From Idolatry to Advertising: Visual Art and Contemporary Culture / Edition 1

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A description of the evolution of all four major types of contemporary visual art: fine art, popular art, design, and advertising. Written and illustrated to appeal to a broad readership with interest in the visual arts, contemporary culture, and the pervasive effects of television and the computer.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A thought-provoking analysis of art's role in modern society, From Idolatry to Advertising begins with Renaissance notions of fine art and continues through the current proliferation of popular art, design art and advertising, deftly incorporating spirituality, psychology, history and sociology into its approach to art's meaning and impact. Author Josephson bases her analysis on the ``cultural niche'' theory of art: art is both a product of evolution and a tool by which cultures ``stimulate certain mental postures.'' Her refreshing intellectual perspective, a mixture of art professor's and cultural anthropologist's, encompasses hotel artwork, Garfield lunchboxes and the ubiquitous ``cute puppies in a basket'' without a trace of fine-art snobbery. The chapter on advertising and its use of popular-art techniques resorts to well-worn media theory to make its points, but Josephson's closing chapter, on mankind's slide down the slope of cultural evolution during the media age, is simultaneously sharp, smart and terrifying. The one serious drawback is Josephson's voice: she is a philosophy professor by trade, and her writing is repetitious, as if meant to be spoken, not read. Nevertheless, her thoughtful musings on art, advertising and humanity's future are conveyed with enough strength and clarity to make this a fascinating and powerful book. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Josephson (philosophy, Columbus Coll. of Art and Design; computer and information science, Ohio State Univ.) here superficially traces historical developments of visual artforms and their cultural influences. Unfortunately, her slipshod writing distracts from the content. She confuses the use of singular and plural pronouns, refers to those who lived during the Middle Ages as "the Medievals," and offers up sentences and concepts with annoying repetition. Those who muddle through the text will find nothing new. Josephson sees intellectual fine art as losing its cultural impact to the sentimentality of popular art, industrial design art, and advertising and suggests that TV and computers are fast becoming our visual reality. Not recommended.Joan Levin, MLS, Chicago
Traces the cultural evolution of the visual arts, looking at the ways in which culture shapes art, the role of institutional structures, and debates over censorship, public art, and popular art. Overviews the evolution of fine art from the Renaissance to the present, and discusses the histories of design and advertising, and the interaction of art and technology, especially in the marriage of the television and computer. For students in art and cultural studies. Paper edition (unseen), $19.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781563248764
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 6/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Ch. 1 The Cultural-Niche Theory of Art 1
Ch. 2 The Fine Art Cultural Niche 41
Ch. 3 The Popular Art Cultural Niche 80
Ch. 4 The Design Art Cultural Niche 115
Ch. 5 Advertising 152
Ch. 6 The Media and the Rebirth of Mythic Culture 183
Bibliography 225
Index 233
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