The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society

By Linda Nochlin | Go to book overview

Introduction

Any attempt on the part of an art historian to deal with the issue of art and politics must first engage with the politics of art history itself. And this politics, of course, has a history, which is replicated in the career of any single practitioner in the field. In this sense, every art-historical Bildungsroman is, in microcosm, a social history of art history, and deserves examination, however cursory, in terms of the paradigms within which, or--more rarely--against which, new art-historical writing is inevitably formulated.

In my own case, starting out in the field at Vassar and New York University's Institute of Fine Arts in the late forties and early fifties, the dominant paradigm was formalism, manifested, in the case of the art history of the nineteenth and twentieth century, in the triumph of Modernism. At the Institute, Walter Friedländer, then in his eighties, taught me nineteenth-century art, and his echt-formalist David to Delacroix ( Wölfflin recycled for the early nineteenth century, even then a revered classic) served as our text. Although issues of subject matter were touched on, serious studies of the content of painting and sculpture were reserved for earlier periods, where such investigations were isolated under the heading of iconography. Modern art, by definition, it would seem, was iconography-free: indeed, in its most simplistic formulation, the whole point of the Modernist effort, from Manet on, was to rid art of its encumbering subject matter, leaving the production of meaning--understood

-xii-

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The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vi
  • Acknowledgments x
  • Introduction xii
  • Notes xxiii
  • 1- The Invention of the Avant-Garde: France, 1830-1880 1
  • Notes 17
  • 2- Courbet, Oller, and a Sense Of Place: the Regional, The Provincial, and the Picturesque In 19th-Century Art 19
  • Notes 32
  • 3- The Imaginary Orient 33
  • Notes 57
  • 4- Camille Pissarro: The Unassuming Eye 60
  • Notes 74
  • 5- Manet's Masked Ball at the Opera 75
  • Notes 92
  • 6- Van Gogh, Renouard, And The Weavers' Crisis in Lyons 95
  • 7- Léon Frédéric And The Stages of a Worker's Life 120
  • Notes 139
  • 8- Degas and the Dreyfus Affair: A Portrait of the Artist As an Anti-Semite. 141
  • Notes 164
  • 9- Seurat's La Grande Jatte: An Anti-Utopian Allegory 170
  • Notes 190
  • Index 194
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