Monday, June 3, 2013

An overview of rich history of art

Released earlier this year, a major scholarly compilation provides a roadmap of the art & culture domain by reassessing the perceived impact of a wide gamut of significant written works such as these from historical, social and cultural perspective - from Alpers and Krauss to Gombrich and Greenberg. It’s an interesting account of important scholarly books, placing them within the broader disciplinary field, narrated through its important seminal texts.

Each chapter of ‘The Books that Shaped Art History’ - written by a known curator, art historian or one of today’s promising art scholars- revolves around a single theme- so as to individually and collectively present a varied and in-depth overview of the rich history of art. Stonard in an explanatory essay explores how art history has been cohesively forged by these significant contributions, as well as by the sustained dialogues and even ruptures between them. There is supplementary documentation to summarize each art historian’s achievements, a detailed publication history of their respective texts and suggestions for further reading.

For example, how strangely comforting and ironical, it is to grasp that Roger Fry's ‘Cézanne’ slipped into the world, literally, in far less than stellar circumstances. First published in 1926 in a French magazine sans any illustrations, all it yielded to the author were a few free copies. Virginia and Leonard Woolf, his close friends, did a version in English for their Hogarth Press. It still left much to be desired.

Yet these loopholes did not matter when seen against the backdrop of the writer’s monumental achievement with his thoughtful text. By scrutinizing the interrelations of form and color, he set down the framework for a proto formalism, which went on to become the dominant way of constructing art criticism for years to come.

In a point, Susie Nash puts particularly well in her essay on German scholar Erwin Panofsky, for 20th-century criticism to be great it didn’t necessarily have to be right, always. Many of his arguments were rather ill-conceived since he often was from accessing primary material. But Panofsky’s vibrant, big-guns approach to his discipline made his work so engaging.” In general, the art writers who have found a deserved place in this volume were invariably ‘ambitious and avid risk takers’.

No comments:

Post a Comment