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Anywhere or Not at All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art

A new reading of the philosophy of contemporary art by the author of The Politics of Time

Contemporary art is the object of inflated and widely divergent claims. What kind of discourse can help us give it a critical sense?

Anywhere or Not At All is a major philosophical intervention in art theory that challenges the terms of established positions through a new approach at once philosophical, historical, social and art-critical. Setting out the claim that ‘contemporary art is postconceptual art’, the book elaborates a series of conceptual constructions and interpretations of works by Navjot Altaf, the Atlas Group, Amar Kanwar, Sol LeWitt, Gordon Matta-Clark, Gerhard Richter and Robert Smithson, among others. It concludes with new accounts of the institutional and existential complexities of ‘art space’ and ‘art time’.

Anywhere or Not At All maps out the conceptual coordinates for an art that is both critical and contemporary in the era of global capitalism.


  • “Anywhere or Not At All is more than just an excellent book. It presents us with the lineaments of a critical philosophy of art that proves the conceptual dimen- sion to be essential to contemporary art. Following this strong thin line of risk in his own thinking, Osborne genuinely opens a way forward; a way that escapes the aesthetic impasse of contemporary phil- osophy, and that connects it anew with the problems immanent to art, to the metaphysical dimension it operates with in its own right... this is not a book to miss, for it amounts to one of the few highly intriguing, unprecedented and disquieting propositions about art to be found in these consensual times.”
  • “It is an ambitious attempt to restore intellectual relevance to the art that is made today, beyond all cynical descriptions, and to create a historical framework that allows us to read our own present as full of possibilities, provided that we do not surrender to objective cynicism. The book is rich in ideas and sidetracks...compared with most of what is written on “contemporary art”, it is on a completely other level of sophistication.”
  • “A conceptually challenging and forward-thinking text”
  • “This long overdue philosophy of contemporary art provides us with the conceptual tools to rethink both the history of contemporary art and the philosophy of art criticism. Impassioned yet analytical, Osborne delivers a politically astute discourse in a prose highly pleasurable for its clarity. It is essential reading for anyone serious about contemporary art – or its philosophy.”
  • “Osborne insists that what we need is a new and properly philosophical art criticism.”


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