by Matthew Israel
How do we understand contemporary art today? Where do we even start? Where do we end up? Art historian Matthew Israel responds to these questions by exploring ten of today’s most exciting contemporary artworks created by ten artists over a span of fifteen extraordinary years. With a clear eye for the captivating detail and a deep appreciation for the panoramic view, Israel reveals the fascinating stories behind each of the artworks, connecting them to larger social and artistic contexts, while stirring the sensibilities of art novices and art lovers alike. Drawn from the fields of photography, painting, performance, sculpture, installation, video, film, and public art, the works selected range from Andreas Gursky’s stunning, large-scale color photograph Rhine II to Ai Weiwei’s powerful Remembering, an installation of children’s backpacks following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, to Kara Walker’s acclaimed installation, A Subtlety, in Brooklyn’s former Domino Sugar Refinery. Accessible and insightful, The Big Picture presents an indelible portrait of the multifaceted, confounding, often mercurial world of contemporary art in the twenty-first century―a place of wonder and delight that reflects our rapidly shifting global reality.