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On the contemporary – and contemporary art history. A review of Terry Smith, What Is Contemporary Art

Author(s): Anthony Gardner | Huw Hallam

Journal: Journal of Art Historiography
ISSN 2042-4752

Volume: 4;
Start page: 4;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: contemporary art | contemporaneity | contemporary music | aura

This analysis of Terry Smith’s 'What Is Contemporary Art?' evaluates Smith’s ongoing project to theorise contemporary art around the theme of multiple, interconnected temporalities. It questions how this ‘contemporaneity’ differs from the classic teleologism of modernism and postmodern relativism and suggests that Smith’s categories may be valuable for understanding other cultural areas, such as contemporary music. It then raises methodological problems associated with charting the terrain of contemporary art and how they overlap with economic considerations, arguing that the task implies particular forms of privilege that may threaten the autonomy of critical analysis, but that Smith’s work goes some way toward exposing this problem.
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