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Art in Theory, 1900–2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas

(Art in Theory)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  9,980 ratings  ·  51 reviews
This popular anthology of twentieth-century art theoretical texts has now been expanded to take account of new research, and to include significant contributions to art theory from the 1990s.

New edition of this popular anthology of twentieth-century art-theoretical texts. Now updated to include the results of new research, together with significant contributions from the 1
Paperback, 1288 pages
Published October 22nd 2002 by Wiley-Blackwell (first published 2002)
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Harlan Vaughn
Jun 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
It hit me, but felt like a kiss.
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, reference, theory
Goes without saying... as this is the standard reference (at least back in my day). It's different than other reference books (I guess some wouldn't even call it that) in that it has parts or wholes of the original sources with a short abstract prefacing each. Also, the selections are grouped not only by periods but by ideas within periods such as "Objecthood and Redctivism" (within Modernism) or "The Critique of Originality" (within Postmodernism). Enough heady material for years of excavation ...more
Mafe Pazos
Oct 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
MIND-BLOWING. Harrison's compilation catalogues the progression of discourse on the nature of form versus content, the formation of the historical perspective and the nuances present in the development of ideas through the art discussion and its significance to the understanding of existence and the search for meaning.

Beginning with the idolization of Cezanne and the rise of Expressionism, the conversation traverses down the path of Futurists, Social Realists, Neoclassicists and even Dadaists,
David Williamson
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Possible the most important book I own, if you're into art, this is your Bible and shame on you if you do not own it. ...more
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As a visual art major in grad school and teacher, this book is a necessity when writing papers for art history, criticism and critiques because it offers insights from some of the best artists and critics of the age. A lot of the articles require extra research to comprehend, however, after reading and researching most of this (very thick) book, I have learned a great deal about theories and ideas I never knew existed in Art. This will stay on my book shelf for the rest of forever.
May 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Oh Art Theory... how I love thee but hate thee all at the same time. This book is a great resource and a must for any art historian. Filled with lots of great articles -- some great, some B.S., but still a good resource.
Brianne Walasek
Aug 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
a meaty read. LOTS of artist statements and writings on their own work. This is a collection of manifestos, reviews and essays that's unmatched by anything else i've seen. thorough and engrossing ...more
Jul 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
unbelievably hard to read (i came accross the word altermondialisation - stupid bourriard and his stupid made-up words) but unfortunately this book is invaluable to any artist/art-student.
Meg Mjaatvedt
and by read, I mean I use it as a book press
Laurie Adams
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book (most of it) for a Art Theory and Criticism class I took last semester for college. Man, it is a dense huge book, ( 1258 pages!) A lot of it was very dense reading too because many of the theorists' articles in the book was from the 1920s to the 1940s written in a time when academic language was very ahem, academic and extremely scholarly and also from a time that is not current. So a lot of the material was very hard to parse. Perhaps I am more pedestrian but I do like things t ...more
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A most useful anthology of essays and excerpts for art students and anyone trying to enter the world of art theory. Not only proper 'art writing' by the likes of Greenberg, Leo Steinberg, Krauss, Lippard & Michael Fried, and observations by almost all pioneering 20th c. artists, the collection also squeezes in relevant excerpts from most seminal works of theory (from Simmel, Weber, Freud & Bergson to Habermas, Foucault, Derrida, Baudrillard, Kristeva, Spivak...) that will help one grasp all conc ...more
Isaac Rojas
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
It works for the understanding of how the elements of art have been forged throughout time by word and writing of the most influential personalities in their historic context, but as a dilettante on art history it would have been much helpful something more chronological. Anyways, surely this is a must be for students on the matter or anyone who wants to dig on the essentials.
Martin Ridgway
A useful guide through the last century of art, even if some of the readings are tedious and pretentious in the extreme. Notwithstanding that, the section and extract introductions are clear and useful. Again, thematic rather than chronological layout.
Mayank Singh
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.
Pablo Picasso
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
art and teory is really good
Yair Martinez
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a psychological book
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Doris Raines
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Charles N.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shaun Johnson
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reading this entire book felt like an achievement. Near the end it was harder to read because mid-way I decided that art critics are boring. And they are. They just ramble on and on and on and on. The real jewel of this book is the text by artists themselves, their symposiums, and their interviews. As an artist myself I felt a profound kinship with this text. This book also introduced to me artists I knew little (or nothing) about, their movements, their politics, and their theories. It is not o ...more
Cate Brooks
Nov 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is an incredible resource for anyone wanting to contextualize modern-contemporary art and who doesn't know where to start. The excerpts in it are the most valuable primary reources you will find in one place ranging from artists' statements, on all the wild movements during this exciting century, to contemporary criticism like that of Greenberg and Fry. The text is thick and painful at times but so rewarding. It offers the most pure perspective and explanation of these ideas from those who ...more
Tshepang Tshepo
Jul 21, 2015 marked it as to-read
same day I was going with my friends to the the way we were talking about how are we gonna run our own business so we took a big cardbord so that we can come with our own plan.and that plan took 5day using our own it was painfull for us bet look were I'm I I'm standing hare like a small boy without knowing much more thing so now I'm having my own business I implore many people to work for m .we must not be like ZUMA let just improve our South Africa if u or I be a precedent in S. ...more
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art
Not the type of book I could read cover to cover, yet full of pivotal moments in art from 1900-2000. I find myself dipping in and out whenever a new interest or area of art captures my attention. It was purchased as a mandatory text for the theory component of my art degree, but remains a staple on my bookshelf.
Mary Emily O'Hara
Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Art in Theory is not a book you "currently read" or finish, really. It's a constantly accessible resource that allows a peek into any given intellectual era within the bounds of its temporal bracketing. I'm always checking it for references, then re-checking it for ideas, then combing it for inspiration. MUST HAVE ON DESK AT ALL TIMES. Thank you.
Apr 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: prospective art historians to analyze contemporary art, otherwise not worth the trouble
there are more than a couple of must read essays in Art In Theory, amazing writings by artists and art critics that are necessary to be discussed among artists and art historians mostly for one good reason, that these readings will confuse the artists in their art practice.
Scott Tait
May 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
Useful if you're studying art history or any art subject however it's not a light read. This is hardcore academic writing which could easily put you to sleep if your not careful. Thankfully the book his thick as a brick so could make a good cushion or a doorstop might be a good use for it. ...more
Mar 05, 2007 is currently reading it
this book is very annoying
but it tells you a lot about modern art
Octavius Neveaux
Jun 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who cares for art
i keep reading it over and over for the past 7 years
I'm fuckin' gaga for this book
Sep 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art
The bible. Ok, maybe not your bible...but mine.
Curtis Bozif
Oct 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Artists
I learned stuff about art.
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Charles Townsend Harrison, BA Hons (Cantab), MA (Cantab), PhD (London) was a prominent UK art historian who taught Art History for many years and was Emeritus Professor of History and Theory of Art at the Open University.

He was tutor in Art History, Open University, 1977-2005, Reader in Art History 1985-1994, Professor of the History & Theory of Art, 1994-2008, Professor Emeritus, 2008-2009; Visit

Other books in the series

Art in Theory (4 books)
  • Art in Theory, 1648–1815: An Anthology of Changing Ideas
  • Art in Theory, 1815–1900: An Anthology of Changing Ideas
  • Art in Theory, 1900–1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas

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