Sex & Violence, Death & Silence: Encounters with Recent Art
'The Pop artists were among the first to understand the desire of consumers to change their lives through the purchase of clean, manufactured commodities. YBA, on the other hand, was more interested in the dirt that accrues beneath the laminate surface of shiny things. Their special perception was that cheap language and cheap materials didn't have to equal cheap thinking. The trick was to tell it in a jaunty, unportentous, off-hand, unliterary - anti-literary - way. And then there were the drugs.'
Spanning nearly 35 years, Sex & Violence, Death & Silence is a collection of the best of Gordon Burn's writing on art. Focusing on two principle generations - the Royal College pop art of Hockney and his contemporaries, and the YBA sensations of the 1990s - it explores how these artists rose to prominence with their friends and contemporaries, and what happened next.
Burn's work is fast becoming a kind of chronicle. Its factuality always connects with the broader poetic rythms of cultural life. Displaying all his customary insight and empathy, his writing adds up to much more than a collection of pieces on art: superbly evocative and engaging, it offers a pathway through two of the most important and vibrant periods in recent art history, and is another compelling and ruminative look at our culture.
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