A Decade of Negative Thinking

Essays on Art, Politics, and Daily Life

A Decade of Negative Thinking

Book Pages: 336 Illustrations: 53 illustrations Published: January 2010

Author: Mira Schor

Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies

A Decade of Negative Thinking brings together writings on contemporary art and culture by the painter and feminist art theorist Mira Schor. Mixing theory and practice, the personal and the political, she tackles questions about the place of feminism in art and political discourse, the aesthetics and values of contemporary painting, and the influence of the market on the creation of art. Schor writes across disciplines and is committed to the fluid interrelationship between a formalist aesthetic, a literary sensibility, and a strongly political viewpoint. Her critical views are expressed with poetry and humor in the accessible language that has been her hallmark, and her perspective is informed by her dual practice as a painter and writer and by her experience as a teacher of art.

In essays such as “The ism that dare not speak its name,” “Generation 2.5,” “Like a Veneer,” “Modest Painting,” “Blurring Richter,” and “Trite Tropes, Clichés, or the Persistence of Styles,” Schor considers how artists relate to and represent the past and how the art market influences their choices: whether or not to disavow a social movement, to explicitly compare their work to that of a canonical artist, or to take up an exhausted style. She places her writings in the rich transitory space between the near past and the “nextmodern.” Witty, brave, rigorous, and heartfelt, Schor’s essays are impassioned reflections on art, politics, and criticism.


A Decade of Negative Thinking is significantly more than a personal account of feminist art. . . . A Decade of Negative Thinking presents a myriad of ideas of which could stand alone in their own publications. Presented together they bring into focus this sensitive analytical writer who has enriched many minds. Mira Schor’s writing is insightful and important.” — Ben Schachter, Consciousness, Literature and the Arts

"An excellent new book. . . .” — Holland Cotter, New York Times

“[Schor’s] vigorous skepticism makes these essays indispensable reading to any artist, writer, curator, art historian, or feminist who has ever felt dismayed by the continued patriarchy, corporate mentality, and formulaic artwork that can characterize the art world. . . . If this is ‘negative thinking’—and if Schor’s way of thinking is ‘negative’—maybe we all need to learn to think a little less positively.” — Abbe Schriber, Brooklyn Rail

“Witty and lucid, showing that she’s a believer in art’s power, despite all the naysaying.” — David O’Neill, Bookforum

“Authoritatively focusing on such disconnects rampant in the artworld—from ‘post or anti-feminists’ whose mega success has directly benefitted from its feminist antecedents, to preposterous claims in the art press about highly collected painters—Schor, writes as if criticism is a near political right. She is less bothered with the overall relevancy of criticism in a world of semi-literates and anti-intellectualism and more concerned with the essential role of criticism to confront and rectify the distortions in our sight and thinking instigated by the unquestioned logic and supremacy of the art market. . . . Lively and incisive. . . .” — Constance Mallinson, The Times Quotidian

“By refusing any refuge in safe subject matter, Schor doesn’t only do relevant cultural criticism, but asks the necessary question: who else but artists are brave enough to do this work?” — Reva Blau, Provincetown Banner

“Schor is both an artist and a writer, maybe the perfect person to consider in this search for uncorrupt, valuable criticism. In her excellent book A Decade of Negative Thinking, she describes anonymous online commenting as the worst possible type of criticism, because it almost always falls into what she calls the ‘sucks/bullshit’ mode. (Ah, yup.) If you're looking for the opposite of that, pick up the book.” — Jen Graves, The Stranger

“Schor stakes out her own distinctive critical territory at the intersections of imagination and practice, concept and craft, anger and hope, humor and gravity. . . . It’s refreshing to accompany Schor as she look sat and opines on the state of culture. As she concludes in the book’s final essay, two qualities an artist can use to escape the trap of recipe art are ‘necessity , and having something to say with an investment in the formal means you use to say it.’ Schor has both.” — Kathleen Rooney, Bitch

“The essays collected in A Decade of Negative Thinking present lucid, highly engaged and engaging reflections on the politics, rhetoric and political economy of artistic practice.” — Matt Davies, Visual Studies

“Mira Schor reminds us that some of the best, and most eye-opening, writing on art has always been made by artists themselves. The essays in A Decade of Negative Thinking demolish countless widely held assumptions about contemporary art, and do so with a compelling blend of skepticism and passion.” — Raphael Rubinstein, author of Polychrome Profusion: Selected Art Criticism, 1990–2002

“This collection of essays by one of the most engaging writers of contemporary art critically excavates and redefines the enduring questions in aesthetics and politics with extraordinary verve and urgency.” — Gunalan Nadarajan, Vice Provost for Research, Maryland Institute College of Art


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Price: $27.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Mira Schor is a painter, writer, and teacher living in New York. She is the author of Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture and an editor of The Extreme of the Middle: The Writings of Jack Tworkov (forthcoming) and M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artists’ Writings, Theory, and Criticism, also published by Duke University Press. Schor is a recipient of the College Art Association’s Frank Jewett Mather Award in Art Criticism.

Table of Contents Back to Top


Part 1: She Said, She Said: Feminist Debates, 1971–2009

The ism that dare not speak its name

Anonymity as a Political Tactic: Art Blogs, Feminism, Writing, and Politics

Generation 2.5

Email to a Young Woman Artist

The Womanhouse Films

Miss Elizabeth Bennett Goes to Feminist Boot Camp

Part 2: Painting

Some Notes on Women and Abstraction and a Curious Case History: Alice Neel as a Great Abstract Painter

Like a Veneer

Modest Painting

Blurring Richter

Off the Grid: Weather Conditions in Lower Manhattan, September 11, 2001 to October 2, 2001

Part 3: Trite Tropes

Trite Tropes, Clichés, or the Persistence of Styles

Recipe Art

Work and Play

New Tales of Scheherazade

Appendix: Work document: Grey



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