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In the introduction to art:21 painter Robert Mangold is quoted thus –

“…I live in the country and I see wonderful sunlight and great cloud formations…but I’m never aware of any of that coming into my art in a direct way – so rather than the influence  coming from nature it comes from culture, from the History of Art and the culture of our times.”

A question might be, how many contemporary artists can be accused of “never being aware of any of that”? This book allows us to consider the work and the words of more than a dozen contemporary artists ranging from performance guru Marina Abramovich to the powerfully named but weakly coventional English-born painter Rackstraw Downes who now lives in Texas. Lavishly illustrated throughout we are presented with conventional and unconventional works. We are also presented with ill considered retro-kitsch on a grand scale which would seem to be close to the order of the day on many platforms but it is a good exhibition from the Sollins sisters and very much up to the high standards of Thames and Hudson.

Art 21/hardback/£27.50/9780615545660

Philip Maltman

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