Living Art

Living Art

Indonesian Artists Engage Politics, Society and History

Edited by: Elly Kent orcid, Virginia Hooker, Caroline Turner

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Living Art: Indonesian Artists Engage Politics, Society and History is inspired by the conviction of so many of Indonesia’s Independence-era artists that there is continuing interaction between art and everyday life. In the 1970s, Sanento Yuliman, Indonesia’s foremost art historian of the late twentieth century, further developed that concept, stating: ‘New Indonesian Art cannot wholly be understood without locating it in the context of the larger framework of Indonesian society and culture’ and the ‘whole force of history’. The essays in this book accept Yuliman’s challenge to analyse the intellectual, sociopolitical and historical landscape that Indonesia’s artists inhabited from the 1930s into the first decades of the new millennium, including their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The inclusion of one of Yuliman’s most influential essays, translated into English for the first time, offers those outside Indonesia an insight into a formative period in the generation of new art knowledge in Indonesia. The volume also features essays by T. K. Sabapathy, Jim Supangkat, Alia Swastika, Wulan Dirgantoro and FX Harsono, as well as the three editors (Elly Kent, Virginia Hooker and Caroline Turner). The book’s contributors present recent research on issues rarely addressed in English-language texts on Indonesian art, including the inspirations and achievements of women artists despite social and political barriers; Islam- inspired art; artistic ideologies; the intergenerational effects of trauma; and the impacts of geopolitical change and global art worlds that emerged in the 1990s. The Epilogue introduces speculations from contemporary practitioners on what the future might hold for artists in Indonesia.

Extensively illustrated, Living Art contributes to the acknowledgement and analysis of the diversity of Indonesia’s contemporary art and offers new insights into Indonesian art history, as well as the contemporary art histories of Southeast Asia and Asia more generally.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Nov 2022
Asian Studies Series Monograph 17
ANU Press
Asian Studies Series
Arts & Humanities: Art & Music, Cultural Studies, History
Southeast Asia: Indonesia

PDF Chapters

Living Art »

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  1. Contextualising Art in Indonesia’s History, Society and Politics (PDF, 5.2MB)Elly Kent, Virginia Hooker and Caroline Turner doi
  2. Artistic Ideologies: Individual and Society in Indonesian Art (PDF, 3.3MB)Elly Kent doi
  3. New Indonesian Painting (PDF, 2.6MB)Sanento Yuliman, translated by Elly Kent doi
  4. ‘God Is Beautiful and Loves Beauty’: Aesthetics and Ethics in Islam-Inspired Art (PDF, 1.8MB)Virginia Hooker doi
  5. The Contemporary in Southeast Asian Art: The 1970s (PDF, 1.6MB)T. K. Sabapathy doi
  6. A Brief History of Indonesian Modern Art (PDF, 3.1MB)Jim Supangkat doi
  7. Redefining the Contemporary in a Global Context: Indonesian Art in the 1990s (PDF, 3.0MB)Caroline Turner doi
  8. New Order Policies on Art/Culture and Their Impact on Women’s Roles in Visual Arts, 1970s–90s (PDF, 1.6MB)Alia Swastika doi
  9. After 1965: Historical Violence and Strategies of Representation in Indonesian Visual Arts (PDF, 1.4MB)Wulan Dirgantoro doi
  10. From the Oppressed towards a Dark History (PDF, 1.9MB)FX Harsono, translated by Elly Kent doi


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