For the USA, 1945 was a victory not only over the Axis powers, but also over the hegemony of European power and culture. This book explores how, since that time, American social and artistic history has shaped what we know as contemporary art, and how American art has responded to the unique cultural conditions of the time. For fifty years following World War II, New York was the centre of world art, influencing artists well beyond the USA. And, as Katy Siegel argues, since America lacked the European traditions underlying art, American art instead responded to extreme social conditions native to the country. Artists’ preoccupations ranged across a broad spectrum that encompassed issues of race, mass culture, the individual, suburbia, apocalypse and nuclear destruction, and Since ’45 discusses how these themes came to find their place in artworks. From Rothko’s planes of colour to Warhol’s serial silkscreens, from Richard Prince’s cowboys to Faith Ringgold’s Black Light series, Since ’45 examines artists and artworks within the broader spectrum of American society. Siegel’s narrative moves fluidly from discussion of artists’ works, art museums and galleries over the decades, to cultural influences and momentous historical events. In addition, rather than arguing on nationalist grounds, or viewing American culture as representative of a now-devalued nation, she explores how US culture dominated not only America’s artists, but created conditions that now, after the full globalization of the art world, affect artists worldwide. Lucidly argued and readable, combining aesthetic and social concerns, Since ’45 sheds light on the complexities of American art over half a century and more. It will interest all readers engaged in post-war and contemporary art in the USA and beyond.
About Katy Siegel
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Published March 28, 2013
by Reaktion Books.
History, Computers & Technology, Arts & Photography.