Still Life (Big Art) Paperback – 25 Jul 2003
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How do the objects in a still life reflect the customs, ideas and aspirations of the time? This is one of the questions which Schneider asks in this volume.
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The thought that someone might paint a painting for the purpose of painting a painting or for the joy it gives or for art's sake or whatever you want to call it does not occur to the author. Instead, he "analyzes" every aspect of art through his political sciences glasses, with tiresome repetitive jargon in Marxist theory style. Example, from pg. 39: "While market stalls illustrate the commercialization of agriculture and the principle of agro-economic production, kitchen and pantry paintings are dominated by the aspect of satisfying the needs of domestic economy, usually in a feudal or re-feudalized upper middle class household." (Yes, we are talking about Dutch genre paintings here.)
There is very little discussion of the art itself (as art, not in relation to the means of production etc. etc.), and one never gets the impression that the author has a clear idea of what goes into actually making a painting. (Of course, that is hardly unique; I suspect many art historians have never held a brush or a drawing pencil in their hand.)
By all means, buy this for the beautiful art, but read the text only if you must.