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The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art Paperback – November 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594031215
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594031212
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #990,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Roger Kimball's brilliant book sets out to repair the damage inflicted on art history...in short, a restoration project. -- Philippe de Montebello, Director, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Roger Kimball is managing editor of the New Criterion.

Customer Reviews

You have to read this book just to see what people are getting away with.
smoothsoul
He uses a fine scalpel to dissect postmodern academic art theory, and offers a witty critique that is both scathing and engaging.
C. Yearwood
Kimball is avowedly against politicizing works of art, yet much art is intensely political.
John Neagle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

158 of 176 people found the following review helpful By L. Young VINE VOICE on July 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant and scathing look at how our post-modernist art historians are engaged in the de-civilization of Western art. Kimball skewers the current trend of viewing all Western art (as well as Western literature) solely through the prism of sex, gender, and class. What results is a ludicrous but scary disfigurement of Western art.

Kimball takes seven well known paintings by seven different artists, and shows us the absurdity of those art elites in the academic world who are blinded by their politically correct madness. The chapter on John Singer Sargent's 1882 painting, "The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit" gave me belly laughs galore as leading Sargent expert Professor David M. Lubin of Wake University, subjects a painting of four upper crust little girls at the turn of the century into a critique of sexual oppression and perversion. Playing on the French version of Mr. Boit's name ( i.e. boite, meaning box) Professor Lubin contends 'the Female Child is enclosed within [an]ideological and biological box'. If this is not absurd enough, Kimball shows us how Lubin's reasoning in analyzing the painting in sexual/gender terms depends upon such things as the circumflexed 'i' in 'boite' (remember the Frenchified version of the girls' father's name) as a receptacle into which the 'i' phallus plunges. In addition the word 'boite' the good Professor tells us also means 'house of prostitution'. From this he concludes that the little girls represent the father's (remember Dad doesn't appear in Sargent's picture) harem.

One could laugh one's head off if it wasn't so frightening to consider this is what young people are subjected to in universities across America. 'Bravo' to Roger Kimball for showing us the 'Theater of the Absurd' that goes on behind those ivy covered walls. My daughter is an art major. I'll be sure to remember Mr. Kimball's book next time her university telephones asking for a charitable donation.
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118 of 131 people found the following review helpful By Gary H. Inbinder on August 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Voltaire wrote, "I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it." No doubt, the Lord has already made the "tenured radicals" of postmodern academia ridiculous, but it takes a master of ridicule, like Voltaire or Roger Kimball, to make their ridiculousness evident to the rest of us. And this Kimball does with rare wit, humor, charm, and those great enemies of the ridiculous: reason, logic, and common sense. In this book Kimball takes several masterpieces by artists as diverse as Rothko and Rubens, and then cites the critiques of these works by highly respected authorities within the postmodern academy. We then see how these postmodern "experts" totally ignore the picture itself, the historical context, the intent of the artist, and anything related to common sense observation, while launching into theoretical nonsense that does nothing more than display their own "politically correct" ideologies, psychological preferences, prejudices, and solipsistic obsessions. Thus, we see that these academic "rapists" reveal much about themselves, but nothing about the artist, or the work of art itself, which is reduced to nothing more than a backdrop to better display the "art historian's" ego, and to score points with his or her like-minded academic peers.

This book is brilliant, captivating, and delightful to read, and includes a nice color plate of each masterpiece referenced. It is a page turner, with a laugh, or at least a wry smile of recognition, on each and every page. I highly recommend it.
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72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By smoothsoul on June 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
My main reason for writing is to add my voice to the chorus of praise - and to challenge its politically correct critics. It worries me that readers might see the negative reviews and avoid this work. It's an important book, for good arts criticism is increasingly hard to find in universities, and here's why. Kimball does an excellent job of showing up what shoddy scholarship gets written in the academy nowadays. You can free associate with Lacan and Derrida - to paraphrase Camille Paglia - and get away with sheer nonsense. And as Paglia also said, they're destroying people's appreciation of beauty in the process.

It's really stunning that the writers Kimball picks on are taken seriously; but jargon and cant are the order of the day in the modern university. If you're obscure, you can get away with such nonsense. Well, not with clear and cutting thinkers like Kimball on the case. Kimball believes in art, beauty, and logical argument, and his work is searing and convincing. And as several others have pointed out, it's also incredibly funny. You have to read this book just to see what people are getting away with.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By John Neagle on September 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
During my years in art history graduate school (Columbia and Penn) I was constantly baffled by theory crazed professors and peers who were wildly enthusiastic about what I regarded as inpenetrable, ill-written, politically charged interpretations of art history. As an Americanist I was forced to read Lubin and Fried and could make no sense of their often bizarre pronouncements. I seriously began to wonder if I was simply not intellectually equipped to pursue the subject because these authors were lionized by everyone yet they were utterly incomprehensible to me.

Roger Kimball takes these authors (one can hardly call them scholars) to task by citing some of their oddest statements about well known painters and their masterpieces. All of this is prefaced by his own sane, common sense historical approach to these same works of art. So I love the book, but not without certain reservations.

The book (dare I say "text") is more appropriate for the average educated person than the professional art historian. Kimball relies heavily on satire and ridicule because, as he states openly in his introduction, the ideas he criticizes are so outlandish that they ought not be honored with a serious, point by point refutation. This approach at times becomes empty and heavyhanded, and one gets the impression that the author is merely showing us how clever he is with words, which he very certainly is.

Kimball, weened on Clement Greenberg and Hilton Kramer style formalism (both critics that he quotes approvingly), tends to look at complex paintings with a "what you see is what you get" stance.
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The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art
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