Contemporary Art: World Currents | National Humanities Center

Work of the Fellows: Monographs

Contemporary Art: World Currents

By Terry Smith (NHC Fellow, 2007–08)

Art Criticism; Contemporary Art; Art History

Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2011

From the publisher’s description:

Contemporary Art: World Currents is the first comprehensive worldwide survey of contemporary art from the 1980s to the present day.

Author Terry Smith argues that, in recent decades, a global shift from modern to contemporary art has occurred: artists everywhere have embraced the contemporary world’s teeming multiplicity, its proliferating differences and its challenging complexities and new technologies. Alongside more than 350 carefully selected color images of key works, Terry Smith offers the first account of these changes, from their historical beginnings to the present day. Exploring key works by both well known and little-known artists, the author shows how contemporary art achieved definitive force in the markets and museums of the major art centres during the 1980s and then became a global phenomenon as artworlds everywhere began to connect more closely: new communicative technologies and expanding social media are now shaping the future of art.

Contemporary Art: World Currents breaks new ground in tracing how modern, traditional and indigenous art became contemporary in each cultural region of the world, ranging across Western, East and Central Europe, North and South America and the Caribbean, Oceania, Africa, and the Middle East. Terry Smith lays the groundwork for a new comparative approach to contemporary art, emphasizing its relationships to all aspects of contemporary life. He argues that it is cultural diversity and individual artistic inventiveness, not a convergence towards sameness, which makes today’s art contemporary.

Contemporary Art: World Currents brings the subject right up-todate, highlighting the concerns of contemporary artists while giving the reader an invaluable insight to art today.

Art / Art Criticism / Contemporary Art / Art History /

Smith, Terry (NHC Fellow, 2007–08). Contemporary Art: World Currents. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2011.