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Books: The Artist’s Body

Books: The Artist’s Body

An Intriguing and Diverse Survey of Some of the Most Important Artists of the Century; New Affordable Format.

[amazonify]0714847011[/amazonify]As part of its critically-acclaimed “Themes and Movements” series, THE ARTIST’S BODY is a compelling look at the artists’ use of self and body as object and subject in their work, a movement that represents the state of contemporary art and makes a wider comment on the human condition. Bound or beaten naked or painted, still or spasmodic: the artist lives his or her art publicly in performance or privately in video and photography. Amelia Jones’ survey examines the most significant works in the context of social history and Tracey Warr’s selection of documents combines writings by artists, critics and philosophers.

Beginning with such key artists as Marcel Duchamp and Jackson Pollock, this book examines a selection of the most significant players who have used their bodies to create their art – among them, in the 1960s Carolee Schneemann, Rudolf Schwarzkogler, Yoko Ono; in the 1970s, Chris Burden, Ana Mendieta, Vito Acconci, Marina Abramovic; up to the turn of the millennium, Matthew Barney, Mac Quinn, Tracey Emin and Mona Hatoum.

In the survey, Amelia Jones, among the world experts in the field, discusses performance and body art against the background of social history. She examines the breakdown of barriers between art and life, visual and sensual experience – how artists have expanded and renewed the age-old tradition of self-portraiture, moving art out of the gallery into unexpected spaces and media. Each image is accompanied by an extended caption. The works are organized thematically.

* Painting Bodies, concerns work that shows the trace, stain or imprint of the artist’s body in response to the paint-on-canvas tradition.
* Gesturing Bodies, examines artists who transform the body – its acts, its gesture – into art, gesture, behavior and situations are used in place of art objects.
* Ritualistic and Transgressive Bodies, looks at work which uses the body to enact challenges to the social expectations of the body, often in rituals that perform a cathartic function. Mutilation and sacrifice are used to rupture personal and social homogeneity.
* Body Boundaries, examines boundaries between the individual body and the social environment and between the inside and outside of the body itself.
* Performing Identity, looks at issues of representation and identity.
* Absent Bodies, explores absence and the mortality of the body through photography, casting, imprints or remnants of the body.
* In Extended and Prosthetic Bodies, the body is extended through prosthetics or technology, to explore cyberspace and alternative states of consciousness.

Parallel to the illustrated works of art, this section combines texts by critics who shaped the movement, from Lucy R. Lippard to Thomas McEvilley. Alongside these writings by philosophers and thinkers such as George Bataille and Gilles Deleuze who have contributed on a theoretical level to the discussion around the body – a prevalent theme in twentieth-century cultural theory.

THE ARTIST’S BODY is a powerful and poignant look at an increasingly significant movement and art form. This book is an essential reference that examines some of the most cutting edge and innovative artists of our time. This new affordable edition is perfect for students of theater and art as well as anyone with an interest in contemporary art. (Editorial review from Amazon)

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Caden Manson is Editor In Chief and Curator of Contemporary Performance Network and co-founder and artistic director of Big Art Group, a New York City performance company founded in 1999.

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