Exhibitions, in the widest sense of the word

Exhibitions are the primary means of communication for the art world, and although there are other ways for artistic endeavour to be disseminated – with photography for instance the art book is arguably more important – the staged and curated art show remains one of the principal linchpins of the business. Show Time is an invitation to examine “The 50 Most Influential Exhibitions of Contemporary Art” – and the defining role therein of the curator – and it looks at these exhibitions as examples of a developing practice, both in terms of the overall event itself and in the individual works of which they are comprised.

As soon as you consider the art show as an art form in and of itself it should come as no surprise that a considered analysis of a series of important and often seminal examples provides a fascinating subject. In addition, Show Time is packed with revelation – both of the thought processes and concepts driving the featured exhibitions, and of the exhibitions (or biennales, or festivals) themselves. To all but the most dedicated and applied international art-world aficionado, this book will bring new information while transporting them to, some far-flung, art events, all the time contextualising what’s going on and explaining the importance of each outing to the continued development of curatorial practice, the wider art world and, more often than not, the wider world outside art. At the same time as detailing all that, Show Time is beautifully produced, illustrated with obvious care and enthusiasm and, given that the author Jens Hoffmann is himself a noted curator, unsurprisingly it is a highly accomplished example of idea delivery.

When you look back over art history there are important individual works and certainly there are zeitgeist-changing artists, however it is often the exhibitions – think of the Salon des Refusées or Freeze - that are the seismic waypoints in the progress of art, creating a situation and generating a mythology that influences and informs those that come after. In those terms the importance and relevance of a book like this is difficult to over-emphasise and an examination of curators’ work, its evolution and its output is a welcome addition to anyone’s art-book shelf.

We have a sister website – www.GalleriesNow.net – which lists curated exhibitions worldwide, treating them as the fundamental building block of art world practice – and it is great to see a book which studies this exact subject so seriously and adeptly.

Show Time: The 50 Most Influential Exhibitions of Contemporary Art&lt, by Jens Hoffmann, is published by Thames & Hudson at £29.95. Buy the book here.

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