86 of 90 people found the following review helpful
A nice, idiosyncratic handbook on the visual arts,
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This review is from: Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars (Hardcover)
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. The Idols of the Cyclades, the Laocoon, The Book of Kells, Titian's Venus With A Mirror, Caspar David Friedrich's The Sea of Ice, Pollock's Green Silver, Antin's 100 Boots, Renee Cox's Chillin' with Liberty - these are a few examples of Paglia's range here.
If you have found yourself infuriated by Paglia in the past (I do not count myself in this group), I recommend taking a second look at her and her work. We should treasure a serious, deeply erudite intellectual who takes the time to speak to the general public. In our distracted, media-saturated times, we need her pugnaciousness, as well as her call to contemplation.