In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Books 341 lent at the time of their production is a valuable step in the development of art history and criticism that could have important consequences. The large format of this well designed book is more attractive than usual academic publications. An interesting aspect of the layout is the way in which the many illustrations are concentrated on special pages grouped together, avoiding the spotty effect that occurs when they are scattered throughout the text. The lengthy article on the Piazzale Augusto Imperatore in Rome, for example, has 52 illustrations on 33 pages, mostly in groups of four or six so the references to them in the text are nearby. Art History and Class Struggle. Nicos Hadjinicolaou. (Pub. in French in 1973). Louise Asmal, trans. Pluto Press, London, 1978.206 pp., illus. Reviewed by Gerhard Charles Rump* This little book must have had sustained interest to be printed later in an English version. The original was published as part of a sociology series, and it is, indeed, 'in a general wayan argument on behalf of a sociological approach to the history of art. The author presents a specific theory of art history derived from a general theory of history that is based on the concept of historical materialism.' This quotation from Edward R. De Zurko's review of the French edition [Art Bulletin 56, 466 (1974)] is the best possible characterization of the work. The author was stimulated to write this book while studying the history of art both in the Federal Republic of Germany and in France, as he discerned a crisis in the teaching of art history at university level, largely identical with the apolitical and 'art for art's sake'-type of approach very widely practised in these countries. He does not want to steer a rigidly dogmatic course but hopes to provide a basis for a more 'scientific' approach to art history. One learns that 'the work is intended for politically committed people as well as for open-minded art historians', and it is devoted 'to the theory and practice of the discipline of art history, and not to aesthetics' (p. 6). The author's main point is that the production of images is an aspect of class ideology and that the history of art is, above all, a history of class struggle. He thus gives a universal application to the famous statement from Marx-Engels' Manifesto that 'the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles' (p. 7). He then sets out to define a number of important terms (such as class and ideology), but sometimes he is not precise enough in doing so (see De Zurko, above). Some of the major prevailing approaches to art history are criticized: the Art History as a History of Artists, the Art History as Part of History of Civilisations and as Part of the History of Ideas, and the Art History as a History of Works of Art. To prevent the common over-simplification of terms (especially Marxist terms), he has inserted a chapter on Vulgar Marxism before actually presenting his view of art history as a history of class struggle. He is anxious to point out that 'the artist's personal political ideology (which does not emerge from his work, or at least does not necessarily do so, but can be seen in his political activity and attitude to political events) must not be confused with the political ideology of some of the paintings ... with a political character that he produces' (p. 87). Style is seen as visual Ideology (pp. 95 ff.), and ideology itself is the most central issue. Ideology is defined as 'in itself not scientific. It is the expression of man's relation to his world. It consists of the real and the imaginary, and it comprises ... intangibles .... The function of ideology ... isto constitute an imaginative resolution of the contradictions of reality. Its source is in the social structure but it is an internal agency shared by individuals with varying degrees of coherence ' (see De Zurko, above). Most important are chapters 13and 14:Positive Visual Ideology and Critical Visual Ideology. Positive visualideology isfound inart when other contemporary ideology is supported...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
pp. 341-342
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.