Reading list

Art and Aesthetics: Verso Student Reading

Our art and aesthetics reading for the academic year ahead.

Verso Books28 August 2022

Art and Aesthetics: Verso Student Reading

Make your Art and Aesthetics bookshelf as exciting as ours, with books from James Bridle, John Berger, Hito Steyerl, Jacques Rancière, Frederic Jameson, and more.

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See all our recommended Student Reading here.

Artificial Hells
The award-winning, highly acclaimed Artificial Hells is the first historical and theoretical overview of socially engaged participatory art, known in the US as “social practice.” In recent decades,...
Aesthetics and Politics
No other country and no other period has produced a tradition of major aesthetic debate to compare with that which unfolded in German culture from the 1930s to the 1950s. In Aesthetics and Politics...
Bad New Days
Bad New Days examines the evolution of art and criticism in Western Europe and North America over the last twenty-five years, exploring their dynamic relation to the general condition of emergency ...
Atlas of Emotion
Atlas of Emotion is a highly original endeavour to map a cultural history of spatio-visual arts. In an evocative montage of words and pictures, emphasises that “sight” and “site” but also “motion” ...
The Choreography of Everyday Life
In this sparkling, innovative, fully-illustrated work, world-renowned choreographer Annie-B Parson translates the components of dance—time, proximity, space, motion and tone— into text. As we follo...
The Emancipated Spectator
The theorists of art and film commonly depict the modern audience as aesthetically and politically passive. In response, both artists and thinkers have sought to transform the spectator into an act...
All That Is Solid Melts into Air
All That Is Solid Melts into Air is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest books on modernity. A kaleidoscopic journey into the experience of modernization, it captures the dizzying social changes...
Paperback
Glitch Feminism
The divide between the digital and the real world no longer exists: we are connected all the time. How do we find out who we are within this digital era? Where do we create the space to explore our...
New Dark Age
From the highly acclaimed author of WAYS OF BEING. We live in times of increasing inscrutability. Our news feeds are filled with unverified, unverifiable speculation, much of it automatically gener...
Potential History
In this theoretical tour-de-force, renowned scholar Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences.Azoulay ...
The Social Photo
With the rise of the smart phone and social media, cameras have become ubiquitous, infiltrating nearly every aspect of social life. The glowing camera screen is the lens by which many of us apprehe...
Paperback
Duty Free Art
In Duty Free Art, filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl wonders how we can appreciate, or even make art, in the present age. What can we do when arms manufacturers sponsor museums, and some of the worl...
In the Mind But Not From There
In the Mind, But Not From There: Real Abstraction and Contemporary Art considers how the Marxian concept of Real Abstraction--originally developed by Alfred Sohn Rethel, and recently updated by Al...
Postmodernism
In his most wide-ranging and accessible work, Fredric Jameson argues that postmodernism is the cultural response to the latest systemic change in world capitalism. He seeks here to crystallize a de...
Paperback
Allegory and Ideology
Works do not have meanings, they soak up meanings: a work is a machine for libidinal investments (including the political kind). It is a process that sorts incommensurabilities and registers contra...
The Ancients and the Postmoderns
High modernism is now as far from us as antiquity was for the Renaissance. Such is the premise of Fredric Jameson’s major new work in which modernist works, this time in painting (Rubens) and music...
The Antinomies of Realism
The Antinomies of Realism is a history of the nineteenth-century realist novel and its legacy told without a glimmer of nostalgia for artistic achievements that the movement of history makes it imp...
The Future of the Image
In The Future of the Image, Jacques Rancière develops a fascinating new concept of the image in contemporary art, showing how art and politics have always been intrinsically intertwined. He argues ...
Modern Times
In this book Jacques Rancière radicalises his critique of modernism and its postmodern appendix. He contrasts their unilinear and exclusive time with the interweaving of temporalities at play in mo...
The Intervals of Cinema

The Intervals of Cinema

The cinema, like language, can be said to exist as a system of differences. In his latest book the acclaimed philosopher Jacques Rancière relates cinema to literature and theatre. With literature, ...
Aisthesis

Aisthesis

The definitive statement on aesthetics and the history of modernism from one of France's most renowned philosophers. Composed of a series of scenes that defined modernism, Aisthesis takes its reade...
Savage Messiah

Savage Messiah

Savage Messiah collects the entire set of Laura Grace Ford’s fanzine to date. Part graphic novel, part artwork, the book is both an angry polemic against the marginalization of the city’s working c...
The Postconceptual Condition
If, as Walter Benjamin claimed, “it is the function of artistic form…to make historical content into a philosophical truth” then it is the function of criticism to recover and to complete that trut...
In the Flow
In the early 20th century, art and its institutions came under critique from a new democratic and egalitarian spirit. In an age of secularism and materialism, artworks would be understood as merely...
Supercommunity
“I am the supercommunity, and you are only starting to recognize me. I grew out of something that used to be humanity. Some have compared me to angry crowds in public squares; others compare me to ...
Revolutionary Time and the Avant-Garde
Since the decidedly bleak beginning of the twenty-first century, art practice has become increasingly politicized. Yet few have put forward a sustained defence of this development. Revolutionary ...
The Perpetual Guest
The idea of contemporary art sometimes allows us to pretend we have made a clean break with the past. In The Perpetual Guest, poet and critic Barry Schwabsky demonstrates that any robust understand...
Capital Is Dead
In this radical and visionary new book, McKenzie Wark argues that the all-pervasive presence of data in our networked society has given rise to a new mode of production, one not ruled over by capit...
What Comes After Farce?
If farce follows tragedy, what follows farce? Where does the double predicament of a post-truth and post-shame politics leave artists and critics on the left? How to demystify a hegemonic order tha...
Sensoria
As we face the compounded crises of late capitalism, environmental catastrophe and technological transformation, who are the thinkers and the ideas who will allow us to understand the world we live...
Capitalism and the Camera
Photography was invented between the publication of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and Karl Marx and Frederick Engels’s The Communist Manifesto. Taking the intertwined development of capitalism...
Culture Strike
In an age of protest, culture and museums have come under fire. Protests of museum funding (for example, the Metropolitan Museum accepting Sackler family money) and boards (for example, the Whitney...
Monumental Lies
The past is weaponised in culture wars and cynically edited by those who wish to impose their ideology upon the physical spaces around us. Holocaust deniers use details of the ruins of the gas cha...
Crisis as Form
Criticism of contemporary art is split by an opposition between activism and the critical function of form. Yet the deeper, more subterranean terms of art-judgment are largely neglected on both sid...
Portraits
John Berger, one of the world’s most celebrated storytellers and writers on art, tells a personal history of art from the prehistoric paintings of the Chauvet caves to 21st century conceptual artis...
Landscapes
In this brilliant collection of diverse works—essays, short stories, poems, translations—which spans a lifetime’s engagement with art, John Berger reveals how he came to his own unique way of see...
Paperback
Investigative Aesthetics
Today, artists are engaged in investigation. They probe corruption, state violence, environmental destruction and repressive technologies. At the same time, fields not usually associated with aesth...
Civil Imagination

Civil Imagination

The photograph is not just an image but an event, one in the longer sequence of a photographic moment. Challenging given definitions of photography and of the political, Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls...
Heretical Aesthetics
One of Europe's most mythologized Marxist intellectuals of the 20th century, Pier Paolo Pasolini was not only a poet, filmmaker, novelist, and political martyr. He was also a keen critic of painti...
Sensoria
As we face the compounded crises of late capitalism, environmental catastrophe and technological transformation, who are the thinkers and the ideas who will allow us to understand the world we live...
What Comes After Farce?
If farce follows tragedy, what follows farce? Where does the double predicament of a post-truth and post-shame politics leave artists and critics on the left? How to demystify a hegemonic order tha...
Capital Is Dead
In this radical and visionary new book, McKenzie Wark argues that the all-pervasive presence of data in our networked society has given rise to a new mode of production, one not ruled over by capit...
Potential History
In this theoretical tour-de-force, renowned scholar Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences.Azoulay ...
New Dark Age
From the highly acclaimed author of WAYS OF BEING. We live in times of increasing inscrutability. Our news feeds are filled with unverified, unverifiable speculation, much of it automatically gener...
The Social Photo
With the rise of the smart phone and social media, cameras have become ubiquitous, infiltrating nearly every aspect of social life. The glowing camera screen is the lens by which many of us apprehe...
Paperback
In the Mind But Not From There
In the Mind, But Not From There: Real Abstraction and Contemporary Art considers how the Marxian concept of Real Abstraction--originally developed by Alfred Sohn Rethel, and recently updated by Al...
Duty Free Art
In Duty Free Art, filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl wonders how we can appreciate, or even make art, in the present age. What can we do when arms manufacturers sponsor museums, and some of the worl...
Landscapes
In this brilliant collection of diverse works—essays, short stories, poems, translations—which spans a lifetime’s engagement with art, John Berger reveals how he came to his own unique way of see...
Paperback
Postmodernism
In his most wide-ranging and accessible work, Fredric Jameson argues that postmodernism is the cultural response to the latest systemic change in world capitalism. He seeks here to crystallize a de...
Paperback
The Future of the Image
In The Future of the Image, Jacques Rancière develops a fascinating new concept of the image in contemporary art, showing how art and politics have always been intrinsically intertwined. He argues ...
Aesthetics and Politics
No other country and no other period has produced a tradition of major aesthetic debate to compare with that which unfolded in German culture from the 1930s to the 1950s. In Aesthetics and Politics...
Savage Messiah

Savage Messiah

Savage Messiah collects the entire set of Laura Grace Ford’s fanzine to date. Part graphic novel, part artwork, the book is both an angry polemic against the marginalization of the city’s working c...
Atlas of Emotion
Atlas of Emotion is a highly original endeavour to map a cultural history of spatio-visual arts. In an evocative montage of words and pictures, emphasises that “sight” and “site” but also “motion” ...
Aisthesis

Aisthesis

The definitive statement on aesthetics and the history of modernism from one of France's most renowned philosophers. Composed of a series of scenes that defined modernism, Aisthesis takes its reade...
The Postconceptual Condition
If, as Walter Benjamin claimed, “it is the function of artistic form…to make historical content into a philosophical truth” then it is the function of criticism to recover and to complete that trut...
Bad New Days
Bad New Days examines the evolution of art and criticism in Western Europe and North America over the last twenty-five years, exploring their dynamic relation to the general condition of emergency ...
In the Flow
In the early 20th century, art and its institutions came under critique from a new democratic and egalitarian spirit. In an age of secularism and materialism, artworks would be understood as merely...
Supercommunity
“I am the supercommunity, and you are only starting to recognize me. I grew out of something that used to be humanity. Some have compared me to angry crowds in public squares; others compare me to ...
Revolutionary Time and the Avant-Garde
Since the decidedly bleak beginning of the twenty-first century, art practice has become increasingly politicized. Yet few have put forward a sustained defence of this development. Revolutionary ...
The Emancipated Spectator
The theorists of art and film commonly depict the modern audience as aesthetically and politically passive. In response, both artists and thinkers have sought to transform the spectator into an act...
The Perpetual Guest
The idea of contemporary art sometimes allows us to pretend we have made a clean break with the past. In The Perpetual Guest, poet and critic Barry Schwabsky demonstrates that any robust understand...
The Ancients and the Postmoderns
High modernism is now as far from us as antiquity was for the Renaissance. Such is the premise of Fredric Jameson’s major new work in which modernist works, this time in painting (Rubens) and music...

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