Looking At Art / Edition 1

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Overview

The arts affect our lives whether or not we ever set foot in a museum. Advertisements use images to sell products; pictures and sculptures stimulate our senses and decorate our urban and rural spaces. These, along with the buildings we inhabit, are manifestations of the visual arts.

This book of eight brief chapters on different aspects of the visual arts is designed to explore the nature of imagery and its relevance to many facets of our lives. Drawing on a wealth of examples from Western and non-Western art through the ages, it examines a wide range of themes, from the relationship between form and meaning, to the methodologies of art-historical analysis, to the controversies that have surrounded certain works of art both past and present.

The author's concise and clear analytical approach to understanding and appreciating works of art helps readers understand the various ways of interpreting images by artists as diverse as Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, and Jackson Pollock. Beautiful illustrations accompany the text, making this book an ideal resource for students, museum visitors, and anyone interested in the arts.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780130340528
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 8/22/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 618,415
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurie Schneider Adams teaches at John Jay College, City University of New York, and the Graduate Center. She has written widely on the arts. Her books include A History of Western Art, The Methodologies of Art, Art on Trial, and Italian Renaissance Art.

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Read an Excerpt

THE VISUAL ARTS affect our lives whether or not we ever set foot in a museum. Billboards use images to advertise products; pictures and sculptures stimulate our senses and decorate our urban and rural spaces. These, along with the buildings we inhabit, are manifestations of the visual arts.

This is a book of eight brief essays on different aspects of the visual arts. It is designed to engage readers with the nature of imagery and its relevance to their lives. Illustrations are drawn from Western and nonwestern art to give readers a range of the artistic possibilities in widely diverse societies.

Chapter 1 considers the universal appeal of images, while Chapter 2 addresses some of the culturally determined reasons for creating works of art. In Chapter 3, the relationship between form and meaning is surveyed, and Chapter 4 situates the artist in two kinds of context—prevailing aesthetic convention and practical training. The recurring formal theme of the circle, the column as a structural theme, and two iconographic themes—mother and child, and the artist's confrontation with death—are the subjects of Chapter 5.

When we view works of art today, we may not be seeing them in their original setting. In Chapter 6, therefore, we consider art in and out of the context intended by the artist. Since works of art have been analyzed from several different viewpoints, Chapter 7 introduces the major theoretical ways of interpreting imagery, focusing primarily on van Gogh's painting A Pair of Wooden Clogs. The final chapter challenges readers to come to grips with some of the controversies in which the visual arts have been involved.

I would like to thank Lee Ripley Greenfield, who first proposed this project, Nell Webb, who oversaw its development, Karen Stafford, who designed the book, and Carol Flechner, who, as always, did a great job of copyediting. For the quality of the illustrations I have to thank Sue Bolsom and Judy Rasmussen. John Adams read the text in manuscript and offered many helpful suggestions along the way. In addition, the manuscript was read and improved by Cordelia Menges, Leola MacDonald, and James Brandi. For pointers on Egyptian art, I am grateful to Ellen Davis.

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Table of Contents

1. The Appeal of Art.

2. The Aims of Art.

Decorating the Environment. Recording the Past. Religious Art. Political Art. Images that Heal, Destroy, Protect and Warn Advertising Images.

3. Style and the Formal Elements of Art.

Line and Shape. Sculpure: David by Donatello and by Bernini. Painting: Castagno's David. Color. Light and Dark. Texture. Space and Shape as Context and Illusion. Linear Perspective. Eastern Perspective Systems. Architecture as Form and Function.

4. Artists at Work: Convention and Training.

The Aesthetic Context: Convention. The Cultural Context: How Artists Learn. The Cult of Bohemia and the Artists as Rebel. The Artists as Individual: Jackson Pollock.

5. Themes of Art.

The Divine Circle. The Circle as a Sign of Burial. The Column. The Iconographic Theme.

6. Art In and Out of Context.

Narrative Context. Architectural Context. The Museum as Context. The Archaeological Dig as Museum and Context. The Natural Context. The Urban Context: Site, Politics, Economics, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

7. Approaches to Art.

Formalism. Iconography. Marxism. Feminism. Semiotics. Biography and Autobiography. Psychoanalysis.

8. Arguing about Art.

Art and Politics. Aesthetic Quarrels. Iconoclasm.

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Preface

THE VISUAL ARTS affect our lives whether or not we ever set foot in a museum. Billboards use images to advertise products; pictures and sculptures stimulate our senses and decorate our urban and rural spaces. These, along with the buildings we inhabit, are manifestations of the visual arts.

This is a book of eight brief essays on different aspects of the visual arts. It is designed to engage readers with the nature of imagery and its relevance to their lives. Illustrations are drawn from Western and nonwestern art to give readers a range of the artistic possibilities in widely diverse societies.

Chapter 1 considers the universal appeal of images, while Chapter 2 addresses some of the culturally determined reasons for creating works of art. In Chapter 3, the relationship between form and meaning is surveyed, and Chapter 4 situates the artist in two kinds of context—prevailing aesthetic convention and practical training. The recurring formal theme of the circle, the column as a structural theme, and two iconographic themes—mother and child, and the artist's confrontation with death—are the subjects of Chapter 5.

When we view works of art today, we may not be seeing them in their original setting. In Chapter 6, therefore, we consider art in and out of the context intended by the artist. Since works of art have been analyzed from several different viewpoints, Chapter 7 introduces the major theoretical ways of interpreting imagery, focusing primarily on van Gogh's painting A Pair of Wooden Clogs. The final chapter challenges readers to come to grips with some of the controversies in which the visual arts have been involved.

I would like to thank Lee Ripley Greenfield, who first proposed this project, Nell Webb, who oversaw its development, Karen Stafford, who designed the book, and Carol Flechner, who, as always, did a great job of copyediting. For the quality of the illustrations I have to thank Sue Bolsom and Judy Rasmussen. John Adams read the text in manuscript and offered many helpful suggestions along the way. In addition, the manuscript was read and improved by Cordelia Menges, Leola MacDonald, and James Brandi. For pointers on Egyptian art, I am grateful to Ellen Davis.

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