Contemporary Art, Systems, and the Aesthetics of Dispersion  book cover
1st Edition

Contemporary Art, Systems, and the Aesthetics of Dispersion

  • Available for pre-order on April 5, 2023. Item will ship after April 26, 2023
ISBN 9781032324920
April 26, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
120 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $64.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Using five case studies of contemporary art, this book uses ideas of systems and dispersion to understand identity and experience in late capitalism.


This book considers five artists who exemplify contemporary art practice: Seth Price; Liam Gillick; Martin Creed; Hito Steyerl and Theaster Gates. Given the diversity of materials used in art today, once-traditional artistic mediums and practices have become obsolete in describing what artists do today. Francis Halsall argues that, in the face of this obsolescence, the ideas of system and dispersion become very useful in understanding contemporary art. That is, practitioners now can be seen to be using whatever systems of distribution and display are available to them as their creative mediums. The two central arguments are first that any understanding of what art is will always be underwritten by a related view of what a human being is; and second that these both have a particular character in late capitalism or, as is named here, the Age of Dispersion.


The book will be of interest to scholars and students working in art history, contemporary art, studio art, and theories of systems and networks.

Table of Contents

Introduction  1. The Aesthetics of Dispersion  2. Seth Price: The Stuff of Systems  3. Liam Gillick: The Aesthetics of Disappointment  4. Martin Creed: The Anti-Readymade and the Dispersed Art Object  5. Theaster Gates and Systems of Improvisation and Entrepreneurship  6. Theaster Gates: Hito Steryel: In Defence of the Poor Manifest Image  Envoi: The End of Art, Again

View More



Francis Halsall is Lecturer in the History and Theory of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National College of Art and Design, Ireland and Co-Director of Master Programs, Art in the Contemporary World.