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European eighteenth-century discourse saw the advent of two concepts, which have been central to our understanding of man’s relationship to the world and himself ever since: the proclamation of the autonomous artwork and the stigmatization of un-enlightened attitudes towards reality as ›fetishistic‹. The book argues that this is not a coincidence. Thus, it explores the discourse on and the phenomenon of fetishism in its major historical manifestations in ethnology, religious philosophy, social and economic theory, and finally psychoanalysis from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. Particular interest is paid to the metaphorical transfer of the veil motif between images and text, including the comparison of both media in the history of aesthetics from Lessing over Kant, Hegel and Nietzsche up to Benjamin and Warburg. The history of modern art thus appears as a revision of a teleology that implies an evolutionary escape of man from its fetishistic beginnings.
Confessions* of a Male Chauvinist Pig
2013, (ed.) Ex. cat. Riverside: California Museum of Photography
Confessions* of a Male Chauvinist Pig, a collection of essays written in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name at the California Museum of Photography, reconsiders Garry Winograd’s book project Women Are Beautiful (1975). Women Are Beautiful is a set of 85 photographs culled from the hundreds Winogrand shot of women in public places between 1964 and 1973. Initially bearing the controversial subtitle “Observations of a Male Chauvinist Pig,” Winogrand’s book struggled to find a publisher and then withered in the light of feminist critique once it appeared. Confessions* aims to reorganize the photographs into a critical exhibition that places the project in the context of the turbulent 1960s, at the nexus of gender relations buffeted by the conflicting terms of the sexual revolution and the women’s movement, particularly in light of the consumption of women in media images.
Similitudo: Concepts of Likeness in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
2012, Fink Wilhelm GmbH
“Similitudo” discusses the role of realism and likeness in different media and time periods, from the 14th to the 17th century, with a particular emphasis on its relevance for the arts, philosophy, and the psychology of perception.”
Review in Renaissance Quarterly:
Reviewed work(s): Martin Gaier, Jeanette Kohl, and Alberto Saviello, eds. Similitudo: Konzepte der Ähnlichkeit in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit. Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2012.
“The paradigm of resemblance (similitudo in Latin) offers one mode for the assessment of visual images. Yet as a discrete concept, it is too infrequently the subject of examination, relegated as it is to one aspect of the larger discussions of portraiture, scientific illustration, or art theory. The threats of similitude as a broader topic of art-historical inquiry are clear: in its subjectivity and ephemerality, resemblance is volatile and changeable, that is, contingent. The current volume of essays, one product of the German research project The Power of Faces: The Bust, the Head, and the Body in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (2006–09), marks an important step in the historiography of the concept, for it takes this thorny issue as its central theme. The book ventures beyond the simple comparison of model and image to posit new understandings of likeness informed by the perspectives of philosophers like Charles Sanders Peirce and Hans-Georg Gadamer. This conceptual framework, which motivates many of the contributions, makes Similitudo a welcome addition to the literature on image theory. Read More →
En Face. Seven Essays on the Human Face
This thematic issue of the German art history journal kritische berichte gathers analytical approaches to the ‘phenomenon face’ from different disciplines: neurophysiology, philosophy of the body, cultural history, surgery, medieval history, and the history of art. In their contributions, the authors examine the face as medium and material, as mise-en-scene and matter, as mirror and membrane, producer and recipient – as a cultural construction and a human determinant. The essays are spurred by their author’s profound involvement with the questions: WHAT IS A FACE? What did and what does it mean, culturally, socially, psychologically, physiologically, aesthetically, historically? What might it look like in the future? What are our assumptions about what a face represents, what it means to lose one’s face, or live with someone else’s face. Often enough, we think of faces as identities. But, what does a face tell about ‘us’ – individually, culturally, and as a species? Perception and imagination, the belief in images and image making, they all overlap in the face. The book’s trans-disciplinary approach is a first step toward a cultural history of the face. It includes essays by Jean-Claude Schmitt, Bernard Andrieu, Sigrid Weigel, Georges Didi-Huberman, Claudia Schmoelders, Jonathan Cole, and an interview with the facial surgeon Rainer Schmelzeisen.
Art by the Book: Painting Manuals and the Leisure Life in Late Ming China
2012, University of Washington Press
Sometime before 1579, Zhou Lujing, a professional writer living in a bustling commercial town in southeastern China, published a series of lavishly illustrated books, which constituted the first multigenre painting manuals in Chinese history. Their popularity was immediate and their contents and format were widely reprinted and disseminated in a number of contemporary publications. Focusing on Zhou’s work,Art by the Book describes how such publications accommodated the cultural taste and demands of the general public, and shows how painting manuals functioned as a form in which everything from icons of popular culture to graphic or literary cliche was presented to both gratify and shape the sensibilities of a growing reading public. As a special commodity of early modern China, when cultural standing was measured by a person’s command of literati taste and lore, painting manuals provided nonelite readers with a device for enhancing social capital.
J. P. Park builds on important recent research on social status, economic development, and print publishing in late imperial China to show how a world of social meaning is evident in the literary subgenre of painting manuals, and provides insight into the links between art history, print culture, and social history.