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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.
Freeland asks in the first chapter, "Why has blood been used in so much art?" (p. 1). The journey involved in answering this and the question of the book's title is more Freeland's point than arriving at definitive conclusions. The first chapter and each subsequent one become models for the reader regarding how theory might provide an organizing framework for making sense of art. In trying to figure out why blood has been a recurring motif not only in contemporary art, but also in the art of the past, Freeland deftly guides the reader in applying ritual theory, formalism, and expressionism. Since the questions she poses are not resolved in chapter one, Freeland's whole book becomes a "virtual tour" through the history, institutions, politics, paradigms, and cultural contexts that make up and bring meaning to the world of art. Art theory serves as Freeland's tour guide.
Toward the end, Freeland reveals that she concurs with John Dewey's cognitive theory of art in answering the title question -- that is, artists use art to express thoughts and ideas to an audience. She further agrees with Arthur Danto that these thoughts are conveyed within a context, which is the art world.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Had to have this book for "Intro to the Arts" class as a required class for my BSN. While I do not understand much about the Arts, this book is helpful for the class.Published 2 months ago by Dreama Sigler
A great book by an even better professor. I had the privilege of reading the text as an assigned book in my Philosophy of Art course taught by Dr. Freeland when I was in college. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Katherine D.
I am learning art for the first time, by reading this book, it gives the history of art and how some artistes choose the type of art that they like and how it fit into their... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Good book! I used it as a reference book in AP art class.Published 14 months ago by Victoria Wreden-Sadeq
I had this book for about two years. After moving to another country I was able to pick up this book. But a quick read in a few days, it left me wanting for more. Read morePublished 14 months ago by charlie brown
Cynthia Freeland, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Houston, came out with But is it Art? in 2001. Read morePublished 16 months ago by CLS-LRS