1st Edition

Re-envisioning the Contemporary Art Canon Perspectives in a Global World

Edited By Ruth Iskin Copyright 2017
    310 Pages 42 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    310 Pages 42 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Re-envisioning the Contemporary Art Canon: Perspectives in a Global World seeks to dissect and interrogate the nature of the present-day art field, which has experienced dramatic shifts in the past 50 years.

    In discussions of the canon of art history, the notion of ‘inclusiveness’, both at the level of rhetoric and as a desired practice is on the rise and gradually replacing talk of ‘exclusion’, which dominated critiques of the canon up until two decades ago. The art field has dramatically, if insufficiently, changed in the half-century since the first protests and critiques of the exclusion of ‘others’ from the art canon.

    With increased globalization and shifting geopolitics, the art field is expanding beyond its Euro-American focus, as is particularly evident in the large-scale international biennales now held all over the globe. Are canons and counter-canons still relevant? Can they be re-envisioned rather than merely revised? Following an introduction that discusses these issues, thirteen newly commissioned essays present case studies of consecration in the contemporary art field, and three commissioned discussions present diverse positions on issues of the canon and consecration processes today.

    This volume will be of interest to instructors and students of contemporary art, art history, and museum and curatorial studies. 

    List of Illustrations



    Re-envisioning the Canon: Are Pluriversal Canons Possible?

    Ruth E. Iskin

    Part I: Artists


    Chapter 1

    Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore: Casualties of a Backfiring Canon?

    Tirza True Latimer

    Chapter 2

    Jean-Michel Basquiat and the American Art Canon

    Jordana Moore Saggese

    Chapter 3

    Sheila Hicks and the Consecration of Fiber Art

    Elissa Auther

    Chapter 4

    The Elephant in the Church: Ai Weiwei, the Media Circus and the Global Canon

    Wenny Teo

    Chapter 5

    El Anatsui’s Abstractions: Transformations, Analogies and the New Global

    Elizabeth Harney

    Part II: Mediums/Media


    Chapter 6

    The Apotheosis of Video Art

    William Kaizen

    Chapter 7

    Performance Art: Part of the Canon?

    Jennie Klein

    Chapter 8

    Street Art: Critique, Commodification, Canonization

    Paula J. Birnbaum

    Chapter 9

    New Media Art and Canonization: A Round-Robin Conversation

    Sarah Cook with Karin de Wild

    Part III: Exhibitions, Museums, Markets


    Chapter 10

    On the Canon of Exhibition History

    Felix Vogel

    Chapter 11

    Canonizing Hitler’s "Degenerate Art" in Three American Exhibitions, 1939‒1942

    Jennifer McComas

    Chapter 12

    Museum Relations

    Martha Buskirk

    Chapter 13

    The Commodification of the Contemporary Artist and High-Profile Solo Exhibition:

    The Case of Takashi Murakami

    Ronit Milano

    Chapter 14

    Troubling Canons: Curating and Exhibiting Women’s and Feminist Art, A Roundtable Discussion

    Helena Reckitt

    Chapter 15

    The Contemporary Art Canon and the Market, A Roundtable Discussion

    Jonathan T. D. Neil

    List of Contributors




    Ruth E. Iskin is the author of The Poster: Art, Advertising, Design, and Collecting, 1860s-1900s (2014) and Modern Women and Parisian Consumer Culture in Impressionist Painting (2007). Her articles appeared in the Art Bulletin, Discourse, and Nineteenth-Century Art World Wide among others, and in anthologies and museum catalogues, most recently of the Guggenheim, Bilbau. A member of the Department of the Arts faculty, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev until 2014, she currently lectures and teaches in Israel and abroad. 

    Re-envisioning the Contemporary Art Canon is a timely, necessary volume, one that asks—across lucid and jargon-free case studies and equally dynamic round-table discussions—whither the place of the art historical canon in a contemporary art world. Answers diverge, and for the better. Taken together the texts model a pluriversal discourse that may well become a standard of its own.

    Suzanne Hudson, Associate Professor of Art History and Fine Arts, University of Southern California, USA

    Re-envisioning the Contemporary Art Canon is an intellectually astute intervention into the growing literature on contemporary art, its validation and significance within the history of art. Through a series of fascinating essays and well-written introductory sections, this book sets out the premises for a critical account of how contemporary art canons get created in a range of institutional and discursive contexts globally.

    Jonathan Harris, Professor in Global Art and Design Studies, Birmingham City University, UK

    Re-envisioning the Contemporary Art Canon is a wonderful contribution that examines art historical canons and the political, social, and ethical forces that shape and reshape them. In examining canons in myriad contexts, this text pressures us to rethink how we understand and categorize art and the artworld in our globalized present.

    Steven Nelson, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

    The concept of the canon is a persistent one; even when considered obsolete, it continues to operate covertly in collecting, exhibition and scholarly practices. This volume brings the concept out into the open for a full and intensive discussion of its problematics and possibilities. At a time when geopolitical, gender and postcolonial perspectives are generating more inclusive methods in curating and art history, Re-envisioning the Contemporary Art Canon provides a compelling argument to not only critique the canon but to strategically reconceive it for the twenty-first century.

    Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher, Editors, Journal of Curatorial Studies