Art and Politics Now

Anthony Downey

A highly illustrated, accessible guide to political art in the twenty-first century, including some of the most daring and ambitious artworks of recent times


Why have so many artists turned to political subject matter in the last decade? Can art not only question but also reinvigorate the social, civic, and political imagination? Art and Politics Now offers a brilliant survey of artists engaged with “the political,” whether in providing commentary, questioning social structures, or actively responding to the world around them.

Eleven thematic chapters address and contextualize a range of highly topical subjects, including globalization, labor, technology, citizenship, war, activism, and information.

Art and Politics Now also highlights the radical changes in the approaches and techniques used by artists to communicate their ideas, from the increase in collaborative, artist-led, and participatory projects to activism and intervention, documentary and archive work. Many high-profile artists are featured, including Chantal Ackerman, Ai Weiwei, Francis Alys, Harun Farocki, Omer Fast, Subodh Gupta, Teresa Margolles, Walid Raad, Raqs Media Collective, Doris Salcedo, BrunoSerralongue, and Santiago Sierra.


A must-have for any artist whose work is inherently rooted in politics.

— Art Desk Magazine


Anthony Downey


Dr. Anthony Downey is Professor of Visual Culture in North Africa and the Middle East at Birmingham City University. Recent publications include Don’t Shrink Me to the Size of a Bullet: The Works of Hiwa K (2017); Future Imperfect: Contemporary Art Practices and Cultural Institutions in the Middle East (2016); and Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East (2015).