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Sadly I've only come across this wonderful book (and its earlier companions) recently- a vast collection of key essays and theories relating to culture in the 20th Century. It certainly beats the **** out of a book like Beginning Theory, which is half the price but much, much shorter. A key book that should be owned by all undergraduates starting Uni operating in the wide remit of humanities. The essays/excerpts are short, easy to read & broken down into eight major sections and subsequent sub-sections. Seriously, this book is packed with the kind of thinking and quotations that should litter any university-standard essay- & also gives you a sample of certain writers- which could then be pursued from this wonderful starting point.
The book has sections on: Classicism & Originality; Expression & the Primitive; Modernity; Cubism; Neo-Classicism & the Call to Order; Dissent & Disorder; Abstraction & Form; Utility & Construction; The Modern as Ideal; Realism as Figuration; Realism as Critique; Modernism as Critique; The American Avant-Garde; Individualism in Europe; Art&Society; Art&Modern Life; Modernist Art; Objecthood&Reductivism; Attitudes to Form; Critical Revisions; The Critique of Originality; Figures of Difference;& The Condition of History. Seriously you could easily read the lot in the first year at uni, setting you up greatly for the harder years that follow...Plenty of key cultural thinkers appear here, a brief survey of the contents pages offers Freud, Rilke, Kandinsky, Croce, Lenin, Wyndham Lewis, Braque, Picasso, Spengler, Duchamp, Man Ray, Tatlin, Klee, Jung, Alfred Rosenberg, John Reed, Trotsky, Breton, Bataille, Brecht, Adorno, Pollock, Sartre, Artaud, Lacan, Camus, Bacon, Schlesinger Jr, Lukacs, Barthes, Raymond Williams,Cage, Warhol, Robbe-Grillet, Derrida, Foucault, Mulvey, Jameson, Said, Baudrillard, Kristeva, Wollen, & just about every major theorist of the 20th Century.
This book is excellent value and the ideal primer for anyone studying any subject relating to theory (pretty much most); only quibble would be the relatively fragile cover, which would require a plastic cover or be easily ruined with the amount of reference to this book that would no doubt occur. OWN!
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on 31 March 2008
This book is filled to the brim with 371, yes 371 individual sources/texts each with an introduction to contextualise each one. Using it for an essay or dissertation will provide you with quotes that you would not be able to find in other books as well as giving you some of the more obvious source which are great too. It is a big book at 1250 pages which was intimating at first when it dropped through the door but really quickly I discovered that its as good as having a whole library in one book which is just about portable.

This is a great book and when you start using it you will realise what a bargain it is too. Worth its weight in gold
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on 16 April 2006
I reluctantly bought this book believing it would join others on my bookshelf, however it has become my primary source of reference before starting any art essay. How did I manage before? For anyone with an interest in Fine Art this is a must have! I've noticed that it is difficult to obtain this book now -Phew! got my copy just in time. Seek it out and but it now!! This is one you really need!
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on 10 November 2009
If you are looking for artists' own words about their art rather than analysis of other authors, I highly recommend you this book. Very helpful and informative. Full of interviews with hundreds of artists.
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on 10 December 2009
This book has been referenced in every single essay i have written for my undergraduate degree. I owe my BA to it.
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on 20 March 2010
Hugely factual book. Love both artists sources and short preparatory remarks. Can and will dip endlessly!!!!! Can be hard going so some knowledge of artists work useful. Excellent brain and discussion fodder and a mine of stuff for the more intuitive.
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on 18 January 2010
I was told to purchase this book while at university. Has alot of information useful for a Fine Art course, or Art History. Or just general use. Includes information from Clement Greenberg to Robert Mapplethorpe
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on 3 September 2009
it is a great collection of art theories written not only by art critics but also by artists! It is a book you must have
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on 4 November 2010
I'm studying Art History at university, and this book has proved vital reading. A wealth of sources.
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on 30 January 2011
I have read essays from this book on numerous occasions and found it to be an indispensable book for research. Well considered in terms of layout and material, and holding many gems of information. However, do not expect it to be an easy read picture book - the material requires a degree of serious intent towards research. Worth every penny!
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