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Contemporary Art (Art Essentials)

Natalie Rudd


A plain speaking, jargon-free account of contemporary art that identifies key themes and approaches, providing the reader with a clear understanding of the contexts in which art is being made today

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Since the 1960s contemporary art has overturned the accepted historical categorizations of what constitutes art, who creates it, and how it is represented and validated. This guide brings the subject right up-to-date, exploring the notion of ‘contemporary’ and what it means in the present as well as how it came about.

Curator and writer Natalie Rudd explains the many aspects of contemporary art, from its backstory to today, including different approaches, media and recurring themes. Each chapter addresses a core question, explored via an accessible narrative and supported by an analysis of six relevant works.

Rudd also looks at the role of the art market and its structures, including art fairs and biennales and how these have developed since the millennium; the expanded role of the contemporary artist as personality; how artists are untangling historical and contemporary narratives to expose inequalities; the ethics of making; and the potential for art to improve the world and effect political change. A ‘toolkit’ section offers advice on how to interpret contemporary art and where to access it.

Offering a more multi-narrative and international perspective, this guide discusses what motivates artists as they try to make sense of the world, and their place within it.

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'An inspiring guide to navigating some of the big questions that have animated the art world … also, a perfect tool for learning how to have fun with contemporary art'
Cecilia Alemani, Curator, 59th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia and Director, High Line Art

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback with flaps

Size: 21.6 x 13.8 cm

Extent: 176 pp

Illustrations: 107

Publication date: 13 April 2023

ISBN: 9780500296707

Contents List

1. Introduction: How Did We Get Here?
2. What Are the Rules of the Game?
3. Why Make Something Out of Nothing?
4. How Do Artists Operate?
5. Why Do Artists Tell Tales?
6. Is Making Still Important?
7. Can Art Build a Better World?
8. Toolkit

About the Author

Natalie Rudd is Senior Curator of the UK’s Arts Council Collection. She has published monographs on the artists Peter Blake, Tess Jaray and Paul de Monchaux, among others and is the author of The Self-Portrait in the Art Essentials series (2021).

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