How Art Can Be Thought

A Handbook for Change

Book Pages: 336 Illustrations: 14 illustrations Published: November 2018

Author: Allan deSouza

Anthropology > Museum Studies, Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

What terms do we use to describe and evaluate art, and how do we judge if art is good, and if it is for the social good? In How Art Can Be Thought Allan deSouza investigates such questions and the popular terminology through which art is discussed, valued, and taught. Adapting art viewing to contemporary demands within a rapidly changing world, deSouza outlines how art functions as politicized culture within a global industry. In addition to offering new pedagogical strategies for MFA programs and the training of artists, he provides an extensive analytical glossary of some of the most common terms used to discuss art while focusing on their current and changing usage. He also shows how these terms may be crafted to new artistic and social practices, particularly in what it means to decolonize the places of display and learning. DeSouza's work will be invaluable to the casual gallery visitor and the arts professional alike, to all those who regularly look at, think about, and make art—especially art students and faculty, artists, art critics, and curators.


"Allan deSouza has done the art world an extraordinary service. . . . As a handbook, How Art Can Be Thought is stunning and successful—deeply informed by critical theory, yet in all aspects oriented toward practical use in the field, so to speak." — Taylor Eggan, Discursive Impulse

"This book is a detailed, thorough, and comprehensive discussion concerning all aspects of contemporary art. de Souza opens a 'can of worms' on almost every page, exposing long-held myths about art practice, what art is, and if in fact we can really say anything meaningful about the whole 'art world' at all. . . . Very well written and highly readable. It is a must read for all art educators, art students, curators, art critics and faculty at academic institutions where art is still included in the curriculum." — Rob Harle, Leonardo Reviews

"Juggling . . . the conceptual and practical . . . is no easy task and deSouza does a good job. . . . One of the strengths of the book is deSouza’s reflection on language — its importance to the project of decolonization and to artistic meaning/expression.  — Alpesh Kantilal Patel, Hyperallergic

"DeSouza shatters the trope of the handbook as static, watered-down theory. Instead, we enter an electric dialogue steeped in the vein of Paulo Freire and bell hooks. . . . With its accessible writing and contemporary perspective, How Art Can Be Thought should be required reading for art educators, administrators, art historians, critics and those interested in critical pedagogy." — Ashley Hosbach, ARLIS/NA Reviews

"How Art Can Be Thought is indeed a practical handbook and offers a comprehensive account of current art debates in the art world. To decolonize those debates, deSouza provides a rich and detailed pedagogical framework that can be adapted to shape new debates." — Uschi Klein, Visual Studies

How Art Can Be Thought compellingly interrogates the art world's languages of difference and its educational apparatuses in order to understand how they are deployed and how we can turn them on their sides to effect a decolonization both of art and art pedagogy. With Allan deSouza's incisive strategies for creating change, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in increasing meaningful diversity and inclusion in art and its institutions.” — Steven Nelson, University of California, Los Angeles

"A lexicon of contested terms, a new glossary to navigate our artistic practice, is a needed first decolonizing exercise in all art schools. This book will bring you an insightful landscape of what we should address today.” — Tania Bruguera


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Price: $27.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Allan deSouza is Associate Professor and Chair of Art Practice at the University of California, Berkeley. His work has been shown nationally and internationally, including at the Phillips Collection, the Whitney Museum, the Centre Pompidou, the National Museum of African Art, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Image Notes  vii
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. A Foot in the Door  1
1. How Art Can Be Thought  21
2. Entry Points  35
3. How Art Can Be Taught  57
4. Critique as Radical Prototype  67
5. How Art Can Be Spoken: A Glossary of Contested Terms  85
Afterwords. How, Now, Rothko?  365
Notes  283
Bibliography  303
Index  309
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0047-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0036-5
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