Art has never been as culturally and economically prominent as it is today. How can artists themselves shape the social relevance and impact of their work? In How to Do Things with Art, German art historian Dorothea von Hantelmann uses four case study artists--Daniel Buren, James Coleman, Jeff Koons and Tino Sehgal--to examine how an artwork acts upon and within social conventions, particularly through the "performing" of exhibitions.
The book's title is a play on J.L. Austin's seminal text, How to Do Things with Words, which describes language's reality-producing properties and demonstrates that in "saying" there is always a "doing"--a linguistic counterpart to the dynamics envisioned by Von Hantelmann for art, in which "showing" is a kind of "doing."