Contemporary Art (Art Essentials)

Natalie Rudd

An essential account of contemporary art that identifies key themes and approaches, providing the reader with a clear understanding of the contexts in which art is being made today.

Since the 1960s, contemporary art has overturned the accepted historical categorizations of what constitutes art, who creates it, and how it is represented and validated. This guide brings the subject up to date, exploring the notion of “contemporary” and what it means in the present as well as how it came about.

Curator and writer Natalie Rudd explains the many aspects of contemporary art, from its backstory to today, including different approaches, media, and recurring themes. Each chapter addresses a core question, explored via an accessible narrative and supported by an analysis of relevant works.

Rudd also looks at the role of the art market and its structures, including art fairs and biennales, and how these have developed since the millennium; the expanded role of the contemporary artist as personality; and how artists are untangling historical and contemporary narrativesto expose inequalities, the ethics of making, and the potential for art to improve the world and effect political change. A reference section offers advice on how to interpret contemporary art and where to access it.

Offering a multinarrative and international perspective, Contemporary Art discusses what motivates artists as they try to make sense of the world and their place within it. This guide promises to reduce your feelingsof intimidation when engaging with contemporary art, offering useful knowledge about diverse artists.


Natalie Rudd


Natalie Rudd is senior curator of the UK's Arts Council Collection. She has published monographs on the artists Peter Blake, Tess Jaray, and Paul de Monchaux, among others, and is the author of The Self-Portrait in the Art Essentials series.