Art & Trousers: Tradition and Modernity in Contemporary Asian Art
an ArtNews Top Art Book of 2021
Cultural historian David Elliott is a key figure of the international contemporary art world in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In his work as a curator and museum director since his groundbreaking exhibitions in the 1980s at the Oxford Museum of Modern Art, Elliott has contributed to the global conversation on art through biennales and major exhibitions from Stockholm to Shanghai, Kyiv to Sydney, and as the founding director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo and Istanbul Modern.
A collection of more than 30 essays, fully illustrated with more than 640 colour images, Art & Trousers moves deftly between regional analysis, portraits of individual artists, and a metaphorical history of trousers, presenting a panoramic view of modern and contemporary Asian art, and focusing on the various impacts of invention, tradition, exchange, colonization, politics, social development, and gender. Elliott spotlights the practice of many leading global artists of the early 21st century, including Hiroshi Sugimoto, Cai Guo-Qiang, Ai Weiwei, Xu Bing, Rashid Rana, Bharti Kher, Makoto Aida, Chatchai Puipia, and Yeesookyung, among many others. Art & Trousers offers insight into the development of a key curatorial practice for our times, and is an essential resource for anyone seeking to understand contemporary art and the way it operates across borders.
“...a book you cannot do justice to in a single sitting. It contains essays that you want to return to again and again.”
- Howard Morphy, Di'van
"Curator and scholar David Elliott, who was in at the birth pangs of “global contemporary art” over forty years ago, here uses his unparalleled knowledge of the field to produce a brilliantly original, provocative, and readable account. Polemically autobiographical and sanely sceptical, this is an essential read for those who want to know what the fuss is about, written with insight and humour by one of the first makers of the fuss."
- Craig Clunas, FBA, Professor Emeritus of the History of Art, University of Oxford
“Drawing on his involvement in both major collective shows and smaller individual retrospectives, Elliott powerfully talks through the lives and works of artists situated in particular political histories, building up a comprehensive view of the alternate pathways to modernity and nationhood that can be charted in, respectively, India, China, Japan, South East Asia, post-Soviet Eurasia, and Turkey. His skill and erudition as a curator is apparent throughout … a beautiful gazetteer of contemporary Asian art, well referenced in history and its decentred account of the modern.” - Adrian Farrell, Third Text
David Elliott is a specialist in modern and contemporary Asian art, as well as in the Soviet and Russian avant-garde. He was the Founding Director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo and Istanbul Modern. He is currently Senior Curator at the Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art in Guangzhou, China.
Publication year: 2021
368 pp / 255 X 192 mm
640 colour illustrations
Published by ArtAsiaPacific, distributed by NUS Press