Encountering the Spiritual in Contemporary Art


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Leesa K. Fanning; With contributions by Ladan Akbarnia, Stephen Gilchrist, Eleanor Heartney, Mary Jane Jacob, Karen Kramer, and Karen E. Milbourne

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An in-depth and current investigation of how the spiritual is manifestly present in contemporary art

The spiritual is everywhere evident in contemporary art, and this publication fulfills a long-awaited need. Encountering the Spiritual in Contemporary Art addresses the subject in depth for the first time in over three decades. It significantly broadens the scope of previous studies to include new media and non-Western and Indigenous art (in addition to that of the West), presents art from diverse cultures with equal status, promotes cultural specificity, and moves beyond notions of “center and periphery,” celebrating the plurality and global nature of contemporary art today. Major essays based on cultural affinities are interspersed with brief thematic essays to provide diverse perspectives and expand the knowledge of academic and general audiences.

Encountering the Spiritual provides an alternative to the main currents of presentation and interpretation prevalent in contemporary art, appealing to believers, agnostics, and inveterate skeptics alike. This essential publication demonstrates that the need to address the fundamental questions of life are both innate and ongoing.

Distributed for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Leesa Fanning is curator of contemporary art at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.

“[A] landmark and lavishly illustrated publication” —Brian Cooper, Church of England Newspaper

“Superbly illustrated essays” —Church Times
ISBN: 9780300233650
Publication Date: July 17, 2018
Publishing Partner: Distributed for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
312 pages, 9 1/4 x 11 1/2
150 color illus.
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