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During the 1990s the United States was embroiled in deeply divisive Culture Wars. In this redesigned, re-edited, illustrated new edition of the classic study Postmodern Heretics: The Catholic Imagination in Contemporary Art, cultural commentator Eleanor Heartney offers a radically original interpretation of the extraordinary cultural and political battles that took place in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Postmodern Heretics reexamines this period from the perspective of religion revealing how the most controversial artists of that time came almost without exception from Catholic backgrounds. This book clarifies for the first time how the culture of Catholicism shaped the 1990s Culture Wars. Postmodern Heretics also challenges conventional wisdom about the relationship between contemporary art and religion. By examining the myriad ways that Catholicism has worked its way into the creations of a wide swath of contemporary visual artists; this book undermines Modernist assumptions about the inherent antagonism between creativity and religious faith. A newly researched introduction brings this cultural history up-to-date for our current deeply conflicted times. The Culture Wars have flared up again, pitting Red against Blue, urban against rural, white against non-white and agnostic against believer. By revealing the Catholic roots of some of today's most important contemporary artists, "Postmodern Heretics" suggests how a more nuanced understanding of religion provides new insight into art while helping us heal our cultural divisions.
Eleanor Heartney is a New York based art writer and cultural critic who has been writing about art since 1981. She is Contributing Editor to Art in America and Artpress and has written extensively on contemporary art issues for such other magazines as Artnews, Art and Auction, The New Art Examiner, the Washington Post and the New York Times. Heartney was the 1992 recipient of the College Art Association's Frank Jewett Mather Award for distinction in art criticism and has also received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Asian Cultural Council. A collection of Heartney's essays was published in 1997 by Cambridge University Press under the title "Critical Condition: American Culture at the Crossroads." Other books include "Postmodernism" published by the Tate Gallery Publishers and Cambridge University Press in 2001; "Postmodern Heretics: The Catholic Imagination in Contemporary Art" published in 2004 by Midmarch Arts Press; "Defending Complexity," published by Hard Press Editions in 2005; and "Art and Today," a survey of contemporary art from the 1980s to the present published by Phaidon in 2008. She is a co-author of "After the Revolution: Women who Transformed Contemporary Art," 2007, which won the Susan Koppelman Award for the Best Anthology, multi-authored or edited book in Feminist Studies and the Outstanding Academic Title Award from the Association of College and Research Libraries. She is also author, with the same team, of "The Reckoning: Women Artists in the New Millennium" (2103). Heartney is past President of AICA-USA, the American section of the International Art Critics Association. In 2008 she was honored by the French government as a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.