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The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change Paperback – 2 Sep 1991


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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd; Enlarged edition edition (2 Sept. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500275823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500275825
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 3.3 x 27.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Hughes was born in Australia in 1938 and has lived in Europe and the United States since 1964. Since 1970 he has worked in New York as an art critic for Time Magazine. He has twice received the Franklin Jeweer Mather Award for Distinguished Criticism from the College Art Association of America.

Product Description

Review

'The definitive book on 20th-century art and design'
--Creative Review

Review

`You will refer back to these precious books again and again'
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 April 2002
Format: Paperback
Robert Hughes has written a very readable and extremely informative introduction to developments in 20th century art. This illustrated book was originally written to accompany a TV series of the same name. Whilst focusing primarily on art, neither architecture nor design are overlooked. The social, political and economic contexts of artistic development (such as the impact of war and totalitarianism) are not forgotten - as the subtitle "art and the century of change" suggests. Any person interested in modern art (and the contexts leading to emergence of styles) will enjoy and ought to read this book.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
Hughes has the gift of producing an extraordinarily well turned phrase that, without being needlessly complex, can encapsulate a big idea with ease. Where better to employ such a skill than in explaining the history of modern art? Through each of the thematic chapters Hughes keeps his story grounded in the history of the 20th century, demonstrating how modernism sought to describe the experience of that era and that for many key art movements this was a practical task of vital importance. To bring that vitality and immediacy back through the well-chosen example and well-turned phrase is the heart of this book's success. Hughes expresses views with which other art historians may disagree, but this book is perhaps the best way into the subject as a whole.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 July 2009
Format: Paperback
It's been over a week now since I finished this and I'm still arguing, or at least discussing, with Hughes in my head, many of the issues arising directly and indirectly from my reading. I am very familiar with many of the reproductions in this book from my University days, when this was a set text for my then Girlfriend's Art History course. I have a vague recollection of seeing some of the TV programmes too, which lamentably do not appear to be released on DVD.

Recent animated discussions on the Amazon classical music forum have awakened an interest in general 20th Century Cultural History, one aspect of which is consideration of the visual arts. Browsing for a general book to bring me up to speed on these matters I found that this was still, over twenty years later, the book to go for.

Before all else I have to praise Hughes' prose which is poetic and poetically informed without being remotely limp-wristed or pretentious as so much writing on art is. It is vigorously intelligent without being elitist or esoteric, and has a robust common-sense quality even when discussing the most abstract considerations, bringing the issues vividly to life.

Hughes does not attempt to present a unified narrative of the subject but rather identifies a selection of broad themes, which he then pursues more or less chronologically, and and with each of which he associates a group of more or less representative artists, some well known but a few less well known. In general more text is devoted to the early half of the century than thw latter.

Thus, for instance, the theme of the first chapter is the impact of burgeoning technology on society and the response of artists to it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By pete VINE VOICE on 3 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
A set text in art schools this will help you see where art students get all their original ideas from, The SOTN is an excellent book, not light reading but weighty intelligent and written with all the gusto and opinion that Robert Hughes appraoches everything. Excellent stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Coolbox on 17 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Funnily enough I purchased the book just after the death of the author and the release of the archive film documentaries the book is based on. So I could read and watch at the same time which only increased the value of the books content.
The author has a unique writing style which can be a little verbose is easily absorbed, the content and critique is excellent, he is not afraid of giving opinion. Many art books are just glorified lists of prominent artists of each "ism" giving a brief outline of each movement, its mandate, a few photographs of the most well known paintings, then onto the next "ism". The Shock of the New is a very good read, it would help if the BBC produced the Documentary on DVD so you could read and watch a the same time
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By "juno@freakyfrog.net" on 3 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is absolutely great to read and provides a critical understanding of the course of modern art, not so much in a chronological sense but relating each art currents and/or artists to present a clearer idea on its background and concepts. A very pleasant reading whilst raising issues that make the reader rethink the reasons behind each significant art moment.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Valery Koroshilov VINE VOICE on 15 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
Although this text focuses mainly on art, as the title suggests, a great deal of important issues concerned with design and architecture are also covered. Well illustrated, it was written for "THE SHOCK OF THE NEW" TV series. Highly informative, not overwhelming, well structured, it's an excellent source of introductory material for everyone who is interested in the styles and movements of the 20th century art, and the contexts (political, economic and social) which formed the art developments. Robert Hughes's writing style matches the subject perfectly.
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