Daniel Birnbaum, Sven-Olov Wallenstein
|Jörg HeiserAll of a Sudden
Things that Matter in Contemporary Art
Since the mid-nineties, contemporary art has been booming like never before. There is more of everything – more artists, more collectors, more galleries, more art fairs, more museums, more biennials, more interest, more industry, more pop, more hype. Some art professionals feel prompted by all this to reach for the revolvers of cultural pessimism: Mass Stupidity Is Killing Great Art! Others—often the same people a short while later—defect with all the greater abandon to the alleged enemy. The entrenched battle between defenders of art’s autonomy and champions of its merging with entertainment culture continues. There is more of everything, with one exception: criteria. Criteria with which the art of the moment can be understood, judged, praised and, if need be, damned—without getting bogged down in this eternal trench warfare.
In All of a Sudden. Things that Matter in Contemporary Art, Jörg Heiser provides a sharp summary of contemporary art since Marcel Duchamp. Using many artworks as example, the author shows that art is more than just a randomly chosen cultural field of activity in which to acquire a little specialist knowledge to show off with. “When it’s good,” he claims, “art hits where it hurts, striking at the heart of an ossified status quo by which it itself was brought forth. Perhaps this is something art since Modernism has in common with slapstick. Instead of just aiming to shock and outrage, it shows authority losing its grip. Instead of inflating itself, it deflates the pompous in the name of art.”
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung finds the book “astonishingly enlightening.” The Frankfurter Rundschau praises Heiser for finally opening the eyes of his readers—something many of his colleagues have been unable to do.
Jörg Heiser (*1968) lives in Berlin. He is co-editor of frieze magazine, writes for the national daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, and is a frequent contributor to art catalogues and publications. He curated the exhibitions “Romantic Conceptualism” (2007, Kunsthalle Nürnberg, BAWAG Foundation Vienna) and “Funky Lessons” (2004/2005, BüroFriedrich Berlin, BAWAG Foundation Vienna).
Design by Surface, Frankfurt am Main/Berlin