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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a history of neuroarthistory, 11 Feb 2008
A. Beeton "adamblue" (UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Neuroarthistory: From Aristotle and Pliny to Baxandall and Zeki (Hardcover)
slightly disappointing for this is, as Onians states in his preface, but a rather longer preface to his next two books which will create a neuroarthistory trilogy. This is then the precursor, which lays the long tradition to which Onians belongs, the lineage that starts with Aristotle at number 1 and ends with Semir Zeki at number 25, (although as he points out his wife should be at number 26.)

The format of the book is based on Eric Fernies Art History and its Methods - but lacking the anthology, chapters vary between a Dan Brown-esque two and a half pages to a more substantial 12 pages as he begins to sink his teeth into the subject matter - which are the neuroarthistorians from antiquity to the present. It begins interesting and informative with Aristotle and then leading on to Pliny the Elder, Appollonius of Tyana and al-Haytham - which is rather good, from Leonardo onwards things get a bit flabby and by Ruskin you are racing towards the end. Things liven up considerably when we bump into old favourites like Gombrich and Baxandall and then we end up with Zeki. The end (true to life) comes suddenly and expectantly and one wonders where the autobiographical sketch is of the author. But alas modesty prevents this - and hence another disappointment- we don't get to analyse Onians' neurons and his own brain - the most interesting, engaging, and inspiring of all the neuroarthistorians.
I must confess that despite having studied with the man himself, and allegedly being a neuroarthistorian I found the concept of this book a bit hard to fathom, it is a history of neuroarthistory, and it relies on the old Zeki statment that "all artists are neurologists" - if all artists are neurologists then all art historians must be neuroarthistorians...this is what this book is about - the neuroarthistorians before neuroarthistory...

All-in-all this is essential reading for the budding neurohistorians out there, but quite a short book.
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Neuroarthistory: From Aristotle and Pliny to Baxandall and Zeki
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