Synopses & Reviews
"What is art? Is that art?" At the end of the twentieth century, these questions continue to provoke and to bedevil discussion. The uncertainty that prompts them can be productive for artists, who may thrive on such a state of tension. Yet uncertainty can also shade into the suspiciousness with which many people approach the work of those artists.
Reasonable questions deserve articulate answers, and Julian Bell provides them in this lucid, straightforward, and often challenging book. In the process he offers an incisive guide to artistic thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and to the complexities of contemporary theory. Among the many fields of activity covered by the word "art, " Bell, himself a painter, focuses on "flat things" -- the paintings that modern theories seek to explain. The questions he addresses include:
-- What is painting? Does anything unite these objects we call paintings?
-- What happened to the idea of representation in "modern art"? What has caused the vast changes in painting over the last two centuries?
-- What does the ancient practice of painting amount to in today's world at the turn of the twenty-first century?
Bell writes with a wide-ranging curiosity about what other painters have produced in the last two hundred years, giving fresh accounts of the most influential works and introducing many painters who may lie outside fashionable canons. What Is Painting? is a book for everyone interested in making sense of modern art and of the cultural debates it provokes.
This text by Julian Bell, himself a painter, confronts the uncertainty and suspicion many people feel about art today. It sets out to challenge received ideas while addressing questions such as what is it that defines paintings?; and what does the practice amount to at the turn of the 21st century?
A study and explanation of modern art and the nature of painting
Includes bibliographical references (p. 241-250) and index.
Table of Contents
Images and marks -- Sight and knowledge -- Form and time -- Expression -- The word art -- Representation.