"By the end of the 20th Century," reckons Chris Stephens, Head of Displays at Tate Modern, in his Introduction, "London could claim to have become the world capital of art...signalled by the opening of Tate Modern." Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?
But he's got a point. As well as the Tate, the past 15 years have seen the rise of the 'Young British Artists', a blossoming of public sculpture, and street art taken to a new level. And lottery money has allowed extensions to most of the major galleries and museums. This new book by Tiddy Rowan (with Stephens acknowledged as consultant) delivers a pocket-sized snapshot of the best in contemporary and modern London art.
Flicking through, you'll be surprised at how many names are familiar - even if you only pay occasional attention to London's art scene. Banksy, the Chapman Brothers, Tracy Emin, Gilbert & George, Antony Gormley, Thomas Heatherwick, Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, Sarah Lucas, Chris Ofili, Marc Quinn, Rachel Whiteread...are some of the near-household-names among recent artists. The book also covers those of older generations, such as Henry Moore and Eduardo Paolozzi, who made their mark on the capital.
Each artist gets a one-page entry, with examples of their work plotted on master maps at the end. There's also an extensive directory of galleries and arts venues. These features mean you can use the book as a walking guide to some of London's finest works, and answer the opening question for yourself, 'Is London the world's capital of art?".
Art In The City - London by Tiddy Rowan is out now from Quadrille Publishing, along with a companion volume covering Paris.