The Cute


This singular collection of writings tracks the astonishing impact of one vernacular aesthetic category – the cute – on post-war and contemporary art.


ISBN: 9780854882984 Category:


The Cute tracks the astonishing impact of a single aesthetic category on post-war and contemporary art, and on the vast range of cultural practices and discourses on which artists draw. From robots and cat videos to ice cream socials, The Cute explores the ramifications of an aesthetic ‘of’ or ‘about’ minorness – or what is perceived to be diminutive, subordinate, and above all, unthreatening – on the shifting forms and contents of art today. This anthology is the first of its kind to show how contemporary artists have worked on and transformed the cute, and in ways that not only complexify its meaning, but reshape their own artistic practices.

Artists surveyed include Peggy Ahwesh, Cosima Von Bonin, Nayland Blake, Paul Chan, Henry Darger, Adrian Howells, Juliana Huxtable, Larry Johnson, Mike Kelley, Dean Kenning, Wyndham Lewis, Jeff Koons, Sean-Kierre Lyons, Mammalian Diving Reflex, Tala Madani, Annette Messager, Mariko Mori, Charlemagne Palestine, Mika Rottenberg, Allen Ruppersberg, Jack Smith, Carolee Schneeman, Kara Walker, Andy Warhol, Yoshitomo Nara Writers include Sasha Archibald, Roland Barthes, Leigh Claire La Berge, Ian Bogost, Lauren Berlant, Jennifer Doyle, Lee Edelman, Stephen Jay Gould, Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy, Bridget Minamore, Juliane Rebentisch, Frances Richard, John Roberts, Friedrich Schiller, Peter Schjeldahl, Kanako Shiokawa

Additional information

Weight 546 g
Dimensions 15 x 20.9 cm
Publisher name Whitechapel Gallery
Publication date 25 July 2022
Number of pages 240
Format Paperback / softback
Dimensions 15 x 20.9 cm
Weight 546 g


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Sianne Ngai is the author of Ugly Feelings (Harvard, 2005), Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting (Harvard, 2012), and Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form (Belknap/Harvard, 2020). She is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English at the University of Chicago.