Mr. Collier's Letter Racks: A Tale of Art and Illusion at the Threshold of the Modern Information Age by Dror WahrmanMr. Collier's Letter Racks: A Tale of Art and Illusion at the Threshold of the Modern Information Age by Dror Wahrman

Mr. Collier's Letter Racks: A Tale of Art and Illusion at the Threshold of the Modern Information…

byDror Wahrman

Hardcover | August 22, 2012

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Three hundred years ago, an unprecedented explosion in inexpensive, disposable print - newspapers, pamphlets, informational publications, artistic prints - ushered in a media revolution that forever changed our relationship to information. One unusually perceptive man, an obscure Dutch/Englishstill life painter named Edward Collier, understood the full significance of these momentous changes and embedded in his work secret warnings about the inescapable slippages between author and print, meaning and text, viewer and canvas, perception and reality. Working around 1700, Collier has been neglected, even forgotten, precisely because his secret messages have never been noticed, let alone understood. Until now. In Mr. Collier's Letter Racks, Dror Wahrman recovers the tale of an extraordinary illusionist artist who engaged in a wholly original waywith a major transformation of his generation. Wahrman shows how Collier developed a secret language within his illusionist paintings - replete with minutely coded messages, witty games, intricate allusions, and private jokes - to draw attention to the potential and the pitfalls of this newinformation age. A remarkably shrewd and prescient commentator on the changes unfolding around him, not least the advent of a new kind of politics following the Glorious Revolution, Collier performed a post-modernist critique of modernity long before the modern age. His trompe l'oeil paintings arefilled with seemingly disconnected, enigmatic objects - letters, seals, texts of speeches, magnifying glasses, title pages - and with teasingly significant details that require the viewer to lean in and peer closely. Wahrman does just that, taking on the role of detective/cultural historian tounravel the layers of deceptions contained within Collier's extraordinary paintings. Written with passionate enthusiasm and including more than 70 color illustrations, Mr. Collier's Letter Racks is a spell-binding feat of cultural history, illuminating not only the work of an eccentric genius but the media revolution of his period, the birth of modern politics, and the nature of artitself.

About The Author

Dror Wahrman is Ruth N. Halls Professor of History at Indiana University and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of The Making of the Modern Self and of Imagining the Middle Class.

Details & Specs

Title:Mr. Collier's Letter Racks: A Tale of Art and Illusion at the Threshold of the Modern Information…Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:August 22, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199738866

ISBN - 13:9780199738861

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Print 2.0 c. 1700: A Modern Media Regime2. Life not Still3. The Nature of Print4. Marking Time5. Monarchy in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction6. Eye Con7. A Man with an Impossible Temper8. Tom, Dick, and Henry9. The Collier Club10. Death of the Author?11. C is for Charles12. Which Revolution? Or the Memory of Mr. Lory13. A Signature Gone WildEpilogueNotes