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Book People's art theory books are available at unbelievable prices and will help you understand the theories and concepts that your favourite artists worked with.

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Art Theory Books

  • Create Dangerously

    Albert Camus

    Product Code: BMHGL
    Paperback
    'To create today is to create dangerously. Any publication is an act, and that act exposes one to the passions of an age that forgives nothing'Camus's powerful lecture, as relevant today as ever, argues against 'art for art's sake', while his Nobel Prize speech brilliantly sets out his vision of the artist's role and responsibilities.Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York's underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space.
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  • Beauty and Art

    Elizabeth Prettejohn

    Product Code: AHKRU
    Paperback
    What do we mean when we call a work of art 'beautiful'? How have artists responded to changing notions of the beautiful? Which works of art have been called beautiful, and why? Fundamental and intriguing questions to artists and art lovers, but ones that are all too often ignored in discussions of art today. Prettejohn argues that we simply cannot afford to ignore these questions. Charting over two hundred years of western art, she illuminates the vital relationship between our changing notions of beauty and specific works of art, from the works of Kauffman to Whistler, Ingres to Rossetti, Cezanne to Jackson Pollock, and concludes with a challenging question for the future: why should we care about beauty in the twenty-first century?
    • £18.09
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  • Portraying Pregnancy: Holbein to Social Media

    Karen Hearn

    Product Code: CDGUB
    Paperback
    Comprising material from the 15th century through to the present day, Portraying Pregnancy accompanies an exhibition at the Foundling Museum, which is the first ever to focus on portraits of pregnant women in British art. The book will be extensively illustrated with painted portraits, drawings, miniatures, prints, photographs, sculpture, textiles and objects. Although up to the early 20th century many women spent most of their adult years being pregnant, their pregnancies are seldom made apparent in surviving portraits. Portraying Pregnancy considers the different ways in which (from the late Middle Ages onwards) a sitter's pregnancy was, or was not, visibly represented to the viewer. Over a span of more than 500 years, Portraying Pregnancy interrogates how the social mores and preoccupations of different periods have impacted the ways in which pregnant women have been depicted - sometimes reinforcing an 'ideal' female role (especially within a religious context), while at other times celebrating fertility, or asserting shock value. Prior to the 20th century, the possibility of death in childbirth was a constant reality that brought an additional tension to such a representation. Portraying Pregnancy also explores the extent to which female sitters have had agency over their depiction. Written by Karen Hearn, the leading expert on this topic, Portraying Pregnancy will address representations of pregnancy in a religious context; early popular and medical understanding of pregnancy; dress and fashion; pregnancy portraits in 16th- and early 17th-century England; mid 17th-century female portraits; 18th-century British grand portraiture; the rarity of 19th-century images of pregnant women; the shift in early 20th-century male artists' depictions of their wives and partners, as they began to celebrate pregnancy visually; how British women artists now addressed their own pregnancies in their work; and other later 20th-century nude portrayals.
    • £14.00
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  • The Birth of the Idea of Photography

    Francois Brunet (Universite Pa

    Product Code: CCHSX
    Hardback
    A milestone work that examines the democratic idea of photography and its expansion in common culture, particularly in the United States; generously illustrated. This influential text by French historian and theorist Francois Brunet considers the invention and history of photography as the birth of an idea, rather than a new type of image. This "idea photography" combines a logical theme-that of an art without artistry-and the democratic political promise of an art for all. Officially endorsed by the 1839 French law on the daguerreotype, this idea reverberated throughout the nineteenth century in Europe and America. Brunet shows how emerging image technologies and practices in France and Britain were linked to this logical/political construction of photography, from the earliest researches of Nicephore Niepce, Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre, and Henry Fox Talbot up to the turn of the twentieth century. The parallel development of the Kodak camera and Alfred Stieglitz's "straight" vision in the United States then fulfilled, while also depreciating, the utopian promise of photography for all. This history reached a provisional climax with the reflections on images by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Hippolyte Adolphe Taine, Sigmund Freud, Henri-Louis Bergson, and Charles Sanders Peirce, reflections that both demonstrated the novelty of photography and forecast many later debates on its technology and aesthetics. The Birth of the Idea of Photography has been enriched with more than fifty photographs, reproduced in color, from North American and European collections. This edition also features a new preface by the author.
  • Yellow

    Michel Pastoureau

    Product Code: CBPPG
    Hardback
    From the acclaimed author of Blue, a beautifully illustrated history of yellow from antiquity to the present In this richly illustrated book, Michel Pastoureau-a renowned authority on the history of color and the author of celebrated volumes on blue, black, green, and red-now traces the visual, social, and cultural history of yellow. Focusing on European societies, with comparisons from East Asia, India, Africa, and South America, Yellow tells the intriguing story of the color's evolving place in art, religion, fashion, literature, and science. In Europe today, yellow is a discreet color, little present in everyday life and rarely carrying great symbolism. This has not always been the case. In antiquity, yellow was almost sacred, a symbol of light, warmth, and prosperity. It became highly ambivalent in medieval Europe: greenish yellow came to signify demonic sulfur and bile, the color of forgers, lawless knights, Judas, and Lucifer-while warm yellow recalled honey and gold, serving as a sign of pleasure and abundance. In Asia, yellow has generally had a positive meaning. In ancient China, yellow clothing was reserved for the emperor, while in India the color is associated with happiness. Above all, yellow is the color of Buddhism, whose temple doors are marked with it. Throughout, Pastoureau illuminates the history of yellow with a wealth of captivating images. With its striking design and compelling text, Yellow is a feast for the eye and mind.
  • Being Material

    Marie-Pier Boucher

    Product Code: CBGSI
    Hardback
    Explorations of the many ways of being material in the digital age. In his oracular 1995 book Being Digital, Nicholas Negroponte predicted that social relations, media, and commerce would move from the realm of "atoms to bits"-that human affairs would be increasingly untethered from the material world. And yet in 2019, an age dominated by the digital, we have not quite left the material world behind. In Being Material, artists and technologists explore the relationship of the digital to the material, demonstrating that processes that seem wholly immaterial function within material constraints. Digital technologies themselves, they remind us, are material things-constituted by atoms of gold, silver, silicon, copper, tin, tungsten, and more. The contributors explore five modes of being material: programmable, wearable, livable, invisible, and audible. Their contributions take the form of reports, manifestos, philosophical essays, and artist portfolios, among other configurations. The book's cover merges the possibilities of paper with those of the digital, featuring a bookmark-like card that, when "seen" by a smartphone, generates graphic arrangements that unlock films, music, and other dynamic content on the book's website. At once artist's book, digitally activated object, and collection of scholarship, this book both demonstrates and chronicles the many ways of being material. Contributors Christina Agapakis, Azra Aksamija, Sandy Alexandre, Dewa Alit, George Barbastathis, Maya Beiser, Marie-Pier Boucher, Benjamin H. Bratton, Hussein Chalayan, Jim Cybulski, Tal Danino, Deborah G. Douglas, Arnold Dreyblatt, M. Amah Edoh, Michelle Tolini Finamore, Team Foldscope and Global Foldscope community, Ben Fry, Stefan Helmreich, Hyphen-Labs, Leila Kinney, Rebecca Konte, Winona LaDuke, Brendan Landis, Grace Leslie, Bill Maurer, Lucy McRae, Tom OEzden-Schilling, Trevor Paglen, Lisa Parks, Nadya Peek, Claire Pentecost, Manu Prakash,Casey Reas, Pawel Romanczuk, Natasha D. Schull, Nick Shapiro, Skylar Tibbits, Rebecca Uchill, Evan Ziporyn Book Design: E Roon Kang Electronics, interactions, and product designer: Marcelo Coelho
  • Translation

    Sophie Williamson

    Product Code: BZINU
    Paperback
    Part of the acclaimed series of anthologies which document major themes and ideas in contemporary art. An essential collection of texts reflecting on the cultural and political complexities of translation in global contemporary artistic practices. The movement of global populations, and subsequently the task of translation, underlies contemporary culture: the intricacies of ancient and modern Jewish diaspora, waves of colonisation and the transportation of slaves are now superimposed by economic and environmental migration, forced political exiles and refugees. This timely anthology will consider translation's ongoing role in cultural navigation and understanding, exploring the approaches of artists, poets and theorists in negotiating increasingly protean identities: from the intrinsic intimacy of language, to translation's embedded structures of knowledge production and interaction, to its limitations of expression and, ultimately, its importance in a world of multiple perspectives. Artists surveyed include Meric Algun Ringborg, Geta Bratescu, Tanya Bruguera, Chto Delat, Chohreh Feyzdjou, Susan Hiller, Glenn Ligon, Teresa Margolles, Shirin Neshat, Helio Oiticica, Pratchaya Phinthong, Kurt Schwitters, Yinka Shonibare, Mladen Stilinovic, Erika Tan, Kara Walker, Wu Tsang. Writers include Hannah Arendt, James Baldwin, Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Luis Camnitzer, Jean Fisher, Stuart Hall, bell hooks, Sarat Maharaj, Martha Rosler, Bertrand Russell, Simon Sheikh, Gayatri Spivak, Hito Steyerl, Lawrence Venuti.
    • £13.56
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  • The Dehumanization of Art and Other Essays on Art, Culture, and Literature

    Jose Ortega y Gasset

    Product Code: CAYMX
    Paperback
    A classic work on radical aesthetics by one of the great philosophers of the early twentieth century No work of philosopher and essayist Jose Ortega y Gasset has been more frequently cited, admired, or criticized than his response to modernism, "The Dehumanization of Art." The essay, originally published in Spanish in 1925, grappled with the newness of nonrepresentational art and sought to make it more understandable to the public. Many embraced the essay as a manifesto extolling the virtues of vanguard artists and promoting efforts to abandon the realism and the romanticism of the nineteenth century. Others took it as a denunciation of everything that was radical about the avant-garde. This Princeton Classics edition makes this essential work, along with four of Ortega's other critical essays, available in English. A new foreword by Anthony J. Cascardi considers how Ortega's philosophy remains relevant and significant in the twenty-first century.
  • Art London

    Hettie Judah

    Product Code: BZQZH
    Paperback
    Prodigies, revolutionaries, defiers of the patriarchy; drunks, rebels and impassioned immigrants; queer pioneers, paint-spattered punks and proto-feminists: there have always been artists in London. Some were celebrated in their lifetime, others were out-of-step with the spirit of their age: too radical, too subversive, too modest, too female, too foreign. Art London is more than a guidebook. It will accompany you on a journey through this great city, telling stories, uncovering histories, sharing insights into those who have made, collected and influenced art past and present. Moving neighbourhood by neighbourhood, Art London travels the streets with you, revealing art in museums, galleries and beyond, from palace to pub to studio. Anish Kapoor, Grayson Perry, Mona Hatoum, John Akomfra, Rasheed Araeen, Sunil Gupta, Tracey Emin and Yinka Shonibare were among the artists who agreed to have their portraits taken for this book, while at work in their studios. Alex Schneiderman's exclusive photographs reveal the human element behind contemporary art, while pictures of streetside galleries place London's art scene within an ever-expanding cosmopolitan world. Fascinating, entertaining, full of anecdote and insights, Art London reflects the city itself: energetic, diverse, resilient, occasionally outrageous, and never short of fresh ideas. Also in the series: Vinyl London ISBN 9781788840156 Rock 'n' Roll London ISBN 9781788840163 London Peculiars ISBN 9781851499182
    • £13.49
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  • The Story of Painting

    DK

    Product Code: BYWPD
    Hardback
    A fascinating new history of art, this gloriously illustrated book reveals how materials, techniques, and ideas have evolved over the centuries, inspiring artists to create their most celebrated works. Covering a comprehensive array of topics, from the first pigments and frescos to linear perspective in Renaissance paintings, the influence of photography, Impressionism, and the birth of modern art, The Story of Painting follows each step in the evolution of painting over the last 25,000 years, from the first cave paintings to the abstract works of the last 100 years. Packed with lavish colour reproductions of paintings and photographs of artists at work and the materials they used, it also focuses on key paintings from each period to analyse the techniques and secrets of the great masters in detail. Immerse yourself in the pages of this beautiful book and find yourself dazzled by new colours; marvel at the magic of perspective; wonder at glowing depictions of fabric and flesh; understand cubism; and embrace abstraction. It will transform your understanding and enjoyment of paintings forever.
    • £16.00
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  • Light for Visual Artists Second Edition

    Richard Yot

    Product Code: CCIIL
    Paperback
    This introduction to light for students and visual artists explores the way light can be used to create realistic and fantastical effects in a wide range of media. Divided into three parts, the clearly written text explains: the fundamental properties of natural and artificial light; how to create realistic images by observing people and the environment; the creative use of light in composition and design. Updated with revised photos and artwork, as well as 15 practical exercises and new online video material, this second edition is an indispensable resource for animators, digital illustrators, painters, photographers and artists working in any medium.
    • £20.00
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  • The Future of the Image

    Jacques Ranciere

    Product Code: BZLGY
    Paperback
    Lauded by major contemporary artists and philosophers, Jacques Ranci re's work returns politics to its central place in understanding art. In The Future of the Image, Jacques Ranci re develops a fascinating new concept of the image incontemporary art, showing how art and politics have always beenintrinsically intertwined. Covering a range of art movements, filmmakers such as Godard and Bresson, andthinkers such as Foucault, Deleuze, Adorno, Barthes, Lyotard andGreenberg, Ranci re shows that contemporary theorists of the image aresuffering from religious tendencies. He argues that there is a starkpolitical choice in art: it can either reinforce a radical democracy, or create a new reactionary mysticism. For Ranci re there is never apure art: the aesthetic revolution must always embrace egalitarianideals.
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  • The Complete Outsider

    Brian Sewell

    Product Code: BZBQM
    Paperback
    Published to enormous critical acclaim and commercial success between 2011 and 2012, these classic memoirs from the late, great and incendiary art critic Brian Sewell are now reissued in a single volume in response to their continuing popularity. With an additional afterword by Naim Attallah recalling Sewell's remarkable gift for friendship, the combined volume provides a remarkable self-portrait of a remarkable art critic who became a national treasure. It was no wonder mugs with `Brian Sewell is Fab' emblazoned around them were on sale in art gallery gift shops.
    • £22.00
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  • On Chapel Sands

    Laura Cumming

    Product Code: BYIGM
    Hardback
    Laura Cumming's On Chapel Sands is a book of mystery and memoir.

    Two narratives run through it: the mother's childhood tale; and Cumming's own pursuit of the truth. Humble objects light up the story: a pie dish, a carved box, an old Vick's jar. Letters, tickets, recipe books, even the particular slant of a copperplate hand give vital clues. And pictures of all kinds, from paintings to photographs, open up like doors to the truth.

    Above all, Cumming discovers how to look more closely at the family album - with its curious gaps and missing persons - finding crucial answers, captured in plain sight at the click of a shutter...
    • £13.59
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  • Signs & Symbols

    Miranda Bruce-Mitford

    Product Code: BXZMS
    Hardback
    Discover the fascinating origins and meanings of over 2,000 signs and symbols from mythology and religion to astrology and ancient tribes in this comprehensive guide. For centuries, symbols have been imperative throughout the world, signifying ideas, relationships, and objects across different cultures. Find out why a flag at half mast is a symbol of mourning, why toads have got a bad name while frogs turn into princes, and why a heart pierced by an arrow is a classic symbol of love. Delve into the meaning of each symbol and investigate how they have been interpreted in myth, religion, folklore, and art over time, with authoritative text from experts in the field and striking line drawings and photography that emphasize the visual strength and beauty of signs. Divided into six thematic sections - the cosmos, the natural world, human life, myths and religions, society and culture, and symbol systems - this guide to the secret language of signs and symbols is a must-have for those who want to understand the world around them.
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  • Blue Mythologies

    Carol Mavor

    Product Code: BXYMM
    Paperback
    The sea, the sky, the veins of your hands, the earth when photographed from space--blue sometimes seems to overwhelm all the other shades of our world in its all-encompassing presence. The blues of Blue Mythologies include those present in the world's religions, eggs, science, slavery, gender, sex, art, the literary past, and contemporary film. Carol Mavor's engaging and elegiac readings in this beautifully illustrated book take the reader from the blue of a newborn baby's eyes to Giotto's frescoes at Padua, and from the films of Derek Jarman and Krzysztof Ki slowski to the islands of Venice and Aran. In each example Mavor unpicks meaning both above and below the surface of culture. In an echo of Roland Barthes's essays in Mythologies, blue is unleashed as our most familiar and most paradoxical color. At once historical, sociological, literary, and visual, Blue Mythologies gives us a fresh and contemplative look into the traditions, tales, and connotations of those somethings blue.
    • £14.19
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  • Hot, Cold, Heavy, Light, 100 Art Writings 1988-2018

    Peter Schjeldahl

    Product Code: BXXVT
    Hardback
    Hot Cold Heavy Light collects 100 writings-some long, some short-that taken together forma group portrait of many of the world's most significant and interesting artists. From Pablo Picasso to Cindy Sherman, Old Masters to contemporary masters, paintings to comix, and saints to charlatans, Schjeldahl ranges widely through the diverse and confusing art world, an expert guide to a dazzling scene. No other writer enhances the reader's experience of art in precise, jargon-free prose as Schjeldahl does. His reviews are more essay than criticism, and he offers engaging and informative accounts of artists and their work. For more than three decades, he has written about art with Emersonian openness and clarity. A fresh perspective, an unexpected connection, a lucid gloss on a big idea awaits the reader on every page of this big, absorbing, buzzing book.
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  • Systems

    Edward A. Shanken

    Product Code: BVSDG
    Paperback
    Part of the acclaimed 'Documents of Contemporary Art' series of anthologies . To better understand the possible futures of art, you need to know the stuff in this book. - Sarah Cook, new media art historian, curator and co-author of Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media. In the 1960s many artists, composers, musicians and architects began to embrace open systems that emphasise organism over mechanism, dynamic processes of interaction among elements, and the participant's role as an inextricable part of aesthetic experience. This anthology traces this radical shift from its roots in systems and information theories, cybernetics and artificial intelligence to current cutting-edge science. It also explores the ways in which systems-based art projects can create self-generating entities and networks, alter our experience of time, change the configurations of social relations, cross cultural borders, and interact with threatened ecosystems. Artists surveyed include: Roy Ascott, Brian Eno, Frank Gillette, Hans Haacke, Newton Harrison & Helen Mayer Harrison, Ken Rinaldo, Tomas Saraceno, Sonia Landy Sheridan, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau, Woody & Steina Vasulka, Stephen Willats and Iannis Xenakis. Writers include: Jack Burnahm, Geoff Cox, Boris Groys, Francis Halsall, N. Katherine Hayles, Caroline A. Jones, Bruno Latour, Niklas Luhmann, Humberto Maturana, William J. Mitchell, Nick Prior and Francisco Varela.
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  • Ethics

    Walead Beshty

    Product Code: BVSDF
    Paperback
    Part of the acclaimed 'Documents of Contemporary Art' series of anthologies . ...this volume persuasively argues that there can be an aesthetics to ethics. - Stan Douglas, Artist The boundary of a contemporary art object or project is no longer thought of solely in physical terms but rather in relation to the specific social field it creates. Art is thus increasingly implicated in questions of ethics. This collection evaluates the relation of ethics to aesthetics, an encounter central to the contested space of much recent practice. It brings together theoretical foundations for an ethics of aesthetics; appraisals of art that engages with ethical issues; statements and examples of methodologies adopted by a diverse range of artists; and examination of artworks that question the ethical conditions in which contemporary art is produced and experienced. Artists surveyed include: Michael Asher, Tania Bruguera, Christoph Buchel, Merlin Carpenter, Paul Chan, Lygia Clark, Dexter Sinister, Fischli & Weiss, Andrea Fraser, Liam Gillick, David Hammons, Sharon Hayes, Thomas Hirschhorn, Khaled Hourani, Martin Kippenberger, Sharon Lockhart, Renzo Martens, Helio Oiticica, Seth Price, Walid Raad, Martha Rosler, Tino Sehgal, Santiago Sierra, Wolfgang Tillmans and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Writers include: Giorgio Agamben, Ariella Azoulay, Alain Badiou, Roland Barthes, Claire Bishop, Nicolas Bourriaud, Simon Critchley, Keller Easterling, Isabelle Graw, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Scorched Earth, Susan Sontag, Hito Steyerl, Triple Candie, Jan Verwoert and Eyal Weizman.
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  • Systems

    Edward A. Shanken

    Product Code: BVRMA
    Paperback
    Part of the acclaimed 'Documents of Contemporary Art' series of anthologies . To better understand the possible futures of art, you need to know the stuff in this book. - Sarah Cook, new media art historian, curator and co-author of Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media. In the 1960s many artists, composers, musicians and architects began to embrace open systems that emphasise organism over mechanism, dynamic processes of interaction among elements, and the participant's role as an inextricable part of aesthetic experience. This anthology traces this radical shift from its roots in systems and information theories, cybernetics and artificial intelligence to current cutting-edge science. It also explores the ways in which systems-based art projects can create self-generating entities and networks, alter our experience of time, change the configurations of social relations, cross cultural borders, and interact with threatened ecosystems. Artists surveyed include: Roy Ascott, Brian Eno, Frank Gillette, Hans Haacke, Newton Harrison & Helen Mayer Harrison, Ken Rinaldo, Tomas Saraceno, Sonia Landy Sheridan, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau, Woody & Steina Vasulka, Stephen Willats and Iannis Xenakis. Writers include: Jack Burnahm, Geoff Cox, Boris Groys, Francis Halsall, N. Katherine Hayles, Caroline A. Jones, Bruno Latour, Niklas Luhmann, Humberto Maturana, William J. Mitchell, Nick Prior and Francisco Varela.
    • £13.49
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  • Ethics

    Walead Beshty

    Product Code: BVRLZ
    Paperback
    Part of the acclaimed 'Documents of Contemporary Art' series of anthologies . ...this volume persuasively argues that there can be an aesthetics to ethics. - Stan Douglas, Artist The boundary of a contemporary art object or project is no longer thought of solely in physical terms but rather in relation to the specific social field it creates. Art is thus increasingly implicated in questions of ethics. This collection evaluates the relation of ethics to aesthetics, an encounter central to the contested space of much recent practice. It brings together theoretical foundations for an ethics of aesthetics; appraisals of art that engages with ethical issues; statements and examples of methodologies adopted by a diverse range of artists; and examination of artworks that question the ethical conditions in which contemporary art is produced and experienced. Artists surveyed include: Michael Asher, Tania Bruguera, Christoph Buchel, Merlin Carpenter, Paul Chan, Lygia Clark, Dexter Sinister, Fischli & Weiss, Andrea Fraser, Liam Gillick, David Hammons, Sharon Hayes, Thomas Hirschhorn, Khaled Hourani, Martin Kippenberger, Sharon Lockhart, Renzo Martens, Helio Oiticica, Seth Price, Walid Raad, Martha Rosler, Tino Sehgal, Santiago Sierra, Wolfgang Tillmans and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Writers include: Giorgio Agamben, Ariella Azoulay, Alain Badiou, Roland Barthes, Claire Bishop, Nicolas Bourriaud, Simon Critchley, Keller Easterling, Isabelle Graw, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Scorched Earth, Susan Sontag, Hito Steyerl, Triple Candie, Jan Verwoert and Eyal Weizman.
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  • Mind and Art

    Guy Sircello

    Product Code: BVLIK
    Hardback
    Guy Sircello's analysis of the varieties of expression and his use of them to justify a particular view of the human mind clarify a number of controversial topics in contemporary philosophy, among them the notion of "artistic acts," language as expression, the expression of ideas, expressions as "natural signs," and the nature of the causal relationship between an expression and what is expressed. Originally published in 1972. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
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  • Moved to Tears

    Rebecca Bedell

    Product Code: BUUJV
    Hardback
    A bold new view of sentimental art's significance in American visual culture from the eighteenth to the twentieth century In Moved to Tears, Rebecca Bedell overturns received ideas about sentimental art. Countering its association with trite and saccharine Victorian kitsch, Bedell argues that major American artists--from John Trumbull and Charles Willson Peale in the eighteenth century and Asher Durand and Winslow Homer in the nineteenth to Henry Ossawa Tanner and Frank Lloyd Wright in the early twentieth--produced what was understood in their time as sentimental art. This was art intended to develop empathetic bonds and to express or elicit social affections, including sympathy, compassion, nostalgia, and patriotism. Much sentimental art of this era was animated by and invested with socially transformative ambitions. Trumbull and Peale deployed their sentimental creations in the urgent effort to stabilize the new nation in the wake of the Revolutionary War. Through his work, Tanner opposed the virulent anti-Semitism of fin-de-si cle France. Even artists such as John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt, who had absorbed something of modernist disdain for sentimentalism, were aware of its commercial potential and popular appeal and negotiated complex relations with it. Beautifully illustrated, Moved to Tears transforms our understanding of the nature and influence of sentimental art.
  • Speculative Aesthetics

    James Trafford

    Product Code: BUUDN
    Paperback
    An examination of the new technological mediations between the human sensorium and the planetary media network and of the aesthetic as an enabler of new modes of knowledge. This series of interventions on the ramifications of Speculative Realism for aesthetics ranges from contemporary art's relation to the aesthetic, to accelerationism and abstraction, logic and design. From varied perspectives of philosophy, art, and design, participants examine the new technological mediations between the human sensorium and the massive planetary media network within which it now exists and consider how the aesthetic enables new modes of knowledge by processing sensory data through symbolic formalisms and technological devices. Speculative Aesthetics anticipates the possibility of a theory and practice no longer invested in the otherworldly promise of the aesthetic, but acknowledging the real force and traction of images in the world today, experimentally employing techniques of modelling, formalisation, and presentation so as to simultaneously engineer new domains of experience and map them through a reconfigured aesthetics that is inseparable from its sociotechnical conditions.

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