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Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars [Kindle Edition]

Camille Paglia
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.95
Kindle Price: $11.84
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Book Description

WIth full-color illustrations throughout

From the best-selling author of Sexual Personae and Break, Blow, Burn and one of our most acclaimed cultural critics, here is an enthralling journey through Western art’s defining moments, from the ancient Egyptian tomb of Queen Nefertari to George Lucas’s volcano planet duel in Revenge of the Sith.

America’s premier intellectual provocateur returns to the subject that brought her fame, the great themes of Western art. Passionately argued, brilliantly written, and filled with Paglia’s trademark audacity, Glittering Images takes us on a tour through more than two dozen seminal images, some famous and some obscure or unknown—paintings, sculptures, architectural styles, performance pieces, and digital art that have defined and transformed our visual world. She combines close analysis with background information that situates each artist and image within its historical context—from the stone idols of the Cyclades to an elegant French rococo interior to Jackson Pollock’s abstract Green Silver to Renée Cox’s daring performance piece Chillin’ with Liberty. And in a stunning conclusion, she declares that the avant-garde tradition is dead and that digital pioneer George Lucas is the world’s greatest living artist. Written with energy, erudition, and wit, Glittering Images is destined to change the way we think about our high-tech visual environment.




From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“Daring…. Beautifully written and rich in details…. A unique mixture of political candor, professional critique, gossipy details, and the author’s trademark inflammatory ideas…. Supports her assertion that the definition of art is already changed. It begs the question, ‘Has anyone else in the art world noticed?’…. Extols the value and enduring legacy of Star Wars as it stands at the forefront of a new definition—a new era—in fine art.” —iFanGirlBlog

“[Paglia is] an art-for-art's-sake worshiper of art and literature whose close readings, influenced by Walter Pater and Sigmund Freud, are pyrotechnic and passionate.... Particularly pleasing are Paglia's sketches on Donatello's still-shocking 15th century sculpture of Mary Magdalene as a starved ascetic, and on Titian's voluptuously sensual ‘Venus With a Mirror’ (c. 1555), two nearly diametrically opposed works that Paglia makes speak to each other by noting curiously androgynous elements in both figures…. The relentlessly austere Caspar David Friedrich's ‘The Sea of Ice’ (1823-24)...is juxtaposed in surprising fashion by the following image, Manet's 1879 ‘At the Cafe,’ a subtle study of ordinary Paris street life. The paintings, as well as the artists and their eras, thereby achieve a collage-like mutual illumination.”
San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Paglia's scintillating prose, acute analysis and perceptive assessments of five millennia of art history make her tour a joy to take, to argue about and to learn from…. A perceptive and enthusiastic guide on this journey to see and experience fully works of art from ancient Egypt to today.”
—Shelf Awareness
 
“It is her prose, jargon-free, muscular, and fearlessly opinionated, that ought to grab readers of any age. Once pulled into the Grand Foyer for her tour through the centuries, the reader is in complete thrall to the masterpieces on view. Paglia opens with an essay about the murals of Nefertari's tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Queens, and right out of the gate—make that grave—her interdisciplinary command of history, archaeology, and even cinema is evident…. [Paglia has] an honesty and enthusiasm that, when wedded to a profound intellect, one can't put a price on.”
The Barnes & Noble Review

“The book's subtitle—‘A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars’—highlights Ms. Paglia's impressive range and famously eclectic tastes. . . . Ms. Paglia chooses well, from works both celebrated and obscure. She is especially good at the difficult trick of providing context for the newcomer to art history without being tedious for a more experienced reader. She is no dreary docent. . . . She is also adept at helping readers to see the radical original impulse in now familiar art forms.”
The Wall Street Journal

“A magisterial, poetically composed, and masterly study of 29 great works of Western art. . . . Paglia writes rhapsodically of art's power . . . [she is] one of the most erudite public intellectuals in America.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer

“The ever-provocative Paglia returns with a survey of Western art, captured in 24 essays that move from Egyptian tombs to Titian’s Venus with a Mirror to Eleanor Antin’s conceptual art project 100 Boots. The provocative part? In the end, she proclaims that the avant-garde is dead and that George Lucas is our greatest living artist. This will get the smart folks talking.”
—Library Journal

“[A] highly reflective and imaginative history of images in Western art. . . . Paglia writes with energetic lucidity, and her entries on the Laocoön and Donatello’s Mary Magdalene are standouts in this absorbing volume. Both a valuable cultural critique and an elucidating history, Paglia’s latest would suit the general reader, as well as those looking for an alternative approach to contemporary ways of seeing.”
Publishers Weekly
 
“Critic/provocateur Paglia applies to the visual arts the same close scrutiny she lavished on poetry in Break, Blow, Burn (2005). . . . An intelligently detailed examination of 29 works of art, ranging from a tomb painting of Egyptian Queen Nefertari to George Lucas’ film Revenge of the Sith. . . . The author cogently locates individual pieces within a cultural continuum and eloquently spotlights the artistic qualities that make them unique. . . . Paglia gives a vivid sense of the sweep and scope of art history. The author loves pop art (Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych), but sections on Eleanor Antin’s 100 Boots and Walter De Maria’s Lightning Field display a surprising fondness for conceptualism and minimalism as well. African-American artists get their due in essays on John Wesley Hardrick’s sensitive portrait, Xenia Goodloe, and Renee Cox’s witty Chillin’ with Liberty. . . . Paglia is a wonderful popularizer of art history and art appreciation.”
Kirkus Reviews
 
“Paglia, an ardent and often controversial defender of the arts and creative freedom, argued for the value of poetry in Break, Blow, Burn (2005). She now presents an equally commanding case for reclaiming the visual arts as a necessary and nurturing cultural force in a time of alarmingly diminished support for arts education. Given our ‘screen’ habit, we are awash in a ‘sea of images,’ mostly commercial in origin, that threatens to drown our ability to focus and think critically. The best way to regain our visual acuity, Paglia believes, is to focus on paintings, sculpture, and the decorative arts within art’s rich continuum. So this interdisciplinary firebrand and die-hard populist showcases 29 outstanding works, each representative of a certain style or period, beginning with a tomb painting of Queen Nefertari and working up to Andy Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe. Paglia’s succinct, lively, and illuminating essays combine aesthetics and social considerations ad she recalibrates our perception of, say, Renaissance artist Donatello’s ‘harsh and imposing’ depiction of Mary Magdalene, or Jamaican performance artist Renee Cox’s Chillin’ with Liberty. The book’s climax is Paglia’s bound-to-be-inflammatory assertion that filmmaker George Lucas is ‘the world’s greatest artist.’ Paglia’s bold and rigorous, handsomely illustrated and welcoming art iconography will accomplish her mission to provoke, enlighten, and inspire..”
Booklist, starred review

About the Author

Camille Paglia is University Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She is the author of Break, Blow, Burn; Sexual Personae; Sex, Art, and American Culture; and Vamps & Tramps. She has also written The Birds, a study of Alfred Hitchcock.


Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
76 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice, idiosyncratic handbook on the visual arts October 16, 2012
By James
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The first thing to be said about Camille Paglia's latest is that the hardcover edition is beautifully produced, printed on high-quality glossy pages, including vibrant full-color reproductions of the artworks she has chosen to discuss. Assuming there is a forthcoming paperback edition, there is a great chance the publisher will choose black-and-white versions - I would highly recommend going for this edition. The heavy pages fall easily open for the reader, and the book has a nice weight to it. The simple, striking cover evokes both Egypt and the desert planet of Tatooine in the Star Wars universe.

Paglia's stated aim here is to provide a kind of handbook for the educated everyday reader who is thirsty for more knowledge of the great sweep of Western art. Paglia has selected twenty-nine exemplary works for consideration, beginning in ancient Egypt and taking us right up to George Lucas's Revenge of the Sith. Paglia's great strength as a public intellectual has always been that she sees no distinction between high and low art, and this allows her to seriously consider a filmmaker like Lucas, in her view the dominant major artist of the last three decades. Her deliberate, carefully crafted prose (she spent five years on this volume) is reminiscent of the glittering words of Oscar Wilde, a lush, highly visual style. Paglia takes her pedagogical mission seriously, and her writing is designed to draw curious the reader into an ecstatic state of contemplation regarding the great works.

This book is not a definitive, all-encompassing survey of art history. Paglia has chosen a small number of works, some canonical, and some of them highly idiosyncratic selections.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We Must Relearn How to See" October 28, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Modern life is a sea of images" begins Camille Paglia's arresting "Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars," an ambitious collection of essays through the author's selection of Western art's defining moments. A daunting task indeed; capturing the majesty and impact of three millennia of art in a single thin volume is akin to conveying to a landlocked Kansas farmer the vast power and fury and expanse of the oceans in a single tea cup. Yet Paglia succeeds, contrary to the title, not so much on the strength of images themselves as in the authority and dominion of her soaring prose. Organized in a series of twenty-nine thought-provoking essays spanning human culture from the tomb paintings of Queen Nefertari ("ghosts carved out of time"), the author marches through time and styles and multiple visual medias to a surprising closing, declaring George Lucas "the greatest artist of our time:"

Paglia, always controversial, the classic fierce liberal, perhaps last of a dying breed of progressive thinkers who can separate politics from culture and ideology from anthropology. Here is a practical and principled firebrand whose views were cast in 1960's rebellion; beliefs of free speech and anti-establishment - an individualist who looks with distain at the contradictions of today's elite academic progressives who passively embrace the bloated, autocratic bureaucracies that Paglia and her peers fought so valiantly to dissolve. This background is important, for the author makes a passionate case for public funding of visual arts with a logic and pragmatism not typically associated with this community.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Eye is Drawn to "Glittering Images" February 27, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Surveying 5,000 years of Western art, in 188 pages, selecting 29 images. Well, that is quite a challenge. But Paglia, through her keen eye and breadth of scholarship succeeds admirably and the result is a visual and intellectual joyride. The captivating images chosen for discussion invoke powerful themes of love, sex, power, death, dehumanization, affluence, poverty, piety, nature, and the afterlife. The mind is enriched and awareness is changed and enhanced through intelligent contemplation of these powerful works. I love art history essays; they're such an admixture of topics from technique, to aesthetics, to the history and politics of the era, to philosophical issues such as our place and purpose in the universe. All these themes are pithily and wittily discussed by Paglia. In her essay titled "The Race", on the bronze sculpture of the Charioteer of Delphi of 475 B.C., she observes with perspicacity, "The Greeks defined existence as a struggle or contest (agon) that tested and built character. To strive to be the best was a moral duty. Life was a perpetual game or race, with little hope of rest."

The introductory essay might be the keenest part of the entire book. Paglia asserts that great art creates dynamic, "glittering" images that draw the viewer in and captivate him or her. For thousands of years of western art, sculpture and painting -- through action, color, and composition -- dominated the world of art, but these media are now out-competed - in a nearly Darwinian sense - by even more dynamic, glittering computer-enhanced graphics and big-screen cinematography.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not-so-glittering Images
I liked the concept, which I understood to be an art history picture book for beginners. The book shows a full-page photo, then has anywhere from 3-7 pages of text describing what... Read more
Published 2 months ago by A Reader
3.0 out of 5 stars Slanted critique
A read of very strong bias towards art and religion. Camille exposes her atheist side. Without that, great historical information about the ones she chose to critique.
Published 3 months ago by Iowician1234
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Collection of Ideas
Although I have just recently received the book I have had a chance to peruse and read excerpts from it. It is going to be a great read. Read more
Published 7 months ago by JD
4.0 out of 5 stars A Unique and Creative Perspective on Art
Camille Paglia is a wonderful communicator who has distilled art history from ancient Egypt through modernity. Clear, concise prose. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Louis E. Silver
2.0 out of 5 stars Uneven and Disappointing
After hearing Paglia talk about her new work on one of my favorite podcasts, I had high hopes that this book would help me--an art history novice--gain a new understanding and... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dan Royles
5.0 out of 5 stars A Keeper
I find the book interesting and one that I go back to look at and read again as I have time.
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars a successful gift
I bought this as a gift for my daughter-in-law. She was delighted with the pictures and the quality of the text
Published 9 months ago by Richard Jenkins
1.0 out of 5 stars A shallow book, without insight or depth
A big disappointment -- there is nothing here that any competent art historian couldn't have written. Just a bunch of slightly-more-than-blurbs about a lot of art works. Read more
Published 9 months ago by T. W. Pope
5.0 out of 5 stars There's nobody like Paglia...
Camille Paglia is a unique voice out of the early feminist movement. She doesn't hew to the party lines (and therefore has parted ways with other giants like Steinem and Friedan),... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Passenger on the Titanic
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Perfect, But Pretty Darn Good
I don't care for most "Modern Art" once you move beyond van Gogh and Picasso. On a recent trip to NYC, I was going to skip the Guggenheim until I learned that both of these artists... Read more
Published 13 months ago by J. Holly
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Why would someone buy the Kindle edition of this, rather than the...
This is a very good question; I'm wondering if the Kindle edition has any pictures at all, and, if so, their quality.
Nov 13, 2012 by M. Allen Greenbaum |  See all 2 posts
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