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.
Presented in the form of ABC questions, Balthus: In His Own Words reveals the artist's personal universe. "B" for beauty, "H" for Homer, "M" for Mozart, "S" for SOS, Balthus takes us through his intimate thoughts and views on everything from Paris to Chinese calligraphy. Balthus (1908-2001) learned how to paint at the Louvre museum and in Italy. A figurative artist, he gained a reputation for his incisive style and incredible precision. Balthus sometimes spent years on one painting, obsessively observing and re-creating on canvas. Later, he focused on the nude, particularly adolescent girls, which fell halfway between innocence and perversion. As the last book written in his own words prior to his death, this work has even more significance. The artist's voice shines through, offering an authentic and personal perspective.
Ambitious and interdisciplinary, this long-awaited collaboration is a landmark presentation of the writings of contemporary artists. These influential essays, interviews, and critical and theoretical comments provide bold and fertile insights into the construction of visual knowledge. Featuring a wide range of leading and emerging artists since 1945, the collection--while comprehensive and authoritative--offers the reader some eclectic surprises as well.Included here are texts that have become pivotal documents in contemporary art, along with writings that cover unfamiliar ground. Some are newly translated, others have never before been published. Together they address visual literacy, cultural studies, and the theoretical debates regarding modernism and postmodernism. The full panoply of visual media is represented, from painting and sculpture to environments, installations, performance, conceptual art, video, photography, and virtual reality. Thematic concerns range from figuration and process to popular culture, art and technology, and politics and the media. Contemporary issues of gender, race, class, and sexuality are also addressed. Kristine Stiles's general introduction is a succinct overview of artists' theories in the evolution of contemporary discourse around art. Introductions to each chapter provide synopses of the cultural contexts in which the texts originated and brief biographies of individual artists. The text is augmented by outstanding photographs, many of artists in their studios, and vivid, contemporary art images. Reflecting the editors' shared belief that artists' own theories provide unparalleled access to visual knowledge, this book, like its distinguished predecessors, Hershel Chipp's Theories of Modern Art (with Peter Selz and Joshua Taylor) and Joshua Taylor's Nineteenth-Century Theories of Art, will be an invaluable resource for anyone interested in contemporary art. "In New York in 1915 I bought at a hardware store a snow shovel on which I wrote 'in advance of the broken arm.' It was around that time that the word 'readymade' came to mind to designate this form of manifestation."--Marcel Duchamp (1961) "Women have always collected things and saved and recycled them because leftovers yielded nourishment in new forms. The decorative functional objects women made often spoke in a secret language, bore a covert imagery. When we read these images in needlework, in paintings, in quilts, rugs and scrapbooks, we sometimes find a cry for help, sometimes an allusion to a secret political alignment, sometimes a moving symbol about the relationships between men and women."--Miriam Schapiro and Melissa Meyer (1978) "I want to create a fusion of art and life, Asia and America, Duchampiana modernism and Levi-Straussian savagism, cool form and hot video, dealing with all of those complex problems, spanning the tribal memory of the Nomadic Asians who crossed over the Bering Strait over 10,000 years ago."--Shigeko Kubota (1976) "Black for me is a lot more peaceful and gentle than white. White marble may be very beautiful, but you can't read anything on it. I wanted something that would be soft on the eyes, and turn into a mirror if you polished it. The point is to see yourself reflected in the names. Also the mirror image doubles and triples the space."--Maya Lin (1983) "Artists often depend on the manipulation of symbols to present ideas and associations not always apparent in such symbols. If all such ideas and associations were evident there would be little need for artists to give expression to them. In short, there would be no need to make art."--Andres Serrano (1989)
The Old Kingdom (c. 2650-2150 B.C.E.), the first golden age of Ancient Egypt, was a period that defined the culture's artistic style for centuries to come. It was during this time that the great pyramids of Giza, the only remaining wonders of the ancient world, were built. When Greek historian Herodotus saw these monuments in the fifth century B.C.E., he was told they were constructed by the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. Ironically, today, 170 years after their hieroglyphics were deciphered and extensive archaeological research has been conducted, we do not know much more than Herodotus did about this magnificent era of Egyptian art.
During the Old Kingdom, artists worked in an array of mediums and techniques, using wood, and precious metals to create monumental statues, reliefs, and wall paintings. Some four millennia later, these works of art maintain their power to move the viewer. "When the Pyramids Were Built: Egyptian Art of the Old Kingdom" is the catalogue that accompanies a landmark exhibition organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Reunion des Musees Nationaux in Paris, and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. The show brings together 115 Old Kingdom masterworks from museum collections throughout the world.
Belsey, the curator of Gainsborough House and a specialist on the painter, has assembled a handsome catalog of drawings and paintings by Gainsborough, and some by his followers and contemporaries, with lengthy entries for each. An introduction describes the history of the Gainsborough House as a his
In this prescient and beautifully written book, Booker Prize-winning author John Berger examines the life and work of Ernst Neizvestny, a Russian sculptor whose exclusion from the ranks of officially approved Soviet artists left him laboring in enforced obscurity to realize his monumental and very public vision of art. But Berger's impassioned account goes well beyond the specific dilemma of the pre-glasnot Russian artist to illuminate the very meaning of revolutionary art. In his struggle against official orthodoxy--which involved a face-to-face confrontation with Khruschev himself--Neizvestny was fighting not for a merely personal or aesthetic vision, but for a recognition of the true social role of art. His sculptures earn a place in the world by reflecting the courage of a whole people, by commemorating, in an age of mass suffering, the resistance and endurance of millions.
"Berger is probably our most perceptive commentator on art.... A civilized and stimulating companion no matter what subject happens to cross his mind."--Philadelphia Inquirer
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.
The story of one of the most famous statues in history is fully told here, from the unearthing of the statue in 1820 through quibbles among the French, Germans, and Turks, over who should possess her.