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The Contemporaries: Travels in the 21st-Century Art World

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  104 ratings  ·  15 reviews
It's been nearly a century since Marcel Duchamp exhibited a urinal and called it art. Since then, painting has been declared dead several times over, and contemporary art has now expanded to include just about any object, action, or event: dance routines, slideshows, functional hair salons, seemingly random accretions of waste. In the meantime, being an artist has gone ...more
Kindle Edition, 289 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by Bloomsbury USA
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"Then I wondered what would happen if all of Jonathan's paintings suddenly disappeared - would we talk about the walls? The critique might stop in its tracks, but maybe it would simply turn to the next available object, and then the next, picking up momentum as it did: from the walls to the room, the room to the building, the building to the school, the school to the MFA system, until, if there was enough time, we ultimately encountered the entire economy of art education and our vexed roles ...more
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, non-fiction
Roger White covers a ton of ground about contemporary art and manages to do so in less than 300 pages. His writing is concise and very journalistic, he shows us things but rarely critiques. In fact, even though he is an artist (painter) and art professor himself, he comes across as a kind of Nick Carraway of sorts, like he's standing in the Art World and witnessing what's going on but not really part of it.

White breaks his book into 6 parts, the ones I enjoyed most were the one about MFA
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read2016
Enjoyed this quite a lot. Smart discussions of art and economics and culture - reminded me a bit of Sarah Thornton's SEVEN DAYS IN THE ART WORLD structurally, which is not a bad thing at all.
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book to understand trends and movements of the contemporary art and art marketplace. Yes, two very different things that in conjunction define what is relevant (or at least should be such) for contemporary art lovers and buyers. White gives extremely lucid account of different movements of the 20th century art such as abstract expressionism, conceptualism, neoexpressionism and writes about them with enough detail to give a very rounded impression without overwhelming his reader with ...more
Krista Park
A decent description of the current lived experience within Contemporary art. More current than other books in this sub-genre, and more reflective on different practices within the USA (including regionalism). This is definitely a cultural studies book as opposed to an art history book, so set your expectations correctly.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, art, non-fiction
An easy read with an very measured voice (much more measured than my own) on contemporary art. Pair it with Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton.
Kimberly Schlarman
May 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
Enjoyable but simple look at the current status of contemporary art in America.

The book is broken into six sections. The first half covers different aspects of the art world: education and the MFA, art assistants and the history of apprenticeship, and Milwaukee as an example of smaller art centers outside NY, LA and Chicago. The second half looks at three different artists working in different fields of art: Dana Schutz and painting, Mary Walling Blackburn and performance/participatory art, and
Debra Komar
This book gets off to a killer, 5-star start, as the author recounts his time evaluating graduate level student work at a prominent college. The second chapter looks at the question of agency - the questions of factory-produced art and, if art is created solely by assistants, can another artist truly lay claim to it? Fascinating stuff, and the author's voice is conversational and very readable.

Unfortunately, the chapters that follow devolve into art-speak, with the requisite name-dropping,
Kevin McDonagh
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: art
Roger White takes us on a journeys within the rising industry of contemporary Art in North America. Similar in structure to Sarah Thornton's works it explored through adventures of the protagonists such as students, art workers and performance artists. However the journeys felt merely documented and not long considered or digested. White weighed in few opinions or insights, perhaps that is his intended approach but I picked up and put down this book desiring further artistic opinion upon all ...more
Patricia L.
I liked Sarah Thornton's book 33 Artists in 3 Acts better. I did get through Roger White's book. Each chapter had a different slant so it wasn't repetitive.

"Contemporary art is a time machine set exactly one second ahead of the present. Contemporary art is a sphere whose circumference is everywhere and whose centre is unaffordable."
Steven Felicelli
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Captures the rhetorical mania of contemporary art and the demoralizing hold capitalism has on it. It reads more like an Ionesco play set in a gallery, museum or MFA program than a "Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, etc.' Vasari would be bewildered by (/disgusted with) the Contemporary Art world.
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting survey of art as it is practiced in contemporary settings, from art school through practicing arts at the peak of their career. Heavy on Conceptualism. Heavy on art as it is practiced in social and living environments.
Bill Wells
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
There were times when reading this book that I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. The MFA critiques were especially enlightening. I am definitely a 20th century artist...
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was good to find out who is who these days.
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