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Visual Literacy

by James Elkins

|October 18, 2007

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What does it mean to be visually literate? Does it mean different things in the arts and the sciences? In the West, in Asia, or in developing nations? If we all need to become "visually literate," what does that mean in practical terms? The essays gathered here…

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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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In this bracing engagement with the many versions of art history, James Elkins argues that the story of modernism and postmodernism is almost always told in terms of four narratives. Works of art are either seen as modern or postmodern, or praised for their…

What Painting Is

by James Elkins

|November 23, 2004

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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…

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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With bracing clarity, James Elkins explores why images are taken to be more intricate and hard to describe in the twentieth century than they had been in any previous century. Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles? uses three models to understand the kinds of complex…

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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…

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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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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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This is a guidebook for art students at the college level (BA, BFA, MFA, PhD). Compared to other books on critique, this book is more colorful, more engaging, and less formal. "James Elkins is one of the world's leading educators in the visual arts. In Art…

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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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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…