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The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art Paperback – November 1, 2005
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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.
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A much needed and I fear to little heeded warning about what is happening in all areas of education and society in general. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Kimball very well exposes the PC kidnappers of art.Published 6 months ago by Howard C. Mayberry, Jr.
I really liked the book. Since my first language it's not English, it was quite hard to understand it at the beginning, but it is sooo interesting and amusing. I've learned a lot. Read morePublished 10 months ago by maria
Kimball is concise, percipient, and enriching; the intellectual antithesis of the critics he spotlights. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Christopher Ott
A book harkening back to one of the main reasons we have books: To highlight errors while social/oral culture amplifies them. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Ron
Great book loved it. Had to read it for a class and I don't regret beefing made to read it.Published 22 months ago by Mary Ann Swan
The worst development in the halls of academia since I was a student has been the ascendency of deconstruction, post-modern relativity, and political correctitude. Read morePublished on July 15, 2014 by R. M. Peterson
Excellent writer. Clear and concise essays on seven different masterpieces and how current academia is using art to further their own political thinking. Read morePublished on December 20, 2013 by Kate
Well written; well researched and provides a much-needed response to so much of what we find in galleries and large, spacious, light and airy museum hallways which contain... Read morePublished on September 8, 2013 by MidwestMom