Contemporary art is often preoccupied with time, or acts in which the past is recovered. Through specific case studies of artists who strategically work with historical moments, this book examines how art from the last two decades has sought to mobilize these particular histories, and to what effect, against the backdrop of Modernism. Drawing on the art theory of Rosalind Krauss and the philosophies of Paul Ricoeur, Gerhard Richter, and Pierre Nora, Retroactivity and Contemporary Art interprets those works that foreground some aspect of retroactivity - whether re-enacting, commemorating, or re-imagining - as key artistic strategies. This book is striking philosophical reflection on time within art and art within time, and an indispensable read for those attempting to understand the artistic significance of history, materiality, and memory.
Moving seamlessly between philosophies of time and history, modernist aesthetics and art criticism, and semiotics, via close readings of a wide range of practices from the 19th century to the present day, the book will appeal to anyone with an interest in the temporality of artworks in their modern and contemporary guises. * Kamini Vellodi, Lecturer in Contemporary Art Theory and Practice, University of Edinburgh, UK * Retroactivity and Contemporary Art makes a significant contribution to a vibrantly expanding field of research currently inspiring artists, curators and theorists to engage with challenging and beguiling questions of time and 'temporalities', history and histories. Here, a long list of artists, working in diverse media (including Toni Morrison, Jeremy Deller, Christian Boltanski, Gerhard Richter, Thomas Demand, Omer Fast, Walker Evans, Cornelia Parker, Robert Smithson and Steven Spielberg) are ably accommodated by Staff and welcomed to share an investigation into the strangely poignant potential of 'retroactivity'. Maintaining a challenging tone of engaged critique, while at all times keeping his argument mobile and accessible, Craig Staff's generous approach cultivates new space for thought as a broad readership is invited to enter this profound and compelling field of contemporary debate. This is a highly engaging and valuable resource for contemporary artists, curators, theorists, and students of both art and history. * Paul O'Kane, Lecturer in Critical Studies, Central St Martins, University of Arts, London, UK *