Although contemporary art may sometimes shock us, more alarming are recent attempts to regulate its display. Drawing upon extensive interviews, a broad sampling of media accounts, legal documents and his own observations of important events, sociologist Steven Dubin surveys the recent trend in censorship of the visual arts, photography and film, as well as artistic upstarts such as video and performance art. He examines the dual meaning of arresting images--both the nature of art work which disarms its viewers and the social reaction to it. Arresting Images examines the battles which erupt when artists address such controversial issues as racial polarization, AIDS, gay-bashing and sexual inequality in their work.
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(229mm x 152mm x 24mm)
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US Kirkus Review »
Dubin (Sociology/SUNY at Purchase) offers an involving and evenhanded analysis of the ongoing confrontation between taboo-breaking artists and traditionalists bent on maintaining the status quo. The author skillfully organizes his wide-ranging material into such categories as sexual content in art, and race, religion, and patriotism as themes of the postmodernist cultural milieu. In the process, he recaps the furor raised by such well-publicized works as David K. Nelson's inflammatory portrait of late Chicago mayor Harold Washington in women's underwear, Robert Mapplethorpe's homoerotic photographs, and Andres Serrano's "blasphemous" Piss Christ. Dubin provides background details that place these controversies in historical context, tracing the careers of such homosexual artists as Marsden Hartley and Charles Demuth, for example. The author also delves into just why Marcel Duchamp's dictum - that whatever an artist produces is art - fails to convince conservative critics, especially when one such "artist," Karen Finley, makes her artistic/political statements by slathering her body with chocolate, cinnamon candies, and alfalfa sprouts. And to his credit, Dubin conveys both the pros and the cons concerning the use of taxpayers' money to fund the National Endowment for the Arts. Accessible and paced with page-turning immediacy - an excellent overview of what happens when the avant-garde art world meets the conservative right. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Steven C. Dubin
Steven C. Dubin is Associate Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York, Purchase, where he directs the Social Sciences and the Arts program. He is the author of Bureaucratizing the Muse: Public Funds and the Cultural Worker.