The Intangibilities of Form: Skill and Deskilling in Art after the Readymade

AuthorJohn Roberts
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In this intellectually wide-ranging book John Roberts develops a labor theory of culture as a model for explaining the dynamics of avant-garde artand the expansion of artistic authority in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. From Duchamp to Warhol, conceptual art, and the ‘post-visual’ practices of the moment, Roberts explores the relationship between artistic labor and productive labor, and the limits and possibilities of authorship. In doing so, he confronts a recurring theme of both conservative and radical detractors of modern art in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: how is skill, and the seeming absence of skill in modern art, to be theorized and evaluated? Drawing on cognitive psychology, labor process theory, social anthropology, and debates in contemporary political philosophy, Roberts’ book establishes a new critical topography for examining the cultural form of art today.