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But Is It Art?: An Introduction to Art Theory Paperback – April 4, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"I know of no work that moves so swiftly and with so sure a footing through the battle zones of art and society today."--Arthur C. Danto
"Profoundly refreshing and satisfying.... Freeland's energetic and engaging voice breezily guides the reader, while employing an astonishing array of examples to illuminate and activate her explications."--Don Bacigalupi, Director, San Diego Museum of Art
"A vibrant study of a complex and contentious field of artistic endeavor and enquiry.... Lucid and thought-provoking."--Murray Smith, University of Kent
"Freeland provides a unique and inclusive view of the past by discussing it from the vantage point of contemporary art."--Lucy R. Lippard, author of Mixed Blessings: New Art in a Multicultural America
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Top Customer Reviews
I found myself disappointed with the book in a number of ways, and I'll discuss a couple of them here. First, the author has discussed theory by means of examples, and her choices of artists like Goya and Bacon work well, but some of her other choices (Bill Viola, for example) give the book a somewhat dated feel. A second, more significant disappointment, is the author's discussion of museums. A number of her comments seem uninformed and (in one case regarding the Getty) even snarky. The tone of her writing undermines her discussion of important questions such as how museums should balance the goal of showing worthwhile works with the goal of showing works by a representative group of artists. There is a lot of real-world compromise required to get lenders and donors on board so that exhibitions happen, and lenders, donors and exhibition organizers are, in fact, wrestling with these issues daily.
Overall, the book is a good introduction to a number of theories about art, and perhaps it would work as one of the texts to be used in a high school or college survey class. However, anyone with a serious interest in art will be left wanting something more satisfying on a number of levels.
Freeland, whose academic background shows a bit in her "I'm going to show you how this/Now here's me showing you this" chapter formatting, still manages to be flexible enough to weave multiple approaches into the discussion of just a handful of works drawn from a wide spectrum of styles and periods. She juggles Kant and Hume and Freud in the same breath as Mapplethorpe, Goya, and fetish sculptures from the Kongo, and does it all in a clear, concise style.
Scholars in the field will find nothing for them here -clearly, a 200 page primer is going to offer samples and simplifications rather than deep insights - but for those interested in exploring new ground (or trying to remember what it looks like more than a decade after taking a very rushed guided tour!), Freeland's book is an excellent starting point.
In the end the book left me feeling with a need for more, that she attempted to fill so much information and ideas into such a small book without truly fleshing out the ideas behind them.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In the question she poses as the title of her book, Freeland reveals her desire to speak directly to everyday viewers perplexed by what they see in museums and galleries. Read morePublished 1 month ago by HH
Good book! I used it as a reference book in AP art class.Published 7 months ago by Victoria Wreden-Sadeq
Cynthia Freeland, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Houston, came out with But is it Art? in 2001. Read morePublished 9 months ago by BassoProfundo
One of the best books I ever read! Combines two things I love, reading and art. Very well written.Published 11 months ago by Robyn R. Frid
This book explores key philosophical perspectives of diverse art genres and periods. Highly recommend for anyone wanting to explore.Published 13 months ago by b