Art’s Agency and Art History develops a scintillating dialogue between anthropology and art history. It throws the subject of the anthropology of art into striking and much-needed relief, by re-articulating its relationships to key methodological and theoretical approaches in art history, sociology, and linguistics. Using Alfred Gell’s influential work as a touchstone, the book showcases nine groundbreaking case studies by an internationally renowned group of art historians and art theorists. Following an accessible introductory to Gell’s anthropology of art, and its relationship with contemporary art history, the collection explores concepts and perspectives in a wide range of contexts, ranging from such cultures as Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, to those of Classical Greece and Rome, Imperial China, the Moche of Peru, and finally the modern Western world.
About the Author
Robin Osborne is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Cambridge. He writes widely across the range of Greek history, Greek archaeology, and Classical art history. He is the author of Archaic and Classical Greek Art (1998) and of Greek History (2004).
Jeremy Tanner is a lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, where he teaches Classical archaeology and comparative art. He is the editor of The Sociology of Art: a Reader (2003), and the author of The Invention of Art History in Ancient Greece: Religion, Society and Artistic Rationalisation (2006)
Table of Contents
Series Editor’s Preface.
List of Illustrations.
Notes on Contributors.
1. Introduction: Art and Agency and Art History: Jeremy Tanner (University College London ) and Robin Osborne (University of Cambridge).
2. Enchantment and Sacrifice in Early Egypt: David Wengrow (University College London).
3. Agency Marked, Agency Ascribed: The Affective Object in Ancient Mesopotamia: Irene J. Winter (Harvard University).
4. Portraits and Agency: A Comparative View: Jeremy Tanner (University College London).
5. The Agency of, and the Agency for, the Wanli Emperor: Jessica Rawson (University of Oxford).
6. The Material Efficacy of the Elizabethan Jeweled Miniature: a Gellian Experiment: Jessen Kelly (University of California at Berkeley).
7. Representational Art in Ancient Peru and the Work of Alfred Gell: Jeffrey Quilter (Peabody Museum, Harvard).
8. Gell's Idols and Roman Cult: Peter Stewart (Courtauld Institute of Art in London).
9. Sex, Agency, and History: the Case of Athenian Painted Pottery: Robin Osborne (University of Cambridge).
10. Abducting the Agency of Art: Whitney Davis (University of California at Berkeley).
What People are Saying About This
"A very interesting volume, not only for the excellent quality of its chapters, but also because it shows promising perspectives in the cross-fertilization between anthropology and art history." (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, March 2009)
"This book represents an extended, timely and extremely valuable exploration of the applicability of the work of Alfred Gell." (The Classical Review, 2008)
"Not a single paper presented here failed to provoke or delight this reviewer. This edited volume offers an excellent introduction to Gell’s ideas.... It will surely form an important place in the growing canon of Gell-inspired literature." (Journal of Hellenic Studies, February 2009)