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Believing is Seeing: Creating the Culture of Art Paperback – 30 Mar 1995

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Believing is Seeing: Creating the Culture of Art + But Is It Art?: An Introduction to Art Theory + Modern Art 1851-1929: Capitalism and Representation (Oxford History of Art)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (30 Mar 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140168249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140168242
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 2.4 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 417,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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This is a book about Art, what is not Art, and how things come to have meaning and value. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Rebecca Janes on 3 Feb 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an eye opener, mostly pictures with some text, gives an easy to read introduction to what is sometimes a very overly wordy subject. A must buy for all art students!!!!
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Amazon.com: 12 reviews
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
An Interesting Counterpoint to Traditional Art History 1 Aug 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Mary Anne Staniszewski's "Believing is Seeing" is a clearly written, carefully illustrated, thought provoking overview of the meaning of "Art". Distilled from introductory lectures on contemporary art, culture and critical theory delivered at the Rhode Island School of Design more than a decade ago, "Believing is Seeing" provides a useful counterpoint to mainstream art history texts by challenging traditional, transhistorical views of aesthetic value.
Appropriately subtitled "Creating the Culture of Art", Staniszewski's book demonstrates that Art is something "that has a specific history and belongs to a particular era." What our culture generally calls "Art" is an invention of the past two hundred years. Thus, modern culture has appropriated the paintings, frescoes, sculptures, and artifacts of earlier times and cultures (where they had historically specific meanings) and labelled them "Art". Modern culture applies this label even though the original creators of these representations and objects would not have regarded their creations as Art in the way we commonly use the term.
The task of defining and identifying Art in contemporary Western society is largely a function of the institutional structures--the museums, galleries, auction houses, and publications--that create the culture of Art. In this way, Marcel Duchamp can mount a urinal on a pedestal and this plumbing fixture becomes "Art", acquires meaning and value, through validation by these institutional arbiters of the Art world. Rejecting essentialism, Staniszewski argues that aesthetic value and meaning are socially constructed, the products of a particular historical moment and culture. As individuals, we may not consider Duchamp's urinal anything more than that--a urinal--but that does not obviate the fact that cultural institutions have conferred (rightly or wrongly) some greater meaning (and value) on the object.
"Believing is Seeing" is not an important book; it is a book which, like its thesis, is the product of a particular historical moment and culture. It is, however, full of provocative and challenging ideas about how culture creates meaning and value. And for this reason alone, it is worth careful reading.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Post-modernism finally nakes sense! 31 Mar 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
From Michelangelo to Madonna, when it comes to making sense of art, Staniszewski explains it all.

Whether you are a student or just someone perplexed by the money, attitudes, or direction that the art world takes, I could not recommend a more readable yet comprehensive beginning.

Over half of the well-designed book is a panorama of cleverly chosen pictures, but the text is a clear and simply put construction of contemporary ideas of art history.
A term that is especially bandied about these days like a crowbar is post-modernism, but without much explanation. After reading this book, I am now a true believer (and hopefully a truer see-er).

It has been hard to keep this book out of the hands of friends. I may have to order a case to give out as gifts!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good, but leaving you wanting for more. 30 Nov 2010
By SouthernGothic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a basic book, nothing overly challenging here. The concept is well explained in general terms, but then repeated far too much in the manner that there was nothing else to say yet imprudently it continues. At points I was saying to myself "get on already".
The text assumes you have a knowledge of art history while the illustrations hold your hand on the way through.
The amount of text is slim with general statements and no real depth. The illustrations are plentiful. The result is like a powerpoint presentation in book form.

Is it worth a read? Well, yes it is. The ideas contained within are worth exploring and understanding. Personally I agree with most of the concept.

I am glad I bought it used and not at the full price.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Refreshing take on Art 1 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
First of all, I find that most of the reviews of this book are one star because the readers didnt agree with Staniszewski's ideas, however they ignored how well written this book is. She takes the way we typically view "art" and shows us how fraudulent it is. In doing so she challenges not only are view of art, but also our view of the world around us. Even if you dont like her ideas its no reason not to acknowledge the intelligence with which she has written this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
art theory 101 2 Jan 2012
By photoart - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
basic info, fast and easy to read. If you have not had any art history/theory is a good beginning. Not what I thought it'd be.
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