The Triumph of Anti-Art: Conceptual and Performance Art in the Formation of Post-Modernism

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9780929701929: The Triumph of Anti-Art: Conceptual and Performance Art in the Formation of Post-Modernism

From roughly 1965 to 1980, Conceptual Art and Performance Art took center stage throughout the western world, introducing new and complex ideas to the practice of contemporary art which reverberate to this day. Thomas McEvilley's The Triumph of Anti-Art not only explains the origins of these controversial and compelling art forms, but also uncovers many relatively unrecognized yet indisputably important artists, American and European. He guides the reader through a thicket of seemingly arcane meanings of these nonrepresentational art form, and brings clarity to the intentions and agendas of these artists, as well as to their real world contexts. The long-term effects of anti-art and the development of the pluralistic situation known as post-Modernism, are described in vivid detail. From the Greek philosopher Diogenes, through the 19th-century German romantic tradition, to the modern art critic Clement Greenberg, McEvilley traces philosophical ideas and political impulses that temporarily led to a toppling of painting and sculpture in the decades right after World War II. Following an overview of Modernism and Marcel Duchamp's influence, a chapter on Yves Klein sets the state for surveys of Conceptual Art and its practitioners, including Bernar Venet, John Baldessari, and Francis Alys. McEvilley then gives equal focus to Performance Art with chapters on Andy Warhol, Brian O'Doherty, and Marina Abramovic and Ulay, among others. At the end of the volume the triumph of anti-art is explored in depth, as are the origins of the terms, practices, and politics of global art history.

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About the Author:

Thomas McEvilley is the author of dozens of books and monographs of art history, classical philology, and philosophy (including the monumental The Shape of Ancient Thought), and three novels (including North of Yesterday, published by McPherson in 1987), he lives in New York City. His art monographs include works on Julian Schnabel, Les Levine, Pat Steir, Ulay and Marina Abramovic, Janis Kounellis, and Bruce Conner.

From Publishers Weekly:

"Newman closed the door, Rothko pulled down the shade, Reinhardt turned out the lights, and Klein jumped out the window." If you get it, this is the book for you. A serious and well-argued study of conceptual and performance art, McEvilley explains how and where various forms and styles arose and outlines the work and theory surrounding key players. One of his main concerns is to show how anti-art, defined as art articulated through "(1) chance, (2) the Readymade, and (3) the procedure of creation by designation," came to be a major force in late 20th-century culture. A professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and author of several other books of art criticism, McEvilley unexpectedly starts his study with a look at ancient Greek Diogenes of Sinope, whom he calls the "patron saint of conceptual and performance art." From there the roots grow through Marcel Duchamp, Dada Yves Klein, Jospeh Beuys, Marina Abramovic and Carolee Schneemann, among others. Not an introductory book, McEvilley's study brings fresh insights to nonrepresentational artists and their work, finding new ways of thinking about the origins and overriding principals of that specialized world where post-anti-Modernism is distinct from neo-pre-Modernism.
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Thomas McEvilley
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