Philosopher and sociologist de rigueur
Latour is arguably the artworld theorist of recent years, if we accept that much of the object-oriented ontology / speculative realism philosophy that’s driven recent art is crystallised by his thinking in volumes such as Reassembling the Social (2005). Equally crucially, the sociologist and philosopher Frenchman isn’t hiding away in an ivory tower. His work directly connects abstract ideas and real-world crises: Gaia, the planet as a fragile interconnected organism (including people), is his avowed preoccupation now, as in his recent Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime (2017), a logical development of his thinking on the agency of the nonhuman and his conception of a ‘Parliament of Things’. Latour also has a zealot’s energy, maintaining a steady stream of lectures and essays: a public intellectual for the Anthropocene era. If he’s the young artist’s bedside companion, he’s also – surprisingly for a philosopher – likely to make them get up and do something.