Theories about the Radicality of Contemporary Art, or, what happens when Art History forgets Marxism


“Contemporary art” is often identified with radicality, a belief based on the perceived as indisputable contemporary reality of alternative multiple narratives, which oppose the authoritarianism of –the unique, western, male-dominated, colonial, etc.– modernity. These narratives are built on the ground of post-Marxist approaches and the rejection of Marxist analysis which, in this context, is interpreted as an expression of a holistic, mechanistic approach that excludes the narratives and experiences of the contemporary subjectivities. In this article, I examine the contradictions that sustain the ideology of “contemporary art”, and interpret, with reference to the history of its institutional formation, its role in the eventual confirmation of capitalism as the indisputable condition within which radical artistic theories and practices of contemporary art are developed.

* Louisa Avgita is Assistant Professor in Art History, Faculty of Arts – School of Visual and Applied Arts, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.