New Book

New from Brill’s Historical Materialism Book Series – The Conspiracy of Modern Art

14th Apr 2017

The Conspiracy of Modern Art

Luiz Renato Martins. Edited and Introduced by Steve Edwards

In The Conspiracy of Modern Art the Brazilian critic and art-historian Luiz Renato Martins presents a new account of modern art from David to Abstract Expressionism. The once vibrant debate on these touchstones of modernism has gone stale. Viewed from the Sao Paulo megalopolis the art of Paris and New York – embodying Revolution, Thermidor, Bonapartistm and Bourgeois ‘Triumph’ – once more pulsates in tragic key.
Equally attentive to form and politics, Martins invites us to look again at familiar pictures. In the process, modern art appears in a new light. These essays, largely unknown to an English-speaking audience, may be the most important contribution to the account of modern painting since the important debates of the 1980s.

Biographical note

Luiz Renato Martins teaches art history and aesthetics at the Visual Arts Department of the School of Arts and Communications of the University of São Paulo. He has taught in several universities in Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Spain, France and the USA, and has published many books and articles on issues such as modern art, fi lm and the contemporary global crisis.

Steve Edwards is Professor in the Department of Art History at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of several books on art and photography; an editor of the Oxford Art Journal and of the Historical Materialism Book Series.


Art Historians; historians and theorists of modernity; students of revolution; readers of French history; Marxists; French specialists. Undergraduate, post-graduates, academics, artists and museum professionals.

Table of contents

Painting, Between Gewalt and Labour: introduction to The Conspiracy of Modern Art by Steve Edwards

1 The Conspiracy of Modern Art 
2 The Hemicycle: The Image of the Nation Form
Marat by David: Photojournalism
4 18th Brumaire, the Fabrication of a Totem: Freud, David and Bonapartism
5 Remains of Voluptuousness
6 The Returns of Regicide
7 Parisian Scenes
8 Two Scenes on the Commodity
9 Painting as Labour-Form
10 Transition from Constructivism to Productivism, According to Tarabukin
11 Argan Seminar: Art, Value and Work
12 Political Economy of Modern Art I: Entries for Combat
13: Political Economy of Modern Art II: Lessons and Modes of Use