The best books on art and globalization

David Joselit Author Of Heritage and Debt: Art in Globalization
By David Joselit

The Books I Picked & Why

Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria

By Chika Okeke-Agulu

Book cover of Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria

Why this book?

This is the best account I know of the double bind that artists subjected to settler forms of colonialism have had to endure. Taking Nigerian modern art as his case study, this eminent Africanist art historian shows how, on the one hand, colonial officials attempted to abolish the indigenous artistic heritage as "savage," or "primitive," while simultaneously blocking African artists from a European art education. To become modern required a negotiation between these dual limitations and ended up producing something very different from Western modernism.


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Van Gogh on Demand: China and the Readymade

By Winnie Won Yin Wong

Book cover of Van Gogh on Demand: China and the Readymade

Why this book?

This engaging book looks at globalization and art from a perspective well beyond the conventional art world. Wong analyzes the work of artists in the Chinese "urban village" of Dafen where some five million paintings are produced a year–copies of Western masterpieces. Rather than viewing this industry condescendingly, Wong takes Dafen as a laboratory for understanding what qualities make an artist, and how creativity exists even in contexts of reproduction and replication. 


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Making Art Global (Part 1): The Third Havana Biennial 1989, Exhibition Histories Vol. 2

By Rachel Weiss, Luis Camnitzer, Coco Fusco, Geeta Kapur, Charles Esche

Book cover of Making Art Global (Part 1): The Third Havana Biennial 1989, Exhibition Histories Vol. 2

Why this book?

This book is part of a series that extensively documents watershed modern and contemporary exhibitions. The Havana Biennial of 1989 was especially important because it developed what has been called South-South connections in the exhibition of contemporary artin other words, connections between different parts of the Global South or non-West that are not routed through European or North American art capitals. This was possible because, during the Cold War, Cuba maintained extensive cultural networks throughout the so-called Third World


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Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War

By Hito Steyerl

Book cover of Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War

Why this book?

Hito Steyerl is one of the most prominent artists and media theorists in the world. Her essays draw unexpected and always stimulating connections between media technologies, surveillance, war, and political power. They are short, concise, and a pleasure to read, but they always engage with big ideas around the ethical and social challenges of a world made global through the framework of the Internet and digital communication more broadly.


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Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method

By Joan Kee

Book cover of Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method

Why this book?

Not only is this book an authoritative account of the Tansaekhwa movement in Koreaa group of abstract painters who gained great acclaim in recent yearsbut it establishes a model of how regional art worlds intersect with global networks. Kee accomplishes this by charting the hierarchical relation between Japan and Korea within Southeast Asia, whose differences were largely erased when "Asian" art was exhibited in Europe. In other words, regional rivalries and specificities are often subsumed into broader regional identities when artworks begin to circulate globally.


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