Art as Culture: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Art

By Evelyn Payne Hatcher | Go to book overview
1. the physical environment within which the artist works,
2. the medium in which the craftsman works, his materials and techniques,
3. the personality of the artist and his role in society,
4. the uses and functions of the art froms in the society,
5. the nature of the visual language the artists use,
6. the visual forms to which the artist has been exposed in the history of his own people and those with whom they have been in contact, and
7. the nature of the esthetic canons by which the creative process is guided and judged.

How all this works is not very well understood, so we are dealing with a variety of explanations and theories that have been put forth and which have illuminated the nature of art in certain instances. I shall try to summarize these various insights, with examples as to how they apply. I do not see any necessity of adopting any of these positions as ultimate Truth. They all add to our understanding. Some seem to be more applicable in certain ways at certain times, but it is not impossible that all these factors can operate to some degree in all creative situations.

Every artifact was made in a specific environment, of certain materials with specific tools and techniques; the maker or makers had their own personalities and motivations, and they operated within the context of a society; the art form is related to others in time and space; each says something; and every artifact has some degree of esthetic worth, depending on the criteria applied to it.


Further Reading

The works mentioned at the end of each chapter have been selected from the bibliography as being useful and accessible as starting places for fuller exploration of the topic in that chapter. The following are general works:

Anderson 1979; Biebuyuk 1969; Boas 1927; Forge 1973; Jopling 1971; Maquet 1971; Otten 1971.

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