‘The real revolution is internal … the most effective action is molecular.’ (Herbert Read, ‘Anarchism Past and Present’, 1947)
This chapter looks at anarchist-related ideas of mutualism and nonhierarchy with an eye on what kind of arthistory has and could in future be written using such principles. There is a particular focus on the work of Herbert Read, not only as a well-known figure in our discipline but as a public intellectual who shaped postwar anarchist writing beyond arthistory, criticism and poetry. In the main, anarchist inflections
‘the miracle of that hesitant immobility’
(Henri Focillon, The Life of Forms in Art , 1934)
Ecological concerns have traditionally been so little addressed in the art historical canon that even their absence has rarely been noted. 1 One might have imagined that since Enlightenment regimes started to visualise global systems (a project that culminates in ‘whole Earth’ ideologies and ‘blue planet’ photographs from space) more areas within arthistory might have had something to say about the ecological dimensions – the deep time, even – of
‘On the surface of the globe, for living matter in general, energy is always in excess.’ (Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share , 1949)
The kinds of ecologically orientated arthistory we have so far reviewed converge around no singular ideological position. This chapter is equally promiscuous in its discussion of at best only loosely connected ecocritical contributions (from technical arthistory and environmental aesthetics to land art and eco-aesthetics), with the difference that materiality, ecology and the environment lie in plain sight. What
‘Man is animal; man is plant and flower; In him slumbers the beast, in him lives mimosa-like softness … this flight of appearances involves a change of methods’. (Alexander Blok, ‘The Decline of Humanism’, 1921)
It seems axiomatic that arthistory is, and could only ever be, a humanities discipline. But could it soon grow into a posthumanities practice? After all, as McKenzie Wark observes: ‘All of the interesting and useful movements in the humanities since the late twentieth century have critiqued and dissented from the theologies of the human
Artists’ Printed Portraits and Manuscript Biographies in Rylands English MS 60
Rylands English MS 60, compiled for the Spencer family in the eighteenth century, contains 130 printed portraits of early modern artists gathered from diverse sources and mounted in two albums: 76 portraits in the first volume, which is devoted to northern European artists, and 54 in the second volume, containing Italian and French painters. Both albums of this ‘Collection of Engravings of Portraits of Painters’ were initially planned to include a written biography of each artist copied from the few sources available in English at the time, but that part of the project was abandoned. This article relates English MS 60 to shifting practices of picturing art history. It examines the rise of printed artists’ portraits, tracing the divergent histories of the genre south and north of the Alps, and explores how biographical approaches to the history of art were being replaced, in the eighteenth century, by the development of illustrated texts about art.
In this part, I draw in a number of earlier moments and contributions in the discipline to what could start to become the constituent parts of a proto-history of ‘Ecocritical ArtHistory’. 1 In three chapters I look at these earlier ecologically tempered art historical contributions in the space that Guattari termed ‘Psyche’. I then widen my focus to re-examine a whole series of themes from arthistory, including the work done within ecofeminism, Marxist and queer theory, which, in their diverse ways, offer nonhierarchical
As the title of his chapter indicates, Swiss art historian and media theorist Beat Wyss suggests that specific technologies correspond to certain modes of cultural thought. According to media theorist Vilém Flusser, the invention of writing in the middle of the second millennium BCE and the invention of the technical image, i.e. photography, in the middle of the nineteenth century are to be considered the major cultural factors in media history. Wyss uses the analogy of a finer, ‘halftone mesh’ to bring into focus the economic, social, religious, political and artistic changes that occurred through the advent of the printing press, especially engraving, the medium of the book and reproducible images.
This unique anthology presents thirty-two texts on contemporary prints and printmaking written from the mid-1980s to the present. The essays range from academic art history to popular art criticism and creative writing; taken together, they form a critical topography of printmaking today. The book’s four sections provide: A genealogy of printmaking and print culture; A sample of debates on contemporary printmaking, beginning with Ruth Weisberg’s influential ‘The syntax of print’ (1986); A range of critical terms and themes; Examples of some of the major spheres of print activity, such as production, collecting, dissemination, education and research Drawing on a cast of distinguished scholars, artists and curators, the book makes available a selection of widely dispersed and difficult-to-find texts. This includes extracts from works not yet available in English, such as Die Welt als T-Shirt (1997) by Beat Wyss and La Ressemblance par contact (2008) by Georges Didi-Huberman. There are also contributions from scholar and book artist Johanna Drucker, mathematician and computer artist Frieder Nake, curators Daniel F. Herrmann, Gill Saunders and Mari Carmen Ramírez, and the editors of the award-winning website Printeresting. Featuring an overall introduction by the editor, as well as introductions to each of the sections, the anthology is aimed at an audience of international stakeholders in the field of contemporary prints, printmaking and print media, ranging from art students and practising artists to museum curators, critics, educationalists and scholars. It provides the basis for an expansion of the debate in the field and a starting point for further research.
The Gothic is haunted by the ghost of William Blake. Scholars of the Gothic have long recognised Blake’s affinity with the genre, often invoking his name, characters, and images in passing. Yet, to date, no major scholarly study focused on Blake’s intersection with the Gothic exists. William Blake’s gothic imagination seeks to redress this disconnect and, in the words of another ghost, to lend a serious hearing to a dimension of Blake’s work we all somehow know to be vital and yet remains understudied. The essays here collected do not simply identify Blake’s Gothic conventions but, thanks to recent scholarship on affect, psychology, and embodiment in Gothic studies, reach deeper into the tissue of anxieties that take confused form through this notoriously nebulous historical, aesthetic, and narrative mode. The collection opens with papers touching on literary form, history, lineation, and narrative in Blake’s work, establishing contact with major topics in Gothic studies. The volume, however, eventually narrows its focus to Blake’s bloody, nervous bodies, through which he explores various kinds of Gothic horror related to reproduction, anatomy, sexuality, affect, and materiality. Rather than his transcendent images, this collection attends to Blake’s ‘dark visions of torment’. Drawing on the recent interest in Gothic studies on visual arts, this volume also highlights Blake’s engravings and paintings, productions that in both style and content suggest a rich, underexplored archive of Gothic invention. This collection will appeal to students of Romanticism, the Gothic, art history, media/mediation studies, popular mythography, and adaptation studies.
Many people in the West can recognise an image of Mao Zedong (1894–1976) and know
that he was an important Chinese leader, but few appreciate the breadth and
depth of his political and cultural significance. Fewer still know what the
Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966–76) was, or understand the extent of its
influence on art in the West or in China today. This anthology, which is the
first of its kind, contends that Maoism and the Chinese Cultural Revolution were
dominant cultural and political forces in the second half of the twentieth
century – and that they continue to exert influence, globally, right up to the
present. In particular, the book claims that the Chinese Cultural Revolution
deserves a more prominent place in twentieth-century art history. Exploring the
dimensions of Mao’s cultural influence through case studies, and delineating the
core of his aesthetic programme, in both the East and the West, constitute the
heart of this project. While being rooted in the tradition of social art history
and history, the essays, which have been written by an international community
of scholars, foreground a distinctively multidisciplinary approach. Collectively
they account for local, regional and national differences in the reception,
adoption and dissemination of – or resistance to – Maoist aesthetics.