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!