Defining Contemporary Art: 25 Years in 200 Pivotal Artworks
In the mid-1980s the sprouting of new movements that had driven modern art since the nineteenth century finally went dormant, sputtering out with a last few half-hearted labels ('pattern painting', 'neo-geo', 'commodity art'). But this was not the end of art history - far from it. In the years since, art's creative development has remained more vibrant than ever, resulting in a staggering diversity of new forms. Defining Contemporary Art responds to this unique landscape with an innovative approach to art history. Assembled and written by eight of the most prominent curators working today, all of whom have both witnessed and shaped this period, Defining Contemporary Art tells the story of the two hundred pivotal artworks of the past twenty-five years. These artworks include not only the most talked about pieces but also the quietly influential works, those which may have been overlooked at the time of their making but which went on to change the paradigm of their era. Arranged year by year, these two hundred works provide a true chronological depiction of creativity in our era, forming a mosaic in which readers may find their own patterns. Each author, in addition to selecting twenty-five artworks from 1986 to 2010, has singled out one year from this period as a key moment in its development, tracing the shifts in the artistic climate and the important exhibitions of new art, influential retrospectives, milestones and anecdotes that serve as the seeds of more conventional histories. Defining Contemporary Art is not a conventional history. In a period when artistic developments no longer proceed via tidy movements, when narratives of progress no longer hold sway, when the art world has not one centre but many, this book provides the reader with all the materials to compose a picture of the most vital period in art: our own.