148 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 color and 34 b&w illus., notes, index
Bettie Allison Rand Lectures in Art History
With this book, Thomas Crow contributes a refreshing analysis of the present state of art history, the practice of interpreting art and making it "intelligible." He aims to relocate the discussion of theory and method in art history away from models borrowed from other disciplines by presenting what he considers three of the most successful and challenging works in the literature of art history: Meyer Schapiro on the Romanesque portal sculpture of the abbey church of Sainte Marie in the French town of Souillac, Claude Lévi-Strauss on the Native American masks of the Northwest Coast, and Michael Baxandall on the limewood sculptors of Renaissance Germany.
Sketching the history of trends in art history--from description and biography, to more recent social-historical methods, to the latest wave of postmodernist approaches--Crow sets out a course that affirms the rich and valuable tools of language and methodology developed by generations of art historians while recognizing the important contribution of recent theory in raising the interpretive stakes. The Intelligence of Art offers nothing less than a concrete new way to grasp the infinitely complex operations of human intelligence in artistic form.
"Crow has presented a rare set of reflections that might be termed a Bildungsroman whose characters are works of art as interpreted by art historians and anthropologists. . . . Immensely challenging to art historians, for whom this book will be a stimulation to rethink the ways art history is created. For philosophers, the lectures generate a wealth of questions that can be of great benefit to aesthetics and philosophy of art."
--Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism
"This short but flawlessly written and intricately argued book offers a profoundly challenging critique of the current state of art history. It will be essential reading in postgraduate seminars and should contribute to the revitalization of a discipline."
--Times Literary Supplement
"Thomas Crow is one of the most exacting and vigilant of art historians, never prone to following received opinions, methods, or practices. . . . The Intelligence of Art is an attempt to say more generally, but with the precision afforded by individual examples, where the discipline of art history might find promising models."
--CAA.Reviews, College Art Association
"Thomas Crow has written an instant classic of historiography, one that will refuse to stay on its shelf. It will be open on our desks, issuing continual and daunting challenges to our discipline. Crow forces us to consider the history of art history as a living history, with its rich examples of the past as current and active agents of provocation and stimulation. The book will galvanize art historians to think old questions through again and to realize their newness in that rethinking."
--Leonard Folgarait, Vanderbilt University
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