Adrian Favell: Before and After Superflat: A Short History of Japanese Contemporary Art, 1990-2011 (2012)

21 November 2017, dusan

“Any discussion of Japanese contemporary art inevitably leads to the pop-culture fantasies of Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara and the other artists of the Superflat movement. But Japan as a whole has changed dramatically after stumbling through a series of economic, social and ecological crises since the collapse of its ‘bubble’ economy in the early 1990s. How did Murakami, Nara and Superflat become the dominant artistic vision of the Japan of today? What lies behind their imagery of a childish and decadent society unable to face up to reality? Written by a sociologist with an eye for sharp observation and clear reportage, Before and After Superflat offers the first comprehensive history in English of the Japanese art world from 1990 up to the tsunami of March 2011, and its struggle to find a voice amidst Japan’s economic decline and China’s economic ascent.”

Publisher Blue Kingfisher, Hong Kong, 2012
ISBN 9789881506412, 9881506417
246 pages
via author

Reviews: Janet Koplos (Art in America, 2012), Ashley Rawlings (Art Space Tokyo, 2012), David Cozy (Japan Times, 2012), Modern Art Asia (2012).



Howard S. Becker: Art Worlds (1982)

16 February 2014, dusan

This classic sociological examination of art as collective action explores the cooperative network of suppliers, performers, dealers, critics, and consumers who—along with the artist—”produce” a work of art. Howard S. Becker looks at the conventions essential to this operation and, prospectively, at the extent to which art is shaped by this collective activity. He draws examples from music, drama, dance, literature, film, and the visual arts.

“Maybe the years I spent playing the piano in taverns in Chicago and elsewhere led me to believe that the people who did that mundane work were as important to an understanding of art as the better-known players who produced the recognized classics of jazz. Growing up [..] may have led me to think that the craftsman who help make art works areas important as the people who conceive them. My rebellious temperament may be the cause of a congenital antielitism. Learning the ‘Chicago tradition’ of sociology from Everett C. Hughes and Herbert Blumer surely led to a skepticism about conventional definitions of the objects of sociological study.” (from Preface)

Publisher University of California Press, 1982
ISBN 0520043863, 9780520043862
392 pages
via drebubbles

Review: Michael S. Kimmel (American Journal of Sociology, 1983)


PDF (44 MB, updated to OCR’d version on 2014-2-17 via Marcell Mars)

Pierre Bourdieu: Photography: A Middle-brow Art (1965/1990)

7 October 2012, dusan

The everyday practice of photography by millions of amateur photographers – the family snapshots, the holiday prints, the wedding portraits – may seem to be a spontaneous and highly personal activity. But Bourdieu and his associates show that few cultural activities are more structured and systematic than the social uses of this ordinary art.

This perceptive and wide-ranging analysis of the practice of photography brings out the logic implicit in this cultural field. The norms which define the occasions and the objects of photography serve to display the socially differentiated functions of, and attitudes towards, the photographic image and act. For some social groups, photography is primarily a means of preserving the present and reproducing the euphoric moments of collective celebration, whereas for other groups it is the occasion of an aesthetic judgement, in which photos are endowed with the dignity of works of art.

With Luc Boltanski, Robert Castel, Jean-Claude Chamboredon, and Dominique Schnapper
First published in French as Un art moyen by Les Editions de Minuit, 1965
Translated by Shaun Whiteside
Publisher Polity Press, in association with Blackwell Publishers, 1990
ISBN 0745605230, 0745617158
218 pages

google books

PDF (no OCR)