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The Big Picture: Contemporary Art in 10 Works by 10 Artists
Author: Matthew Israel
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Prestel (March 25, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 3791382845
ISBN-13: 978-3791382845
Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 7.1 x 9.4 inches

How do we understand contemporary art today? Where do we even start? Where do we end up? Art historian Matthew Israel responds to these questions by exploring ten of today’s most exciting contemporary artworks created by ten artists over a span of fifteen extraordinary years. With a clear eye for the captivating detail and a deep appreciation for the panoramic view, Israel reveals the fascinating stories behind each of the artworks, connecting them to larger social and artistic contexts, while stirring the sensibilities of art novices and art lovers alike. Drawn from the fields of photography, painting, performance, sculpture, installation, video, film, and public art, the works selected range from Andreas Gursky’s stunning, large-scale color photograph Rhine II to Ai Weiwei’s powerful Remembering, an installation of children’s backpacks following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, to Kara Walker’s acclaimed installation, A Subtlety, in Brooklyn’s former Domino Sugar Refinery. Accessible and insightful, The Big Picture presents an indelible portrait of the multifaceted, confounding, often mercurial world of contemporary art in the twenty-first century―a place of wonder and delight that reflects our rapidly shifting global reality. 

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"Matthew Israel’s extraordinary book gets a score of ten out of ten. Mapping contemporary art in ten very focused chapters is a brilliant and audacious way of both showing its widest range and giving us the big picture as we read avidly from one subject to the next."

―John Elderfield, Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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"This illuminating read uses a fascinating list of recent works of contemporary art as the point of departure for a host of issues and concerns vital to our moment. Written with clarity and descriptive panache, Israel’s voice speaks to a mass audience, something not always the hallmark of art writing. If you already love art and artists, this book will remind you why, as the discussion of a singular work branches out from the immediate view of aesthetics to the wide-view of how artists grapple with the inexplicable in our world. If you are not already a devotee then this book should set you on your way."

―Franklin Sirmans, Director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami

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"The Big Picture is a pleasure to read. Israel accomplishes something rare in synthesizing so many aspects of the international contemporary art world while privileging the artworks that serve as its justification, and more importantly, afford its meaning."

―Suzanne Hudson, Associate Professor of Art History and Fine Arts at the University of Southern California and author of Robert Ryman: Used Paint and Painting Now

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