In this bracing engagement with the many versions of art
history, James Elkins argues that the story of modernism and
postmodernism is almost always told in terms of four narratives.
Works of art are either seen as modern or postmodern, or praised
for their technical skill or because of the politics they appear to
embody. These are master narratives of contemporary criticism, and
each leads to a different understanding of what art is and
Both a cogent overview of the state of thinking about art and a
challenge to think outside the art historical box, Master
Narratives and their Discontents is the first volume in a
series of short books on the theories of modernism by leading art
historians on twentieth-century art and art criticism.