"The art world is bound to the economy," writes Julian Stallabrass, "as tightly as Ahab to the white whale." In Art Incorporated, Stallabrass offers a provocative look at contemporary art and the dramatic changes that have taken place in the last twenty years, illuminating the connections between money, politics, and art.
Stallabrass notes that the spectacular crash of 1989 profoundly changed the character of contemporary art, shattering the art-world's self-importance and producing a reaction against art that engaged with theory and politics, in favor of art that set out to awe, entertain, and be sold. He describes the growth of biennials and other art events across the globe in the 1990s, the construction of new museums of contemporary art, and the expansion of many museums already in existence. These activities, Stallabrass writes, have become steadily more commercial, as museums establish alliances with corporations, bring their products closer to commercial culture, and move from modeling themselves on libraries to becoming more like theme parks. In connection with this, he offers an insightful look at installation art, which is often seen as an art that firmly resists buying and selling, pointing out that installations appeal to museums precisely because a work of art that can only be seen on a particular site ensures that viewers have to go there.
Shedding light on everything from the greatly increased visibility for women artists, to the intense competition between art and television, to the conservative backlash against notorious works, Art Incorporated provides a frank and penetrating view of the contemporary art world.
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Julian Stallabrass is Lecturer in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Previously he was Paul Mellon Center Fellow at the Tate Gallery, assistant editor of the New Left Review, and tutor in Contemporary Art at the Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing, University of Oxford. His works include the highly controversial High Art Lite and Internet Art: The Online Clash of Culture and Commerce.
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