The Changing Boundaries and Nature of the Modern Art World - Richard Kalina

The Changing Boundaries and Nature of the Modern Art World

The Art Object and the Object of Art

Richard Kalina

Bloomsbury Publishing

Published: 06-05-2021



Concentrating on the shifting boundaries and definition of art, Richard Kalina offers a panoramic view of the contemporary art scene over the last 30 years. His focus is on the ongoing development of concepts, the transformation of art worlds and the social matrices in which they are created.

Discussing painting in general and abstract painting in particular, his survey takes in photorealism, sculpture and art forms found outside of the modernist tradition. Kalina’s group of artists includes Mel Bochner, Joan Mitchell, Cy Twombly, Franz West, and Alma Thomas who, in their ongoing projects, explicitly or implicitly questioned the aesthetic assumptions of their times.

Merging an examination of animating philosophies and context – political, social, and personal – with a sharply focused look at the works of art themselves, Kalina brings us closer to understanding the social matrices in which art is embedded and responds to bigger questions about the object nature of the work of art in today’s world.


Table of contents

List of Figures
Copyright Credits
1. “Real Dead”
2. “Al Held”
3. “In Another Light”
4. “The Reality of Abstraction”
5. “The Uncomfortable Armchair: Abstraction and Decoration”
6. “Wandering Color: Arbitrariness, Disjunction, and Decoration in American Art of the Sixties”
7. “The Rutgers Group: Garden State Avant-Garde”
8. “Expressing the Abstract”
9. “Gees Bend Modern”
10. Excerpts from Imagining the Present: Context, Content and the Role of the Critic
11. “Ab-Ex Confidential: The Way They Were”
12. “Martín Ramírez: Narratives of Displacement and Memory”
13. “The Dream of Aboriginal Art”
14. “The Guardians of the Avant-Garde”
15. “Robert Morris: The Order of Disorder”
16. “West of Eden”
17. “Harmony & Discord”
18. “The Four Corners of Painting”
19. “Talk/Show: Language and the Resistant Artwork”
20. “Stop, Look and Listen! Mel Bochner Strong Language
21. “Through Color”
22. “Hold Still: Looking at Photo-Realism”
23. “The Here and Then”
24. “Art Between Form and Anti-Form”
25. “Frames and Personas”
26. “Inside Outsider”
27. “The Unusual Suspects: A View of Abstraction”



“For over 30 years, artist and critic Richard Kalina has asked his readers to look beyond artworld rhetoric for authenticity and value in our ever-changing visual landscape. This selection of essays traces key developments and A-list artists, while foregrounding influences and individuals on the margins of accepted artworld practices.” –  René Paul Barilleaux, Head of Curatorial Affairs, McNay Art Museum, USA

“In this series of essays, Richard Kalina takes us on an expansive and insightful expedition through some of the most salient art and art criticism of the post-war years. In doing so, he articulates coherent and meaningful analyses of some of Modernism’s (and post-Modernism’s) most persistently elusive concepts.” –  Marshall N. Price, Chief Curator and Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, USA


The author

Richard Kalina is Professor of Art at Fordham University, USA. He is the Editor of Imagining the Present: Context, Content, and the Role of the Critic (2006) and a Contributing Editor to the monthly magazine Art in America.