An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body by Hans BeltingAn Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body by Hans Belting

An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body

byHans Belting

Paperback | July 21, 2014

Pricing and Purchase Info

$37.42 online 
$38.99 list price
Earn 187 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


In this groundbreaking book, renowned art historian Hans Belting proposes a new anthropological theory for interpreting human picture making. Rather than focus exclusively on pictures as they are embodied in various media such as painting, sculpture, or photography, he links pictures to our mental images and therefore our bodies. The body is understood as a "living medium" that produces, perceives, or remembers images that are different from the images we encounter through handmade or technical pictures. Refusing to reduce images to their material embodiment yet acknowledging the importance of the historical media in which images are manifested, An Anthropology of Images presents a challenging and provocative new account of what pictures are and how they function.

The book demonstrates these ideas with a series of compelling case studies, ranging from Dante's picture theory to post-photography. One chapter explores the tension between image and medium in two "media of the body," the coat of arms and the portrait painting. Another, central chapter looks at the relationship between image and death, tracing picture production, including the first use of the mask, to early funerary rituals in which pictures served to represent the missing bodies of the dead. Pictures were tools to re-embody the deceased, to make them present again, a fact that offers a surprising clue to the riddle of presence and absence in most pictures and that reveals a genealogy of pictures obscured by Platonic picture theory.

Hans Belting has held chairs in art history at the universities of Heidelberg and Munich and has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Columbia, and Northwestern. He also cofounded and taught at the School for New Media in Karlsruhe, Germany. His many books include Likeness and Presence, The End of the History of Art?, The Invisible M...
Title:An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, BodyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:216 pages, 9.25 × 6 × 0.01 inPublished:July 21, 2014Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691160961

ISBN - 13:9780691160962

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

A New Introduction for the English Reader 1
Chapter 1: An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body 9
Chapter 2: The Locus of Images: The Living Body 37
Chapter 3: The Coat of Arms and the Portrait: Two Media of the Body 62
Chapter 4: Image and Death: Embodiment in Early Cultures 84
Chapter 5: Media and Bodies: Dante's Shadows and Greenaway's TV 125
Chapter 6: The Transparency of the Medium: The Photographic Image 144
Notes 169
Bibliography 189
Index 199

Editorial Reviews

"Highly original and provocative, An Anthropology of Images is integral to today's contentious debates about the nature, history, and domain of images. The book's insights ripple far across the field of art history."-Michael Leja, University of Pennsylvania