Books on art history

Discussion on literature other than by the Star of Azazel.
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Heith
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Books on art history

Postby Heith » Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:24 pm

I came across "The Melencolia manifesto" by David Finkelstein and am almost certain the author has been mentioned by someone (obnoxion?) in previous conversations. Is someone familiar with this book and if so, would you recommend it? I am certainly considering purchasing this.
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Re: Books on art history

Postby obnoxion » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:10 pm

Heith wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:24 pm
I came across "The Melencolia manifesto" by David Finkelstein and am almost certain the author has been mentioned by someone (obnoxion?) in previous conversations. Is someone familiar with this book and if so, would you recommend it? I am certainly considering purchasing this.
I don't think I've known of this one before, but it does sound interesting. By the way, the cheapest price I found for this 60 pages book was about 36€, so I would be quite glad to read a review before purchasing.

David Finkelstein being a physicist reminds me how a strict students of the natural sciences can make excellent writers on art. I adore Helen Vendler's books on poetry (if someone is interested, try to ones on Shakespeare's Sonnets and Emily Dickinson), and she used to study chemistry.
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.
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Heith
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Re: Books on art history

Postby Heith » Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:05 pm

I did leaf through a preview on the Melencolia manifesto, but reading long texts from a screen has never been my forte and I too was keen to get an opinion whether or not it is worth the money. If I end up getting it I'll be happy to give you my commentary on it.

I actually have a book to recommend which I am fairly certain would interest you obnoxion and possibly others who browse our forum as well. I might have mentioned this before, but it's too good to miss.

The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion by Leo Steinberg is a goldmine. I have Omoksha to thank for finding this book for so can't take all of the credit here; it has been a very valuable read to me.
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Re: Books on art history

Postby Kavi » Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:44 pm

Heith wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:05 pm
The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion by Leo Steinberg is a goldmine. I have Omoksha to thank for finding this book for so can't take all of the credit here; it has been a very valuable read to me.
Jesus this sounds interesting!

I'd like to suggest books too, but I guess art history isn't something I know that well.
7&8
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Re: Books on art history

Postby obnoxion » Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:51 pm

Kavi wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:44 pm
Heith wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:05 pm
The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion by Leo Steinberg is a goldmine. I have Omoksha to thank for finding this book for so can't take all of the credit here; it has been a very valuable read to me.
Jesus this sounds interesting!
I have that book, and it is as interesting as it sounds! I have not read it through yet, but it aims to explain numerous patterned instances where Christ's genitalia is pointed at or grasped by in Renaissance Art.
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.
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Re: Books on art history

Postby obnoxion » Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:27 pm

Lately I've been obsessing about sources to David Lynch's work. So I bought this little book from 1923 called "The Art Spirit". It is writen by the painter Robert Henri, and I've read that young Lynch was very attached to this book back in his art student days. I've often read this book being described as little more than a curio for Lynch-enthusiasts, and that it has little relevance for today.

But the book proved to be delightfully timeless. It is almost a book of aphorisms and poems in prose. What ever page you open, it is always full of stuff like this:

"Paint like a fiend when the idea possesses you"

"Gesture and music are alike in that they have powers of extension beyond known measurements."

"I have no sympathy with the belief that art is the restricted province of those who paint, sculpt, make music and verse. I hope we will come to an understanding that the material used is only incidental, that there is artist in every man; and that to him the possibility of development and of expression and the happiness of creation is as much a right and as much a duty to himself, as to any of those who work in the especially ticketed ways."

"Old Walt Whitman, to his last days, was as a child in the gentleness and the fullness of his fancy. A few flowers on his window-sill were enough to arouse in him the pleasantest sensations and the most prophetic philosophy."

"I sometimes wonder what my own work would have been if I could as a child have heard Wagner's music, played by great musicians. I am sure the rythm of it would have influenced my own work for all time. If in addition to this great universal rhythm, I could have been surrounded by such art as Michelangelo's frescos in the Sistine Chapel, where he paints neither religion nor paganism, but that third estate which Ibsen suggests "is greater than what we know"; if these things had been my environment, I feel that a greater freedom of understanding and sympathy would have come to me. Freedom is indeed the great sign which should be written on the brow of all childhood."
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.
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Re: Books on art history

Postby obnoxion » Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:31 am

Here are three little reviws on art books that are likely of interest:

William Chapman Sharpe:
"Grasping Shadows: The Dark Side of Literature, Painting, Photography and Film" (Oxford University Press, 2017; 420 pages)

This is simply a stunning study of the shadow. It is a hardpack with that shiny quality paper, and it instantly brings to mind a university class textbook. It is profusely illustrated, and all the picures are in colour.

The book argues that shadow images are produced through the overlap of visual and verbal meanings in the shared cultural field. There is a rough divide of shadow into four aspects: The Vital Shadow, The Look-Elsewhere Shadow, The Completing Shadow and The Independent Shadow.

I suspect this is a topic that would interest most readers of our forum. It is a fascinating and smooth read, and at the same time it teaches advanced visual literacy.


Peg Weiss:
"Kandinsky and Old Russia: The Artist as Ethnographer and Shaman" (Yale University, 1995; 291pages).

When I was a teenager, Kandisky's (1866 - 1944) famous abstract expressionist paintings gave me a headache. Since then, he has become one of my favourite artists. He has been such a huge champion of spirituality in modern art that his importance is difficult to over-estimate. Much of his mature genius is due to enriched imagination he gained by diving deep into the ethnographic Russia of his times, which included Finland.

Again we have a glossy hardpack with beautiful illustrations on practically every opening of the book. And in addition to Kadinsky's work, we get loads of photographs of shamans and their sacred items, especially the drums.

This is such deep dive into art and shamanism, and yet it is such an effortless read. As the previous book, this really is also advanced visual literacy without tears.


Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker & Gian Casper Bott (eds.):
"Seance: Albert von Keller and the Occult" (Frye Art Museum, 2010; 104 pages)


We are speaking of an art museum publication, so this is a quality art book. Albert von Keller (1844 - 1920) was a swiss-born artist that can be connected to Symbolist painters. He was tremendously interested in Mediumistic phenomena, like seances and the concept of "the witches' sleep" (the latter means a trance like state that the Devil bestows on devoted witches while they are being burnt alive, to shelter them from the pain). He also painted beautiful female crucifixions.

The book includes old photographs of mediumistic phenomenon. I think von Keller captures the subtle aesthetics of the outward visual appearence of the mediumistic experience in such perceptive way, that he convays deep cuts into the soul that manage to be both raw and empathic at the same time. One gets the impression that regardless of what was going on in a given seance, the compositions, the atmospheres, the facial expressions and body positions were rich with meaning that easily escapes the mundane hastiness. The facade of the seance alone is deep with subtle value, and needs little other justification in the art of von Keller
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.

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