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This article looks at influential survey texts on world art history since c. 1980, and considers how they have dealt with the art nearest to them in time. I examine the terminology used, and problems of classification, periodization, and history writing at large. In order to describe how these texts struggle with the terms contemporary and postmodern, I focus on their treatment of conceptual art and two artists: Joseph Beuys and Cindy Sherman. The symbolic and economic consolidation of contemporary art during the last decade or so prompts me to establish a broader frame of understanding, linking it to constructions of the contemporary in the nineteenth century and to the idea of co-existing temporalities for art.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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