This searing book has become the authoritative account of the new British art of the 1990s, its legacy in the 21st century, and what it tells us about the fate of high art in contemporary society. High Art Lite provides a sustained analysis of the phenomenal success of YBA, young British artists obsessed with commerce, mass media and the cult of personality – Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Marcus Harvey, Sarah Lucas, among others. In this fully revised and expanded edition, Julian Stallabrass explores how YBA lost its critical immunity in the new millennium, and looks at the ways in which figures such as Hirst, Emin, Wearing and Landy have altered their work in recent years.
“Julian Stallabrass, in his Verrine blast against Britart, combines the early Berger’s fierce critique of consumerist contamination with the later Berger’s sense of art’s high purpose.”—Marina Warner, London Review of Books
“I cannot help but endorse his analysis of the high art lite tendency … its abject willingness to be f**ked up by the cult of celebrity; f**ked over by the 1990s boom in consumerism; f**ked sideways by its adoption of the styles and modes of popular culture; and f**ked to buggery by its co-option by a new Labourite idiotology.”—Will Self
“A lacerating analysis of the reactionary tendencies of high art lite itself.”—Financial Times
“This is a sharp and sensible book about something that seemed unlikely to attract such treatment—the new, rude, jokey, confrontational British Art of the 1990s.”—Evening Standard
“A full-throated attack on the ‘new British art,’ a movement obsessed with commerce and cults of the personal, that manages to be smarter and more far-reaching than its hyped-hopped-up subject … Nimbly written and bolstered by a constellation of critical and cultural referents: balanced, engrossing, historically framed examination of this latest avant-garde, so startling yet so oddly familiar.”—Kirkus Review
“He asks the questions that people would like addressed, and gives the thoughtful and provocative answers. What is the real worth of these artefacts?”—Richard Gott, Independent
“Stallabrass has done us all a favour. He’s taken on a dirty job and we are all indebted to him … his analysis is lucid and penetrating. It’s also quite funny … something to be read voluntarily with pleasure.”—Art and Language, everything magazine