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indigoJames Elkins


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Unlike many books on painting that usually talk about art or painters, James Elkins' compelling and original work focuses on alchemy, for like the alchemist, the painter seeks to transform and be transformed by the medium. In What Painting Is , James Elkins…

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Can contemporary art say anything about spirituality? John Updike calls modern art "a religion assembled from the fragments of our daily life," but does that mean that contemporary art is spiritual? What might it mean to say that the art you make expresses your…

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Each of the five volumes in the Stone Art Theory Institutes series, and the seminars on which they are based, brings together a range of scholars who are not always directly familiar with one another’s work. The outcome of each of these convergences is an…

Partisan Canons

by Anna Brzyski

|September 17, 2007

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Whether it is being studied or critiqued, the art canon is usually understood as an authoritative list of important works and artists. This collection breaks with the idea of a singular, transcendent canon. Through provocative case studies, it demonstrates that…

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Our Beautiful, Dry, and Distant Texts examines art historical writing as an expressive medium, capable of emotion and reflection - and therefore deserving of serious consideration for its own sake, as the testament of art history and of individual historians.…

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Each of the five volumes in the Stone Art Theory Institutes series, and the seminars on which they are based, brings together a range of scholars who are not always directly familiar with one another’s work. The outcome of each of these convergences is an…

Visual Cultures

by James Elkins

|April 27, 2011

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Visual Cultures is the first study of the place of visuality and literacy in specific nations around the world, and includes authoritative, insightful essays on the value accorded to the visual and the verbal in Japan, Poland, China, Russia, Ireland, and…

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In What Photography Is , James Elkins examines the strange and alluring power of photography in the same provocative and evocative manner as he explored oil painting in his best-selling What Painting Is . In the course of an extended imaginary dialogue with…

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In this innovative, interdisciplinary study, James Elkins argues against the assumption that images can be adequately described in words. In his view, words must always fail because pictures possess a residue of 'meaningless' marks that cannot be apprehended as…

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Renaissance Theory presents an animated conversation among art historians about the optimal ways of conceptualizing Renaissance art, and the links between Renaissance art and contemporary art and theory. This is the first discussion of its kind, involving not…

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Art criticism is spurned by universities, but widely produced and read. It is seldom theorized and its history has hardly been investigated. The State of Art Criticism presents an international conversation among art historians and critics that considers the…

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In his latest book, James Elkins offers a road map through the field of visual studies, describing its major concerns and its principal theoretical sources. Then, with the skill and insight that have marked his successful books on art and visuality, Elkins takes…