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Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars Hardcover – October 16, 2012


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Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars + Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson + Sex, Art, and American Culture: Essays
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; F First Edition edition (October 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375424601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375424601
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


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Customer Reviews

It is well written yet easy for the lay reader to understand.
Terrell Atwood
Paglia asserts that great art creates dynamic, "glittering" images that draw the viewer in and captivate him or her.
GirlScoutDad
I find the book interesting and one that I go back to look at and read again as I have time.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 78 people found the following review helpful By James on October 16, 2012
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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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Gary Griffiths VINE VOICE on 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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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By GirlScoutDad on 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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