Die Veröffentlichung von Phaidon versucht, die Parameter der zeitgenössischen Kunst durch eine Auswahl von Kunstwerken abzugrenzen, die als die wichtigsten Beispiele internationaler zeitgenössischer Kunst gelten.
Eight internationally renowned curators have each chosen twenty five individual works to present. Selected works are each given a double page spread, which includes a short essay and several images. The material spans the twenty five years, commencing at 1986 and concluding at 2010.The hardcover edition has a striking candy pink, glossy cover, enclosed in a matt, textured, dark jade dust cover with uniform punched holes forming the title text, “Defining Contemporary Art – 25 years in 200 pivotal artworks”. The authors’ names appear scattered around the title, embossed in gold. The cover is mimetic of what the book achieves. It presents individual spots or moments placed in sequence to be read as an anthology of contemporary art (illuminated by certain individuals). However, the hardcover lends a misleading rigidity to the contents. Rather than “defining” Contemporary Art the publication opens its possibilities.