Modern Art: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780192803641

David Cottington
168 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Feb 2005
Very Short Introductions


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  • Much-needed, accessible approach that grapples clearly and provocatively with the complex idea of modern art
  • Cottington is the author of the best-selling book, Cubism
  • The book covers all main artists and movements, as well as the new developments in modern art
  • Examines key aspects of modern art using examples such as Manet's Dejeuner sur L'Herbe(1863) to Picasso's Les Demoiselles, and Tracey Emin's Bed (1999)
  • Looks at the role of the art dealer, from the main Cubist dealer, Kahnweiler to Charles Saatchi

As public interest in modern art continues to grow, as witnessed by the spectacular success of Tate Modern and the Bilbao Guggenheim, there is a real need for a book that will engage general readers, offering them not only information and ideas about modern art, but also explaining its contemporary relevance and history. This book achieves all this and focuses on interrogating the idea of 'modern' art by asking such questions as: What has made a work of art qualify as modern (or fail to)? How has this selection been made? What is the relationship between modern and contemporary art? Is 'postmodernist' art no longer modern, or just no longer modernist - in either case, why, and what does this claim mean, both for art and the idea of 'the modern'?

Cottington examines many key aspects of this subject, including the issue of controversy in modern art, from Manet's Dejeuner sur L'Herbe (1863) to Picasso's Les Demoiselles, and Tracey Emin's Bed, (1999); and the role of the dealer from the main Cubist art dealer Kahnweiler to Charles Saatchi.


Introduction: Modern Art: Monument or Mockery?
1: The formation of the Avant-Garde
2: New media, new messages
3: Somebody had to be Picasso: the artist as hero
4: High and Low: culture and consumerism
5: Past the post: whatever next?

About the author: 

David Cottington is Professor of History of Art at Falmouth College of Art. His previous publications include: Cubism ('Movements in Modern Art' series), (Tate Publishing, 1998), and Cubism in the Shadow of War, (Yale University Press, 1998).

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