Doomsday Dreams:
The Apocalyptic Imagination in Contemporary Art

Eleanor Heartney
Silver Hollow Press | 2019

In this FSA Inspirations feature, we highlight an FSA Visionary, the author, curator and art critic Eleanor Heartney’s fascinating book Doomsday Dreams: The Apocalyptic Imagination in Contemporary Art

According to a review by the editors of Art in America, the book “considers the various ways contemporary artists have approached the theme of the end of the world, an idea that she describes as ‘deeply embedded in almost every aspect of Western culture,’ including our understanding of time, social upheavals, and notions of perfection and progress. ‘Is there a way to imagine the End that doesn’t consign huge swaths of the human race to death and destruction? Is there a way to reconfigure Paradise and its promise of regeneration without succumbing to sectarianism and strife?’ Heartney asks. Artists, she argues, ‘can help us understand the continuing hold of the apocalyptic imagination’—and perhaps also point to ways beyond it. In the book, Heartney surveys the history of apocalyptic imagery, from its emergence in the sacred texts of the ancient Zoroastrian Avesta to Cold War–era responses to the threat of nuclear annihilation, before turning to its use by contemporary artists as a means of addressing subjects like ecological crisis, religion, ethics, and political struggle.”

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