on 23 June 2012
If you're interested in evolutionary psychology and the arts, this is the book for you. Well written, intelligent and informative,
with various implications for understanding the origins and function of arts practice in societies. Plenty of implications to
chew on and digest - likely to cause controversy. I don't see the reasoning in a couple of places, but I read this as a library book,
then bought the paperback - because I see it as a key text in my research area. See also 'The Moral Animal' by Robert Wright,
'The Third Chimpanzee' by Jared Diamond, 'The Mating Mind' by Geoffrey Miller and 'The Red Queen'
by Matt Ridley.
on 17 August 2009
For the most part I liked this book. Especially I liked the way he developed the idea that art can be considered from the view point of Darwinism and that it plays a part in sexual selection. One interesting idea is that the original purpose of story telling around the campfires of our ancestors was to pass on information. This can still be seen in modern novels.
On the other hand he seems to think that paintings should represent what we see in the world. Real art is composed of landscapes, people or bowls of fruit. A painting that does not represent natural objects is not really art. Some modern art may be quite ugly and disgusting such as the author suggests of the "Fountain" by Duchamp which is actually a urinal.
But there are some very lovely paintings and sculptures that don't represent a natural objection. I was very unhappy with his treatment of Richard Bach and Jonathan Seagull. Maybe this may not be high art but it is a lovely story. For this reason, I gave the book only 4 stars while it might have deserved 5 if the author had been kinder to modern artists.
on 28 July 2009
The book is too long, but I liked it.
But just today I got hold of very old book, published in 1900, written by Yrjö Hirn and called The Origins of Art, A psychological and sociological inquiry and while reading it I had really strong deja vu: basically Dutton's book was already written in 1900. ;>