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The Contemporaries Audiobook

The Contemporaries: Travels in the 21st-Century Art World

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Publisher's Summary

It's been nearly a century since Marcel Duchamp exhibited a urinal and called it art. Since then painting has been declared dead several times over, and contemporary art has now expanded to include just about any object, action, or event: dance routines, slideshows, functional hair salons, seemingly random accretions of waste. In the meantime being an artist has gone from a join-the-circus fantasy to a plausible vocation for scores of young people in America. But why - and how and by whom - does all this art get made? How is it evaluated? And for what, if anything, will today's artists be remembered?

In The Contemporaries, Roger White, himself a young painter, serves as our spirited, skeptical guide through this diffuse, creative world. White takes us into the halls of the RISD graduate program, where students learn critical lessons that go far beyond how to apply paint to canvases. In New York we meet the neophytes who assist established artists - and who walk the fine line between "assistance" and "making the art". In Milwaukee White trails a group of friends trying to create a viable scene where rent is cheap but where the spotlight rarely shines. And he gives us an intimate perspective on three wildly different careers: that of Dana Schutz, an emerging star who is revitalizing painting; that of Mary Walling Blackburn, whose challenging art defies market forces; and that of Stephen Kaltenbach, a '70s wunderkind who is back on the critical radar, perhaps in spite of his own willful obscurity.

From young artists trying to elbow their way in to those working hard at dropping out, White's essential audiobook offers a once-in-a-generation glimpse of the inner workings of the American art world at a moment of unparalleled ambition, uncertainty, and creative exuberance.

©2015 Roger White (P)2015 Audible Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (44 )
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  •  
    Jenny Jenkins 06-17-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mispronunciations Spoil This Reading!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Contemporaries to be better than the print version?

    Sorry to say, no. The narrator is fine but mispronounces names that are common in the art world. Audio books need editors and the equivalent of proofreaders, and this book is a case in point. Audible, wake up! Mispronunciations in an audio book are the equivalent of sloppy typos in an otherwise fine book. They break the mood, they bring you back to the reality that the narrator is not actually the author and is not actually an authority on anything. In an audio book, that is really, really bad.

    Some examples: An entire chapter is set at RISD for an exploration of the MFA program. Rather than pronounce the art school's name "Riz-dee" as everyone does if they have ever heard of it before, the narrator pronounces each letter separately: "R I S D". William de Kooning is pronounced with a long O.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    I gave the book one star to note how important the mispronunciations are. But it's not the narrator's fault. It's the producers' fault. Someone must be listening and advising and providing feedback to any performer for the production to be as good as it should be.


    Any additional comments?

    Publishers, you should do oversight of the audio version to ensure this kind of absurdity doesn't happen. You spend so much time and money on publishing a book. Why let these silly errors undermine those efforts? Audio books play a huge part in generating interest and buzz in all forms of a book. But how can I recommend this audio book to my friends? They would laugh at the absurdity of not knowing how RISD is pronounced in a book purportedly expert in the current art world.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grant Solon, OH United States 06-26-15
    Grant Solon, OH United States 06-26-15 Member Since 2015
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    "moments of interest"

    unclear what qualifies Whites case studies for their central role in his anthropological narrative. His musings are sometimes insightful but largely parrot the conclusions already fostered elsewhere. A good intro for the complete novice but possibly frustrating (especially as it goes on) for to those already somewhat familiar.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-05-16
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    "Not what I was expecting"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I really struggled with this book, after reading the description and listening to the intro I was hoping that i would be more of a description of contemporary artists and their art, which it was towards the end. But most of the book was a discussion of graduate school which for me was like stepping back into time.


    Was The Contemporaries worth the listening time?

    Not really, I don't think I would have actaully read the book if I had just bought it or checked it out of the library.


    Any additional comments?

    I think is a great discussion about graduate school and would probably be a good book for undergraduate artists to read but I felt like it was bipolar in a sense. It wanted to be about contemporary art but it wanted to talk about where it came from. The beginning didn't sync with the end and I was hoping for more discussion like the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Marie Hardin-McGregor 06-02-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Read anything else"

    The narrator was fine but this book is so out of touch I was shocked it was published in 2015.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lucas Graham The Great Northwest 03-26-16
    Lucas Graham The Great Northwest 03-26-16 Member Since 2011

    fearless hyena

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    "Captures the movement with anecdotes"

    There were a couple times when I wondered why the author spent so much time on a specific artist or event. I realized though, that it's impossible to effectively describe an art movement by talking about the movement itself. He captures the essence of the movement with very specific anecdotes. It's very effective in this case.
    I'm an aspiring artist and trying to choose my best path forward. This book didn't give me clear guidance, but it helped remove some of my infatuation with art school.
    The style of the narration was perfect for this book. The narrator spoke as if he was telling a kind of funny story (which he was.) He was upbeat, a little playful, not silly, or over the top.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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