From its origins in mid-nineteenth-century Paris, the idea of bohemia has been a powerful and persistent component of artistic identity. While artists have always in part had a reputation for living outside societal norms, it was here that such a way of life was first codified and romanticized. The concept of bohemia quickly achieved an international currency, and after the Second World War it emerged in many different places around the world.  

Bohemia: History of an Idea, 1950–2000 looks at the differences and the continuities in a variety of these scenes. It concludes at the end of the twentieth century, when commodity culture began to erode a way of life predicated on its refusal. The bohemian idea nevertheless still offers an alternative to conformity, and for that reason still exerts a fascination. Even from out of the past, it still beckons with ways of living that continue to galvanize and inspire. 

Published to accompany a major exhibition at the Kunsthalle Praha, this book includes discussion of important works by a diverse range of artists, including Stan Douglas, Ed van der Elsken, Nan Goldin, Tomislav Gotovac, Peter Hujar, Libuše Jarcovjáková, Alice Neel, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Zhang Huan, among many others. 

The author, Russell Ferguson, a research professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, has written widely about postwar and contemporary art. His books include In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O’Hara and American Art (1999) and, with Kerry Brougher, Damage Control: Art and Destruction since 1950 (2013)

Author: Russell Ferguson 
Graphic design: Studio Najbrt 

Number of pages: 224 
Dimensions: 180 × 265 mm 
Binding: V8, hardcover 
Language: English 
ISBN: 978-80-908456-3-3 

Publisher: Kunsthalle Praha and Hatje Cantz 

Release: March 2023