Book Review: Contemporary Arts

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Book Review: Contemporary Arts


The aim of this piece of study is to talk about the book “Since 45” by Katy Siegel. This book highlights a new interpretive history of the American Art World, as transformed after the World War II. The motive here is to identify and discuss all the important aspects that are presented in this book. The study in the field of contemporary art has challenged numerous art historians. In a discipline that is initially based on chronological or cultural categories, such as Pre-Columbian art, the scholars have been paused because of the chronological boundaries that were ill-defined in the contemporary period. Therefore, contemporary art's functional definition has been defined since 1945. However, each passing year has made the time frame increasingly problematic. Moreover, another issue that the art historians increasingly face in the context of contemporary art is the lack of critical or historical distance. Hence, this piece of study aims to describe all these aspects as discussed in the book “Since 45: America and the making of contemporary art”, by Katy Siegel.


American art is somewhat different than others. Katy Siegel pointed it out in her book “Since 45” that provides a clear insight of new interpretive history of American art after the World War II. Moreover, American artists do not normally share the obsession of their European counterparts with that of a self limiting and radical gesture. The art of American artists is said to be more concerned with success rather than with scandal, and also with apocalypse out in the world. Siegel further argues in her book that in order to understand the history of American art, it would not be enough to treat in the context of European import going wild. Moreover, in order to understand it, American art needs to be studied in light of America's cultural and social history. Thus, Katy Siegel has just done this in her book.


Since 45 is an outstanding book that is structured in five digressive but long chapters. Each chapter of the book intends to pick up a thread related to commonality in American artv and follows the discussion of it from the initial moments of post war to the present conditions. Moreover, 1945 is used for dual functioning in this narrative of Katy Siegel. First of all, the date 1945 is the one when there was a movement from Paris to New York in the center of the art world. Secondly, 1945 is also the year of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This also represents the moment of American ascendency becoming inextricably linked with the threat faced as a result of nuclear war.

History of Modern American Art

For many years, students of modern American art have too readily taken for granted the artist's isolation from Europe and have emphasized the existence of compelling native traditions of a vernacular character, in opposition to long-established visual traditions and the cultivated European sense of art. The issue is complex and a balanced view must be sought. It should take into account the special virtues of American art—its particular qualities ...
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