Why is that art?: aesthetics and criticism of contemporary art

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Oxford University Press, 2008 - Art - 231 pages
5 Reviews
Why Is That Art? addresses common questions that viewers raise about contemporary art: Why is that art? Why is it in an art museum? Who says it's art? If I did this, would it be art? Why is it good? Covering a broad, diverse, and engaging sampling of works--abstract and representational painting, monumental sculpture, performance art, video installations, films, and photographs--author Terry Barrett responds to these questions using three sources: the artists who created the works, philosophers of art, and art critics. Introducing students to a variety of established theories of art, he presents the traditional sets of criteria of Realism, Expressionism, and Formalism, which are in turn updated by recent sources of Poststructuralism. Barrett applies each of these theories to challenging works of contemporary art, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each mode of interpretation. He encourages students to consider many criteria when evaluating an artwork, to critically examine judgments made by others, and to make informed judgments of their own. Ideal for courses in aesthetics, art theory, art criticism, and the philosophy of art, Why Is That Art? is organized chronologically according to the history of aesthetics. It features sixty-seven illustrations (twenty-six in a full-color insert), discusses a wide range of American and European artists, and includes an exceptional overview of postmodern pluralism. This unique book will provide students with a newfound appreciation for contemporary art, scholarship, and reasoned argumentation, giving them the confidence to join the fascinating discourse on contemporary art.

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Review: Why Is That Art?: Aesthetics and Criticism of Contemporary Art

User Review  - Dave Hood - Goodreads

Good intro into theory and interpretation of contemporary art. Will help you appreciate the plethora of mediums in contemporary art. Read full review

Review: Why Is That Art?: Aesthetics and Criticism of Contemporary Art

User Review  - Brian - Goodreads

Very useful primer to get a sense of major themes and developments. Read full review


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About the author (2008)

Terry Barrett is Professor of Art Education, with a joint appointment in the Department of Art, at The Ohio State University, where he is the recipient of a distinguished teaching award for courses in criticism and aesthetics within education. He has authored four books: "Interpreting Art: Reflecting, Wondering and Responding; Criticizing Art: Understanding the Contemporary" (2nd ed.); "Criticizing Photographs: An Introduction to Understanding Images" (4th ed.); and "Talking about Student Art." He edited the anthology "Lessons for Teaching Art Criticism", published articles in "Aesthetic Education, Afterimage, Art Education, Exposure, Camera-Lucida, Dialogue, Cultural Research in Art Education, New Advocate, New Art Examiner, Studies in Art Education, Teaching Artist Journal, Theory into Practice, Visual Arts Research", and many chapters in edited books. He is an art critic in education for the Ohio Arts Council, consults museum education departments, juries exhibitions, and conducts workshops on studio critiques and writing.

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