If the truism holds that all art is political, what might it mean to talk of the ‘increasingly political dimension of contemporary art’, as per the opening words of Anthony Downey’s 2014 book, Art and Politics Now (p. 10)? Could this dimension admit of degrees? If so, what would be the metric, and what would a minimally or maximally political art look like? Illustrating and discussing no fewer than two hundred and twenty-two artworks, Downey’s absorbing and very useful survey of the political aspects of a wide range of global contemporary art, mostly produced since the turn of the millennium, offers an excellent opportunity to size up the landscape of current politicised practice in order to consider these questions. For his part, Downey measures art’s political dimension primarily according to artists’ engagement with political themes beyond the field of art itself, indexed by the manifest political content of artworks. This,...

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