Traces the history of art in America, from the early works of Native Americans to the present day, and includes critical commentaries, anecdotes, profiles, and hundreds of illustrations
In Art: A New History, Paul Johnson turns his great gifts as a world historian to a subject that has enthralled him all his life: the history of art. This narrative account, from the earliest cave paintings up to the present day, has new things to say about almost every period of art. Taking account of changing scholarship and shifting opinions, he draws our attention to a number of neglected artists and styles, especially in Scandinavia, Germany, Russia and the Americas.
Paul Johnson puts the creative originality of the individual at the heart of his story. He pays particular attention to key periods: the emergence of the artistic personality in the Renaissance, the new realism of the early seventeenth century, the discovery of landscape painting as a separate art form, and the rise of ideological art. He notes the division of 'fashion art' and fine art at the beginning of the twentieth century, and how it has now widened.
Though challenging and controversial, Paul Johnson is not primarily a revisionist. He is a passionate lover of beauty who finds creativity in many places. With 300 colour illustrations, this book is vivid, evocative and immensely readable, whether the author is describing the beauty of Egyptian low-relief carving or the medieval cathedrals of Europe, the watercolours of Thomas Girtin or the utility of Roman bridges ('the best bridges in history'), the genius of Andrew Wyeth or the tranquility of the Great Mosque at Damascus, the paintings of Ilya Repin or a carpet-page from the Lindisfarne Gospels. The warmth and enthusiasm of Paul Johnson's descriptions will send readers hurrying off to see these wonders for themselves.
With this provocative and infinitely moving collection of essays, a preeminent critic of our time responds to the profound questions posed by the visual world. For when Booker Prize-winning author John Berger writes about Cubism, he writes not only of Braque, L ger, Picasso, and Gris, but of that incredible moment early in this century when the world converged around a marvelous sense of promise. When he looks at the Modigliani, he sees a man's infinite love revealed in the elongated lines of the painted figure.Ranging from the Renaissance to the conflagration of Hiroshima; from the Bosphorus to Manhattan; from the woodcarvers of a French village to Goya, D rer, and Van Gogh; and from private experiences of love and of loss, to the major political upheavals of our time, The Sense of Sight encourages us to see with the same breadth, courage, and moral engagement that its author does.
Daily life in ancient Egypt was, according to Karol Mysliwiec, saturated with eroticism and much influenced by cult and magic as well. Ancient Egyptian religion, with its variety of gods living, feeling, and reacting much like mortals, he says, is a valuable index of human lifestyles of the day. Eros on the Nile, which has more than a hundred illustrations, including nineteen in full color, addresses selected facets of the erotic concepts and practices of the ancient Egyptians, as recorded in art and literature; it also includes some recent archaeological discoveries by the author and his colleagues. Mysliwiec presents his theory about one of the most intriguing, mysterious hieroglyphic signs, representing a male face with female coloration. Mysliwiec examines the cult of the king and his relationship to the gods as reflected in a legend depicting the royal child as the fruit of a relationship between a god and an earthly woman. He discusses in detail the special religious and political role of royal women, which found expression in the institution of the "gods wife" and describes and illustrates sexual episodes depicted in the "Turin Papyrus," a unique document dating from the times of the New Kingdom (2nd Millennium B.C.E.). Contrasting with the somewhat brutal naturalism of these scenes is the subtle sensuality of Ancient Egyptian love poetry, excerpts from which are quoted in the book.
The world's most well known works of art are both instantly familiar and profoundly mysterious. What has made these images so popular, and how did they come into existence? The Private Life of a Masterpiece answers these questions by delving into the secrets of iconic works of art dating from 1501 to 1950. Piecing together a trail of clues, it examines each work from conception through completion to afterlife, detailing how the commission came about, the preparation undertaken by the artist, the way the work was executed, how the finished work was received, and its influence on other artists. We learn, for example, that Leonardo devised a new form of perspective when painting the Mona Lisa, and that four centuries later Picasso was detained for stealing the portrait from the Louvre; that Goya painted The Third of May 1808 as a criticism of the monarchy but nonetheless offered it to the king as a gift; that Van Gogh's Sunflowers owes much to improvements in the postal system; that Munch's The Scream was influenced by the Incas; and that Jackson Pollock's paintings were promoted by the CIA. Along the way, we also learn about each artist's life, including the struggles with family, lovers, patrons, and critics.The works featured in this book met with a variety of reactions when first unveiled, and the author details them all, from admiration and respect to horror and contempt. Now readers can judge for themselves. Beautifully illustrated and lucidly written, The Private Life of a Masterpiece offers an innovative and compelling introduction to the extraordinary stories contained in the history of art. It will enthrall all those who wish to know more about this fascinating subject.
Each year in the United States, millions of mass-produced greeting cards proclaim their occasional messages: "For My Loving Daughter," "On the Occasion of Your Marriage," and "It's a Boy " For more than 150 years, greeting cards have tapped into and organized a shared language of love, affection, and kinship, becoming an integral part of American life and culture. Contemporary incarnations of these emotional transactions performed through small bits of decorated paper are often dismissed as vacuous clich s employing worn-out stereotypes. Nevertheless, the relationship of greeting cards to systems of material production is well worth studying and understanding, for the modern greeting card is the product of an industry whose values and aims seem to contradict the sentiments that most cards express. In fact, greeting cards articulate shifting forms of love and affiliation experienced by people whose lives have been shaped by the major economic changes of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A Token of My Affection shows in fascinating detail how the evolution of the greeting card reveals the fundamental power of economic organization to enable and constrain experiences of longing, status, desire, social connectedness, and love and to structure and partially determine the most private, internal, and intimate of feelings.Beautifully illustrated, A Token of My Affection follows the development of the modern greeting card industry from the 1840s, as a way of recovering that most elusive of things--the emotional subjectivity of another age. Barry Shank charts the evolution of the greeting card from an afterthought to a traditional printing and stationery business in the mid-nineteenth century to a multibillion-dollar industry a hundred years later. He explains what an industry devoted to emotional sincerity means for the lives of all Americans. Blending archival research in business history with a study of surviving artifacts and a literary analysis of a broad range of relevant texts and primary sources, Shank demonstrates the power of business to affect love and the ability of love to find its way in the marketplace of consumer society.