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What to read: 10 books on contemporary art and culture

Be In Trend has prepared a selection of 10 books on contemporary art, which will help from different angles to look at the art of the last 100 years. The list includes both non-fiction books and studies of famous contemporary art critics, art historians and philosophers.

What is a work of art today and how can it be? What is modern culture like? These and many other questions, in fact, are set not only by the audience, but also by the actors and researchers themselves. Natural is the process of constantly reviewing all these issues, analyzing what has been done in art over the past few centuries and tracking the artistic processes of our time. Therefore, today there are many different ways to understand for yourself such a diversity of the modern art world: you can follow specialized Internet publications about culture, you can read more advanced studies of historians, philosophers, art critics and curators, good, recently began to translate into Russian Ukrainian languages ​​books of famous foreign experts.

So, from a relatively large amount of literature on art, we have selected 10 books about contemporary art and culture in general, which will help to orient in the field of artistic activities so wide today:


St. Petersburg publishing house “Klaudberry” recently translated the book of the famous English art critic, writer and artist John Berger “Art to see”, written by him in 1972 based on the BBC movie of the same name. In his book, the art critic examines the important changes that have occurred with the perception of art over the past 100 years. Berger compares well-known works of art with today’s mass media culture, in particular advertising and all the visual images associated with it, showing that the connection between them does exist. The book is fundamental to understanding modern culture.


In his book, the famous curator and art critic Francesco Bonami raises the question of whether it is the art of the work of contemporary artists. In an easy, accessible form, the critic explains the history of art of the 20th century, the great artist is different from the mediocre, why Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol stood the test of time. The Bonami book is suitable for those who are just beginning to be interested in contemporary art and want to understand the principles by which the world artistic system works and who is who in it.


In 2000, the columnist of the famous American magazine “The New Yorker”, as well as Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue published a book that describes today’s popular culture, which gave the term “Noubrau”. “The old differences between the high culture of the aristocracy and the commercial culture of the masses were destroyed, and in their place a hierarchy of“ fashion ”arose,“ the term Sibruk explains. In 2012, it was translated and published by Ad Marginem Moscow publishing house, but even after 12 years in the post-Soviet space, it is still relevant. In his book, the journalist explores and shows with concrete examples how the state of culture changed in the late 1970s, after the appearance of a global supermarket.


In 2007, the famous curator and publicist Piroshka Dossi wrote and published the bestseller “Sold! Art and Money ”, in which she described how the modern art market is organized. In the book, Dossey attempted to describe the relationship between economics and art in accessible language. Why some works are sold for thousands and millions of dollars, how contemporary works of art are valued – Pyro Dossi gives detailed answers to these and many other questions. In her opinion, nowadays, when art objects have become status symbols, and the author’s skill has ceased to be the main evaluation criterion, it becomes much more interesting to explore the process of pricing a work of art than in the “classical” era.


In brief, we have already tried to tell who such a curator is today and what functions he performs. But those who want to really get into the essence of this profession should read a book – a collection of interviews by the world famous curator Hans Ulrich Obrist “A Brief History of Curation”. The book is a collection of interviews curator with other well-known curators, whose contribution to the history of art can not be overestimated. With this cycle of interviews, Obrist tried firsthand to write down the history of the formation of American and European museums and their first exhibitions. Due to the form of conversation, moments of memories of both workers and personal situations, the book is read very easily.

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