, citation for the 2010 Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism

Contemporary Art: World Currents, by Terry Smith (Pearson; 348 pages). Contemporary art exists in such quantity and variety that even insiders to it will benefit by art historian Smith's clear-eyed world tour. Perhaps the best concise book of its kind available. -- Kenneth Baker, Chronicle Art Critic Holiday gift guide: books on art November 20, 2011

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205789719
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 7/15/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 441,193
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Smith, FAHA, CIHA, is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. His major research interests are world contemporary art, including its institutional and social contexts; the histories of multiple modernities and modernisms; the history and theory of contemporaneity; and the historiography of art history and art criticism. He has special expertise in international contemporary art (practice, theory, institutions, markets), American visual cultures since 1870, and Australia art since settlement, including Aboriginal art. Current graduate students under his supervision are working on topics such as critical global practices, alternative avant-gardes, cultural policy, and art writing. He teaches the open course Introduction to Contemporary Art, and a graduate seminar on modernity and contemporaneity.

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Table of Contents



Part I: Becoming Contemporary in Euro America

Chapter 1: Late Modern Art Becomes Contemporary
Chapter 2: The Contemporary Art Boom

Part II: The Transnational Transition

Chapter 3: Russia and (East of) Europe
Chapter 4: South and Central America, the Carribean
Chapter 5: China and East Asia
Chapter 6: India, South and Southeast Asia
Chapter 7: Oceania
Chapter 8: Africa
Chapter 9: West Asia

Part III: Contemporary Concerns
Chapter 10: World Pictures: Making Art Politically
Chapter 11: Climate Change: Art and Ecology
Chapter 12: Social Media: Affects of Time
Chapter 13: Coda: Permanent Transition


General Introduction: Contemporary Art in Transition
From Late Modern Art to Now

Part I: Becoming Contemporary in Euro America

Chapter 1: Late Modern Art Becomes Contemporary
Transformations in Late Modern Art: Its Contemporary Aspects

Chapter 2: The Contemporary Art Boom
The Postmodern Return to Figuration
Retro-Sensationalist Art
Remodernism in Sculpture and Photography
Spectacle Architecture as Contemporary Art
Contemporary Art Becomes a Style

Part II: The Transnational Transition

Chapter 3: Russia and (East of) Europe
Late Cold War Modern Art Elsewhere (East of) Europe
After the Fall: Post-Communist Art?
Beyond “Eastern” and “Central” versus “Western” Europe
Translating the European Ideal

Chapter 4: South and Central America, the Carribean
South America
Elsewhere in the Caribbean
Seeing the World’s Currents

Chapter 5: China and East Asia


Chapter 6: India, South and Southeast Asia
The Phillippines

Chapter 7: Oceania
Papua New Guinea
Aotearoa/New Zealand

Chapter 8: Africa
Modern Art in Africa
South Africa Under Apartheid
Popular Painting and Sculpture in Central Africa
Commercial to Art Photography
South Africa after Apartheid
African Art Enters the International Circuit

Chapter 9: West Asia
From Hurufiyah to Contemporary Cosmopolitanism

Part III: Contemporary Concerns

Chapter 10: World Pictures: Making Art Politically
One World
Global Networks
Intervening Critically
Profiles in Shadowland
Bare Labor

Chapter 11: Climate Change: Art and Ecology
Art and Environmentalism
Crisis and Catastrophe
Collective Actions, Sustainable Solutions
Designs for Living
Experimental Geography
Imaging the Future Dystopia
Eco-Chic, Greenwashing, Spectable

Chapter 12: Social Media: Affects of Time
Mediation, Immersion, Intervention, Agency
To Be with Time is All We Ask

Chapter 13: Coda: Permanent Transition

Select Bibliography
A Directory of Selected Contemporary
Art Websites
Picture Credits
Note of Thanks

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