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Art in California (World of Art)

Jenni Sorkin


A history of modern and contemporary art in California from the early 20th century to the present day


A concise yet wide-reaching survey, this book presents visual art in California from the early twentieth century to the present day as a microcosm of the global contemporary, shaped by a compelling network of geopolitical influences, indigenous histories and complex migrations. Art historian Jenni Sorkin celebrates California as a centre of artistic activity whose influence extends far beyond its physical boundaries. Introducing an array of artists and practices, from photography to feminist art, the studio craft movement, Chicanx muralism and Black social activism, Sorkin focuses on art in California as radical, steeped in multiculturalism, ethnic identity, and community involvement.

Organized both thematically and chronologically, and illustrated in full-colour throughout, Art in California includes chapters on photography and painting examined through the lens of gender and racial identity; the influence of Mexican muralism; post-war abstraction and the expansion of art education; 1960s cultural and political activism and the rise of ethnic studies; art schools and the alternative space movement, and California-centred biennial exhibitions. As the first introductory text on the subject, this engaging study offers an important reassessment of California’s contribution to modern and contemporary art in the United States and beyond.

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 21.0 x 15.0 cm

Extent: 272 pp

Illustrations: 168

Publication date: 16 September 2021

ISBN: 9780500204610

Contents List

1. Picturing Identity in Landscape
2. Los Tres Grandes in California: Establishing a Mural Tradition
3. Abstraction as a Framework, 1945–1965
4. Art as Power: Social Movements and Aesthetic Politics, 1968–1978
5. The “isms” Go to School: Conceptualism, Feminism, Post-Modernism
6. Spaces and Places: the Alternative Space Movement and the Marketplace
7. Disaster Fueling Culture: the 1990s and 2000s
8. Biennialism

About the Author

Jenni Sorkin is Associate Professor of History of Art & Architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She writes on the intersections between gender, material culture and contemporary art, working primarily on women artists and under-represented media. Her publications include Live Form: Women, Ceramics and Community, Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women Artists, 1947–2016 and numerous essays in journals and exhibition catalogues. She was educated at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Bard College, and received her PhD from Yale University. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Modern Craft.