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The Curious Curator's Book Blog

Contemporary art curator. Student. Book addict. Art lover. Geek. Dreamer. Curious about everything. Check out my website http://thecuriouscurator.com/

Currently reading

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ArtSpeak by Robert Atkins

ArtSpeak: A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1945 to the Present - Robert Atkins

An illustrated guide to the movements and buzzwords of the post-World War II art world.

All professional worlds have their own language and codes that seem impenetrable to outsiders, and the art world is no different. However, art is unique in that even those who consider themselves insiders seem to resent the opaqueness of words, denouncing the quizzical texts that can be found in exhibition press releases and catalogues as a pompous, non-sensical attempt to be “deep". This book is the perfect antidote to that.

The truth is that a lot of the writing you find in the art world today is baffling, but that doesn’t mean that all the buzzwords are meaningless. Naming movements and concepts helps us make sense of the largely fluid and eclectic art world, and it gives us points of reference to attempt to construct art historical narratives. The problem is that a lot of today’s art is better understood when you are aware of those points of reference, which makes a lot of people feel inadequate when they visit a gallery. This book explains all the movements and buzzwords in plain English, detailing the origins, the artists, and the influence of styles, movements and ideas. As such, it is an excellent read both for beginner art enthusiasts and those on the inside who need a reference book (granted, a superficial one, but good as a starting point) to the major developments of modern and contemporary art.

It was refreshing to see that this includes not only Western art movements, but also those from Brazil, China, Japan, and Australia, among other places. My only complaint is that , with a few exceptions, the Middle Eastern region is largely ignored, which is not entirely surprising, as this region’s artistic narratives have only recently begun to be explored by the mainstream, but it is something to keep in mind for the next edition of this book.

A good book to offer to your non-artistic oriented friends, so that they will start coming with you to gallery and museum openings without feeling left out of the conversation.


Note: I got this book for review purposes through NetGalley. This review has been cross-posted to my Curious Curator blog.