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Surpassing Modernity: Ambivalence in Art, Politics and Society
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Andrew McNamara (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
Surpassing Modernity: Ambivalence in Art, Politics and Society by Andrew McNamara (Queensland University of Technology, Australia) at Abbey's Bookshop,

Surpassing Modernity: Ambivalence in Art, Politics and Society

Andrew McNamara (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)


Bloomsbury Academic

Theory of art;
Philosophy: aesthetics;
Social & political philosophy


264 pages

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For the past thirty to forty years, cultural analysis has focused on developing terms to explain the surpassing of modernity. Discussion is stranded in an impasse between those who view the term modernity with automatic disdain-as deterministic, Eurocentric or imperialistic-and a booming interest that is renewing the study of modernism. Another dilemma is that the urge to move away from, or beyond, modernity arises because it is viewed as difficult, even unsavoury. Yet, there has always been a view of modernity as somehow difficult to live with, and that has been said by figures we regard today as typical modernists.

McNamara argues in this book that it is time to forget the quest to surpass modernity. Instead, we should re-examine a legacy that continues to inform our artistic conceptions, our political debates, our critical justifications, even if that legacy is baffling and contradictory. We may find it difficult to live with, but without recourse to this legacy, our critical-cultural ambitions would remain seriously diminished.

How do we explain the culture we live in today? And how do we, as citizens, make sense of it? This book suggests these questions have become increasingly difficult to answer.

By:   Andrew McNamara (Queensland University of Technology Australia)
Imprint:   Bloomsbury Academic
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 138mm, 
Weight:   320g
ISBN:   9781350008342
ISBN 10:   1350008346
Pages:   264
Publication Date:   November 2018
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Andrew McNamara is an art historian and Professor, Visual Arts at Queensland University of Technology, Australia. His publications include: Sweat-the subtropical imaginary (2011); An Apprehensive Aesthetic (2009); Modern Times: The Untold Story of Modernism in Australia, with Ann Stephen and Philip Goad (2008). He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

Andrew McNamara has written a compelling book that situates the thirst for novelty that grew among vanguardist, cosmopolitan elites in the late 1980s and 1990s. Directing their animus against modernism, these thinkers, art historians and artists strove for a surpassing of the allegedly oppressive principles of modernist aesthetics. The novelty of surpassing modernism has worn off in an age of austerity, when the social democratic institutions that supported modernist experiments are in decay. McNamara does not offer a new term with which to deal with the historical thirst for the new: working in a highly interdisciplinary manner, he frames globalization of contemporary art practices in revealing and disquieting ways. -- Catherine Liu, Professor of Visual Studies and Film Studies, University of California, Irvine, USA Andrew McNamara has made a timely and important intervention in debates about the nature of contemporary art, and its contested relationship to the tradition of modernism. His book represents a challenge to many received ideas about that relation, and offers stimulating new perspectives for thinking about art in a global context. -- Paul Wood, Research Associate in Art History, the Open University, UK

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