A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1945 to the Present

Release Date
Format Paperback 288 pages 6 x 9 inches 103 illustrations, most in full color
Category Art History
ISBN-13 978-0-78921-151-4 SKU 1042521
Other Formats Hardcover / eBook

A revised and expanded third edition of the leading lexicon of contemporary art, now illustrated in full color throughout.

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of its original publication, the best-selling ArtSpeak returns in a fully redesigned third edition, featuring nearly 150 alphabetical entries—30 of them entirely new, and others updated—that explain the who, when, where, and what of postwar and contemporary art, from Abstract Expressionism to zeitgeist. These concise essays on key artistic terms are written with wit and common sense by veteran art historian and critic Robert Atkins, who also provides a year-by-year timeline of world and art-world events from 1945 to the present. Some 80 images, most in full color, illustrate iconic works of the movements discussed, making ArtSpeak a visual as well as a textual reference.

The new terms in this edition of ArtSpeak include not only recent movements, such as the Leipzig School and San Francisco’s Mission School, but also past movements that have attained a new critical prominence, such as Japan’s Mono-ha group and Brazilian Neoconcretism. Also discussed are the growing constellation of new media and intermedia practices, the social and economic structures of the art world, and the theoretical concepts that interest artists and critics today. Particular attention is given to the key terms of contemporary Chinese art—from Rustic Realism to Political Pop—reflecting China’s growing importance on the global scene.

Long established as an indispensable reference for art-world neophytes and seasoned professionals alike, ArtSpeak will continue to attract a broad and appreciative audience in this attractive new edition.


The writing is simple, direct, nonjudgmental, and succinct. An essential update. -- Library Journal

[ArtSpeak is] where you go to find out, quickly and clearly, what Semiotics means... It offers handy short takes on terms like commodification and formalism, along with the who, when, where, and sometimes why of Neo Dada, Neo-Expressionism, Neo-Geo, New Image, the New Leipzig school, New media, New Realism, New Wave, Nouveau Réalisme, Socialist Realism, Social Realism, Social Practice, Space Art, and Spatialism, to name some more of the 146 categories in the book. It also explains what separates Pathetic Art from kitsch, and how Abject Expressionism differs from Abstract Expressionism. -- ARTnews

In the end, ArtSpeak is informative and readable, a friendly invitation to better understand the language of contemporary art. Over its history, the book has transmuted from more or less a dictionary of terms into a relatively comprehensive survey of twenty-five years of art. Now, don’t you want clearer understanding of movement Mono-ha? -- Rain Taxi Review of Books

In this important update of ArtSpeak, Atkins again offers reliable, succinct definitions of some 150 art terms, ideas, and movements, outlined in an easy-to-read, uniform format that gives the who, when, where, and what. Summing Up: Highly recommended -- CHOICE