Art Today

A seminal survey of the visual arts since the 1960s.

Edward Lucie-Smith


Price: €49.95

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This book is the definitive overview of the richest, most controversial and perhaps most thoroughly confusing epoch in the whole history of the visual arts: the period from 1960 to the present. Although the modern movement - unchallenged for the last six decades - has lost its dominance, it has been replaced by no single new orthodoxy. Artists, critics and the public alike are now confronted by a situation of unprecedented variety and complexity.

Edward Lucie-Smith is a close and well-informed watcher of the contemporary scene, combining a critical eye with a historian's insight into wider trends. Art Today reflects the dramatic changes that have swept across the art world since 1960 to challenge all the old assumptions and certainties. As he reviews the worldwide explosion of exciting new work, he illustrates with erudition and clarity that the art world is no longer hierarchical but plural, and that its structures, if they exist at all, are merely transient.

Art Today provides a map of an unstable world. With unfailing passion and acute aesthetic sensitivity, the author charts the progress of contemporary developments to elucidate their sources and interrelationships, many of them breathtakingly unexpected. This volume embodies a magnum opus in itself, as it brings to life the work of over 500 outstanding contemporary artists, all analysed in detail and illustrated in stunning colour.

Since its first publication in 1995, Art Today has become internationally recognized as an indispensable introduction to contemporary art. A principal reason for its success has been the author's ability to write without polemics, and to avoid impenetrable abstract theory and jargon. For students and anybody else confronting contemporary art for the first time, this is the ideal introduction. Well-organized, informative, authoritative and thought-provoking, it is the sole book available that provides both a clear and a comprehensive guide to the subject. It is now published in paperback format at an outstandingly competitive price.


Format: Paperback
Size: 290 x 250 mm (11 3/8 x 9 7/8 in)
Pages: 512 pp
Illustrations: 536 illustrations
ISBN: 9780714838885

Edward Lucie-Smith is well known as a poet, critic, broadcaster and writer on art and culture. His many books include Movements in Art since 1945, Race, Sex and Gender in Contemporary Art,American Realism and Art Deco Painting, also published by Phaidon.

"A triumph."—Independent on Sunday

"Exhaustive and up-to-the-minute survey."—Times Literary Supplement

"Takes on the intimidating task of tracing developments in painting and sculpture since 1960. Remarkably, it succeeds."—The Sunday Times

"The most comprehensive survey attempted so far... Written with authority, perception, and challenging judgement... An invaluable vessel of reliable reference in a sea of confusion."—Scotland on Sunday

A coffee-table corker of a book... This spectacular guide examines the history of the visual arts from 1960 to the present... Manages to do so without ever descending into a stodgy textbook style. For aficionados and novices alike, this is the essential guide to art today."—The Times

"What a treasure. This history of art since 1960 is so huge that it's hard to believe that anything could be left out. Lucie-Smith, the seasoned author, classifies the artworks by school (neo-Dada, perestroika, New York) but no amount of scholarship can constrain the fantastic, fertile variety of works on show here. Stunning colour reproductions appear on each page, making this collection very good value for money."—Guardian

"Lucid and informative text... Plentiful colour pics."—Galleries

"Phaidon’s designers should congratulate themselves for having produced a book whose selection and placement of images is really suberb... Allows... us to have access to a real cross-section of work, to have an opportunity to consider it, however briefly, and not to remain cramped within the confines of a particular decade... As a paperback, Art Today somehow seems to have come of age: it’s the right kind of format, however heavy it feels. As a document of its period it will probably continue to supersede for a long time all other books that dwell so lovingly upon more ephemeral aspects of total modernity."—Art Monthly

"A triumph."—Independent on Sunday

"Exhaustive and up-to-the-minute survey."—Times Literary Supplement

Art & Today
The Art Book


Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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