ArtSpeak: A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1945 to the Present (Paperback)

ArtSpeak: A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1945 to the Present By Robert Atkins Cover Image


The leading lexicon of contemporary art returns in an expanded, full-color third edition.

An indispensable guide for art-world neophytes and seasoned professionals alike, the best-selling ArtSpeak returns in a revised and expanded third edition, illustrated in full color. Nearly 150 alphabetical entries—30 of them new to this edition—explain the who, what, where, and when of postwar and contemporary art. These concise mini-essays on the key terms of the art world are written with wit and common sense by veteran critic Robert Atkins.

More than eighty images, most in color, illustrate key works of the art movements discussed, making ArtSpeak a visual reference, as well as a textual one. A timeline traces world and art-world events from 1945 to the present day, and a single-page ArtChart provides a handy overview of the major art movements in that period.

About the Author

Robert Atkins, an art historian and writer, is a frequent contributor to Art in America and a former staff columnist for the Village Voice. Atkins is an authority on digital art, queer art and culture, and Chinese contemporary art. He is a pioneering online media producer and a founding member of Visual AIDS, creators of Day With(out) Art and the Red Ribbon. His other books include ArtSpoke and Censoring Culture.

Praise For…

In this important update of ArtSpeak, Atkins again offers reliable, succinct definitions of some 150 art terms, ideas, and movements, outlined in an easy-to-read, uniform format that gives the who, when, where, and what. Summing Up: Highly recommended.


In the end, ArtSpeak is informative and readable, a friendly invitation to better understand the language of contemporary art. Over its history, the book has transmuted from more or less a dictionary of terms into a relatively comprehensive survey of twenty-five years of art. Now, don’t you want clearer understanding of movement Mono-ha?

— Rain Taxi Review of Books

The writing is simple, direct, nonjudgmental, and succinct. An essential update.

— Library Journal starred review

[ArtSpeak is] where you go to find out, quickly and clearly, what Semiotics means... It offers handy short takes on terms like commodification and formalism, along with the who, when, where, and sometimes why of Neo Dada, Neo-Expressionism, Neo-Geo, New Image, the New Leipzig school, New media, New Realism, New Wave, Nouveau Réalisme, Socialist Realism, Social Realism, Social Practice, Space Art, and Spatialism, to name some more of the 146 categories in the book. It also explains what separates Pathetic Art from kitsch, and how Abject Expressionism differs from Abstract Expressionism.

— ARTnews

From appropriation to manipulated photography to trans-avant garde, this handbook defines all the terms needed to sound au courant in the art world.

— Village Voice
Product Details
ISBN: 9780789211514
ISBN-10: 0789211513
Publisher: Abbeville Press
Publication Date: November 26th, 2013
Pages: 280
Language: English