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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Beyond Resemblance

Abstract Art in the Age of Global Conceptualism

Art today may be global, Robert Linsley argues in this book, but it is the same everywhere you go: full of intentional meaning, statements, and even branded images that insist on a particular message. That is to say, art everywhere is conceptual. In this first critique of global conceptual art, Linsley looks back at an older genre, abstract art, to reclaim some of its lost value—not as an empty commodity to be traded by the wealthy but as a way for us to find perspective amid chaos.
            Linsley shows how abstraction is a response to the world we live in, one that deliberately avoids moralizing, explanation, or overt polemic. He champions the work of lesser-known but important artists from India, China, and Latin and Central America, such as Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Ding Yi and Gunther Gerzso as well as the more familiar names from history, such as Lucio Fontana, Frank Stella and Gerhard Richter, treating their work with equal seriousness. He also looks toward abstract art’s future, showing that it still has plenty of life and purpose as a genre that helps us find a clear space to make sense of the times we live in. Ultimately, Linsley demonstrates the unique, rich, and full experience that abstract art can give us. Richly illustrated, this book is a must-read for art historians and art lovers.

224 pages | 60 color plates | 6 x 8 1/4 | © 2016

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Beyond Resemblance is a working-artist’s insightful exploration of the relevance, and future, of abstract art that provides more questions than answers in order to promote thought and discourse. It is recommended for academic libraries at universities or colleges with studio art programs.”

ARLIS/NA Reviews

“At times conversational, at times combative, often unpredictable, and never dull, this book is a highly original and timely discussion of a subject that, thankfully, won’t quite go away.”

David Batchelor

“Art history is made by artists, and it might be better —more productively controversial—if it were more often written by them, too. Robert Linsley, an estimable abstract painter, offers a maker’s perspective on the past, present, and future of abstraction. ‘A modern truth is a moving truth,’ Linsley writes, and he does his best to catch art’s ever-changing reality on the fly. His perception that ‘a provincial comedy lies at the heart of the modern’ makes him our most challenging guide to the place of abstraction in today’s global context.”

Barry Schwabsky, author of "The Perpetual Guest: Art in the Unfinished Present"

“Linsley has produced a refreshingly distinctive, insightful, and deeply knowledgeable book. As both an innovative artist and an incisive critical writer, he speaks as an insider about the contemporary state of the fine arts, especially as it bears on the ‘abstract’ end of the range of current practices. Linsley writes with the clarity of a classic figure like David Sylvester and the verve and quirkiness of an independent voice like Dave Hickey. His text ought to stimulate a significant amount of discussion in the art world; and if it doesn’t, then shame on the art world.”

Richard A. Shiff, Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art, University of Texas at Austin

Table of Contents

Art Historical Preliminary: Reduction to the Concept
1. A General Effect
2. Abstraction and the World: A Provincial Comedy
3. The Decay of Irony, Or, the Future of a Negation
4. Before Calligraphy
5. A Shaped Illusion
6. Drawing In Space
7. From Relief to Installation
8. Book of Creation: The Literariness of Abstraction
9. Abstraction and Nature

Photo Acknowledgements

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