Capacity: History, the World, and the Self in Contemporary Art and Criticism / Edition 1

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G. Roger Denson brings singular insight to Thomas McEvilley's writings. As an art writer he has explored similar territory, but from the point of view of a nomadic ideologist. His approach matches that of his subject. He addresses the issues of pragmatism, historicism, and cultural relativism. In so doing, he effectively dismantles the need to establish a master narrative. The contrast and agreement between these two writers constitutes a mapping of the terrain of contemporary culture.
What sets Thomas McEvilley apart from other critics in art and culture is his direct knowledge of the newest art and theory, and his comprehensive understanding of classic art and ancient civilizations. It is rare to find a writer equally fluent in the production of modernist aesthetics, the anti-aesthetics of post-modernism, T'ang Dynasty Taoist painting, the doctrines of the Tantra, Platonic mysticism, and Aristotelian logic. This vast knowledge has enabled him to produce some of the best-conceived and eccentric
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789057010415
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 12/1/1996
  • Series: Critical Voices in Art, Theory and Culture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Series
Foreword: Thomas McEvilley, Capacious Savant 1
1 History as Context: Expanding Modernist Form 8
1 Heads It's Form, Tails It's Not Content 22
2 Seeking the Primal Through Paint: The Monochrome Icon 45
2 The World and Its Difference 90
3 Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief: "Primitivism" in Twentieth-Century Art at the Museum of Modern Art 101
4 History, Quality, Globalism 119
5 Arrivederci, Venice: The Third World Biennials 134
3 The Self and Subjectivity 144
6 "I Am," Is a Vain Thought 150
7 Penelope's Night Work: Negative Thinking in Greek Philosophy 166
8 Empyrrhical Thinking (And Why Kant Can't) 188
4 Reincarnations and Visitations: Modernism and Postmodernism All Over Again 206
9 On The Manner of Addressing Clouds 223
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  • Posted June 15, 2010

    A Model of Relativism and Nomadic Criticism

    Michelle C. Cone wrote in her review of this book that Thomas McEvilley "explores the idea that painting is in trouble not because formalism is dead (its philosophical bases are continually being reexamined), but because of [Clement] Greenberg's association of formalism with a Eurocentric tradition that falsely claims universality and eternal relevance. Indeed, the purpose of the essays reprinted in this anthology is not to kill off painting and sculpture and the transcendental beliefs associated with them, but to demonstrate the relativism of form and content, and of all aesthetic judgments about form and content. Mcvilley argues that art that is non-representational or art that lacks clear representations of objects and figures in them "may still be representational of structures of thought, political tensions, psychological attitudes."

    "The unusual antiphonal structure of the book proves to be an interesting as well as novel way to reframe and 'add value' to previously published material. G. Roger Denson, a curator and critic who is McEvilley's commentator throughout the book, perceptively analyzes the relativist atitude. Denson's observations provide a particular edge to McEvilley's critique of Clement Greenberg's determinist interpretation of painting's evolution toward flatness. Exposing Greenberg's myopia toward ancient and non-Western cultures, he points out that 'In extending Greenberg's historicism and avant-garde logically in space and time, McEvilley takes us to societies that were the originators--the true avant-garde--of flat painting." -- Michelle C. Cone, Art Journal, College Art Association.

    I can only add that in this book we find two of the earliest champions of the nomadic approach to global art. We can actually see nomadism evolving as both McEvilley and Denson reach beyond conventional art criticism in their efforts to match the concerns of their subjects by entering into the cultural and ideological models presented to the viewer by an artist rather than carrying with them some pre-established criteria that is projected onto all art. Among the philosophical issues McEvilley and Denson address are those of pragmatism, historicism, cultural relativism, and mythopoetics, all of which are ideologically suited to dismantling the need for a master narrative or identity. In so doing, they effectively dismantle cultural, national, racial, sexual, and gender biases in the critique of art and culture, helping to ready art criticism for the globally diverse artistic productions it would receive in the coming decade.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2010

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