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Books 249 who would pay several thousand pounds for a plasticreplica of the first as a fool who is best parted from his money. I am of the view that representationalpaintingsof real objects and sceneslosttheir importancewhenphotography,especiallyin colour,wasdeveloped to makesuchpictures.But photographers canonlycapturethehere-and-now;painterscanmakedepictions of the past and of the future, a flatteringportrait of a Duchess and a picture of a nonexistent unicorn. That theancientGreeksr e a l i i that art need not be figurative is illustratedby Pliny’s story of Apelles goingto Rhodes to visit Protogenes. Protogenes was away, so the Athenian artist left a messageconsistingof a singlelinetoindicatehehad called.When Protogenes returned, he recognized who had drawn the line, drew a second one within the edges of the first, and told his servantto giveit to Apelleswith thewords‘Thisisthe person for whom you wereenquiring’.Apelles, on his following unsuccessful visit left after drawing another line within the second one. When Protogenes returned and saw this third line, he confessed himself outmastered. Someof thenon-traditionalapproachestopaintingseentoday have been tried before. CorneliusKetel, a Dutch painter from Gouda, who visited London in 1573 and finally settled in Amsterdam, used his bare hands and his feet to apply paint [l]. Alexander Cozens, a Russian landscape painter who chiefly practised as a drawing master in London, used a technique, perhaps based upon a hint of Leonard0 da Vinci, consisting of dropping blobs of paint onto a piece of paper in a random fashion[2].Although someof hiseffortswerepleasingto the eye, they were said to be best viewed through a darkcoloured lens! The above points cast serious doubt on Gablik’s argument that contemporary art represents, in terms of Piaget’s observation of an ordered development of sensory awareness in children, a peak of artistic perfection beyond which further ‘evolution’ is unimaginable. An analogy between Piaget’s observation and the temporalsuccession of visualart workscan certainlybe drawn,but it iswell known that analogiesshouldbe treated with caution. References 1. C. Ketel, in The Percy Anecdotes, Vol. 8, The Fine Arts; under Finger Painter, p. 355 of The Chandos Classics Verbatim Reprint (London: Frederick Warne, 1870). 2. A. Cozens,cf. Ref. 1 under Chance Sketching,p. 380. American Art. John Wilmerding. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth,England,and Baltimore,Maryland, 1976.332 pp.. illus. €16.00; $40.00. Reviewed by LeCrace Benson’ Thereis a need for a book on the historyof art in the USA. that combines sound scholarship with lively writing. There is no reasonwhy a wellconceivedbook cannotmeet the needsof both beginningstudentsand generalreaders.Sucha book would offer somethingmore than factsand correct writing.An outstanding work in art history,and there are many, should be informed, in thestrictestsenseof that word,by unifiedconceptsofhistory and of art. In certain classics of the field, Panofsky’s Early Netherlandish Pointing. for example,the view of history and the view of art are resonantly unified. Used as texts for college classrooms, such works help to produce an intellectual climate for students that is truly humanistic. Perhapsit is the changein book publishingof the last decade that has led to the proliferationof look-alike,read-alike books, all aimed at the same vast audience in the U.S.A. of first and second year studentsin socalled surveycoursesthat ridiculously purport to give students the ‘grand sweep of history’. ‘Housemaid’shistory’ might be a more apt term. A shift from scholarship, literary values and, at the very least, pedagogical validity as prime criteria to profitability as the chief goal has resultedina veritablesupermarketofsimilartextsforpredictable courses, stacked side by sidein college bookstoreslike so many boxes of competingcornflakes. Only the raucous packages are different. *C/OEmpire State College, Northeast Learning Center, 135 Western Ave., Albany, NY 12203, U.S.A. Regrettably,sincethere issucha deepneed forsomethingelse, Wilmerding’s American Art unexceptionally exemplifies the current practice. It lacks a unified and distinctivepoint of view towardeitherhistoryor art, much lessthe two together.Opinion abounds throughout, but not a point of view. It is point of view that gives the selection‘of a few items from the innumerable available items, the few facts, the few esthetic concepts some coherence-some ‘common sense’. Lacking point of view, this version of art in the USA. is something like the old grandmother’scrazyquiltof fascinatingbits and pieces too good to throw...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
pp. 249-250
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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