The Social History of Art - Vol. 3

The Social History of Art - Vol. 3

The Social History of Art - Vol. 3

The Social History of Art - Vol. 3

Synopsis

First published in 1951 Arnold Hausers commanding work presents an account of the development and meaning of art from its origins in the Stone Age through to the Film Age. Exploring the interaction between art and society, Hauser effectively details social and historical movements and sketches the frameworks in which visual art is produced.This new edition provides an excellent introduction to the work of Arnold Hauser. In his general introduction to The Social History of Art, Jonathan Harris asseses the importance of the work for contemporary art history and visual culture. In addition, an introduction to each volume provides a synopsis of Hausers narrative and serves as a critical guide to the text, identifying major themes, trends and arguments.

Excerpt

Arnold Hauser's The Social History of Art first appeared in 1951, published in two volumes by Routledge and Kegan Paul. The text is over 500,000 words in length and presents an account of the development and meaning of art from its origins in the Stone Age to the 'Film Age' of Hauser's own time. Since its publication, Hauser's history has been reprinted often, testament to its continuing popularity around the world over nearly a half-century. From the early 1960s the study has been reprinted six times in a four-volume series, most recently in 1995. In the period since the Second World War the discipline of art history has grown and diversified remarkably, both in terms of the definition and extent of its chosen objects of study, and its range of operative theories and methods of description, analyses and evaluation. Hauser's account, from one reading clear in its affiliation to Marxist principles of historical and social understanding-the centrality of class and class struggle, the social and cultural role of ideologies, and the determining influence of modes of economic production on art-appeared at a moment when academic art history was still, in Britain at least, an élite and narrow concern, limited to a handful of university departments. Though Hauser's intellectual background was thoroughly soaked in mid-European socio-cultural scholarship of a high order, only a relatively small portion of which was associated directly with Marxist or neo-Marxist perspectives, The Social History of Art arrived with the Cold War and its reputation quickly, and inevitably, suffered within the general backlash against political and intellectual Marxism which persisted within mainstream British and American society and culture until at least the 1960s and the birth of the so-called New Left. At this juncture, its first 'moment of reception', Hauser's study,

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