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Death of the Artist: Art World Dissidents and Their Alternative Identities

Death of the Artist: Art World Dissidents and Their Alternative Identities
Nicola McCartney

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There exists a series of contemporary artists who continually defy the traditional role of the artist/author, including Art & Language, Guerrilla Girls, Bob and Roberta Smith, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd and Lucky PDF. In Death of the Artist, Nicola McCartney explores their work and uses previously unpublished interviews to provoke a vital and nuanced discussion about contemporary artistic authorship. How do emerging artists navigate intellectual property or work collectively and share the recognition? How might a pseudonym aid 'artivism'? Most strikingly, she demonstrates how an alternative identity can challenge the art market and is symptomatic of greater cultural and political rebellion. As such, this book exposes the art world's financially incentivised infrastructures, but also examines how they might be reshaped from within. In an age of cuts to arts funding and forced self-promotion, this offers an important analysis of the pressing need for the artistic community to construct new ways to reinvent itself and incite fresh responses to its work.

Author Info

Nicola McCartney is an artist and educator. She is a lecturer in Cultural Studies at Central St Martins, University of the Arts. She was previously an associate research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, and has taught fine art and critical theory at The Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass) at London Metropolitan University. She is also a practising artist and has exhibited throughout London and the UK, received public commissions and undertaken residencies.


`Nicola McCartney is part of a new generation of thinkers about art. Art now is more playful and indiscreet than it has ever been but it also aspires to talk to a political world that is both frightening but also where there is a possibility to reach new audiences. The idea of the artist in this new space is changing. In this book McCartney charts the careers of artists who question the role of the artist and who seek to subvert the notion that art is produced only by artists. McCartney asks who do these artists think they are?'
- Bob and Roberta Smith

'Nicola McCartney gets it: anonymous groups subvert the Western convention of the artist as a lone genius (usually a white male)'
- Guerrilla Girls

`Nicola McCartney offers us a fresh and incisive analysis of moments in modern and contemporary art in which pseudonyms, anonymity, and collective identities are put to use. In doing so, McCartney interrogates the foundations of traditional art history and the art market. Death of the Artist is an important and exciting new contribution to our understanding of art's political efficacy'.
- Joanne Morra, Reader in Art History and Theory, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London

'Very exciting research that... brings together a number of stimulating and critically exciting artistic practices.'
- Monika Pietrzak-Franger, Visiting Professor, the University of Hamburg, Germany

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
Series: International Library of Modern and Contemporary Art

Paperback / softback
ISBN: 9781784534158
Publication Date: 29 May 2018
Number of Pages: 256
Height: 216
Width: 138
Illustrations: 15 black and white illustrations

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