It is a peculiar moment for art, as it becomes both increasingly rarefied and associated with elite lifestyle culture, while simultaneously ubiquitous, with the boom of "creative" industries and the proliferation of new technologies for making art. In these important essays, Ben Davis covers everything from Instagram to artificial intelligence, eco-art to cultural appropriation. Critical, insightful, and hopeful even in the face of the apocalyptic, this is a must read for those looking to understand the current art world, as well as the role of the artist in the world today.
Praise for 9.5 Theses on Art and Class:
"Just when it seemed that contemporary art writing and the subject of real-life politics had permanently parted ways, along comes the young New York critic Ben Davis with a book that brings them together. No cheerleading here, no swoony prosody, no easy kiss-offs; just smart, ardent, illusion-puncturing observation and analysis on the intersection of art, commerce, and the elephant in the art-fair VIP lounge class. None of this would matter much if he didn 't tell us why we should care, but he does. Under all his excoriations lies a faith in art as an agent of transformation toward a post-neoliberal, post-greed society that could be, should be."
Holland Cotter, art critic, New York Times
"Like watching an expert pole-vaulter ply his craft, witnessing this critic reach for first principles in this day and age constitutes its own reward... On 9.5 Theses, the verdict is crystal: This is one helluva pamphlet."
Christian Viveros-Faune, The Village Voice
"...a riveting manifesto..."
New York Magazine
"By reminding artists where they really stand, Davis hopes, in the end, to put them on firmer footing, both politically and creatively."
Dushko Petrovich, BOOKFORUM
"Davis is an intellectually clearheaded critic dishing out some tough truths, often backed up with statistics, to the rarefied 'art world.' . . . The book reframes the production and sale of art in tough terms, which is why the collection 's centerpiece, 9.5 Theses on Art and Class, should be required reading for art professionals. In this first book, Davis proves himself a critic to be reckoned with."
"Written beautifully and for all of us... this book has a high purpose that many attempt and few fulfill. It is a compelling and convincing reminder of why art matters and what's ultimately at stake."
Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"9.5 Theses on Art and Class is the first book I 've read by an art critic that spoke to the world I lived and worked in as an artist. Incisive, irreverent, and intellectually fearless. A truth-bomb of a book."
Molly Crabapple, artist