A Companion to Contemporary Art since 1945
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A Companion to Contemporary Art is a major survey covering the major works and movements, the most important theoretical developments, and the historical, social, political, and aesthetic issues in contemporary art since 1945, primarily in the Euro-American context.

  • Collects 27 original essays by expert scholars describing the current state of scholarship in art history and visual studies, and pointing to future directions in the field.
  • Contains dual chronological and thematic coverage of the major themes in the art of our time: politics, culture wars, public space, diaspora, the artist, identity politics, the body, and visual culture.
  • Offers synthetic analysis, as well as new approaches to, debates central to the visual arts since 1945 such as those addressing formalism, the avant-garde, the role of the artist, technology and art, and the society of the spectacle.


Amelia Jones is Pilkington Professor in the History of Art at the University of Manchester. She has curated many exhibitions and is the author of Postmodernism and the En-Gendering of Marcel Duchamp (1994), Body Art/Performing the Subject (1998), and Irrational Modernism: A Neurasthenic History of New York Dada (2004).


List of Figures ix

Notes on Contributors xiv

Series Editor’s Preface xviii

Acknowledgments xix

Part I: Introduction 1

1 Writing Contemporary Art into History, a Paradox? 3
Amelia Jones

Part II: Decades 17

2 “America” and its Discontents: Art and Politics 1945–60 19
Gavin Butt

3 The 1960s: A Decade Out-of-Bounds 38
Anna Dezeuze

4 “I’m sort of sliding around in place . . . ummm . . .”: Art in the 1970s 60
Sam Gathercole

5 Pictures and Positions in the 1980s 83
Howard Singerman

6 1990–2005: In the Clutches of Time 107
Henry M. Sayre

Part III: Aesthetics 125

7 Form and Formless 127
Caroline A. Jones

Art as Idea
8 Re-Thinking the “Duchamp Effect” 145
David Hopkins

9 Regarding Beauty 164
Margaret Morgan

Part IV: Politics 189

10 Avant-Garde: A Historiography of a Critical Concept 191
Johanne Lamoureux

11 Facture for Change: US Activist Art since 1950 212
Jennifer González and Adrienne Posner

Culture Wars
12 “The Senators Were Revolted”: Homophobia and the Culture Wars 231
Jonathan D. Katz

Art and Its Public(s)
13 Crowds and Connoisseurs: Art and the Public Sphere in America 249
Grant Kester

Part V: Identity/Subjectivity 269

The Artist
14 The Writerly Artist: Beautiful, Boring, and Blue 271
Carol Mavor

15 Diaspora: Multiple Practices, Multiple Worldviews 296
Steven Nelson

16 Power and Pleasure: Feminist Art Practice and Theory in the United States and Britain 317
Laura Meyer

17 Queer Wallpaper 343
Jennifer Doyle

18 Implications of Blackness in Contemporary Art 356
Pauline de Souza

19 The Paradoxical Bodies of Contemporary Art 378
Christine Ross

Part VI: Methods/Theories 401

20 A Shadow of Marx 403
Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska

21 Poststructuralism and Contemporary Art, Past, Present, Future . . . 424
Sarah Wilson

Postcolonial Theory
22 “Fragments of Collapsing Space”: Postcolonial Theory and Contemporary Art 450
Mark Crinson

Visual Culture
23 Visual Culture Studies: Questions of History, Theory, and Practice 470
Marquard Smith

Part VII: Technology 491

Mass Culture, High/Low
24 “That’s All Folks”: Contemporary Art and Popular Culture 493
Nick Mirzoeff

25 Image + Text: Reconsidering Photography in Contemporary Art 512
Liz Kotz

26 Imagine There’s No Image (It’s Easy If You Try): Appropriation in the Age of Digital Reproduction 534
Dore Bowen

Digital Media
27 “Life-like”: Historicizing Process and Responsiveness in Digital Art 557
María Fernández

Index 582


"This Companion represents a move away from the more traditionally conceived broad surveys of contemporary art available to date, and is refreshing in its innovative approach to this complex subject ... essential reading for students and scholars of contemporary art history, visual culture, and visual theory, and general readers just wishing to develop their understanding of this complex subject." Reference Reviews

“Provocative, wide-ranging, and impressively inclusive…a welcome and important addition for the understanding of the art of our historical present and a boon companion for the general reader, the artist, the student, the art historian and the critic alike.” Abigail Solomon-Godeau, University of California, Santa Barbara

“By keeping its finger on the pulse of the present, while commenting on the recent past, this book reminds us why contemporary art, and contemporary art history, matters." Geoffrey Batchen, City University of New York