The Preference for the Primitive: Episodes in the History of Western Taste and Art

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9780714841540: The Preference for the Primitive: Episodes in the History of Western Taste and Art

This long-awaited book is a study of a recurring phenomenon in the history of Western art, namely the feeling that older and less sophisticated (i.e. 'primitive') works of art are somehow superior to later and more refined ones. In a closely argued and richly documented narrative Professor Gombrich traces the history of the debates on this subject from classical antiquity to the radical primitivism of modern times, attempting at the same time to provide a psychological explanation of the phenomenon.

This book is a documentary study of a recurring phenomenon in the history of changing taste in the visual arts, namely the feeling that older and less sophisticated (i.e. 'primitive') works are somehow morally and aesthetically superior to later works that have become refined, soft and decadent. Gombrich traces the existence of such feelings right back to classical antiquity, and he links them with a crucial psychological observation made by Cicero to the effect that over-indulgence of the senses leads to a feeling of disgust. He also demonstrates the importance of the profoundly influential metaphor, first articulated in antiquity and taken over by Vasari, that compares the history of art to the growth of an organism: like a living organism, art is born and grows to maturity (and therefore perfection), then decays and finally dies. Successive generations of artists and critics, believing the art of their own time to be past maturity, have interpreted the smooth refinement and sensual appeal of contemporary works as symptoms of decline and corruption, and have come to admire earlier works, despite their 'immaturity', as possessing superior qualities of sincerity, innocence and ruggedstrength. With the advent of modernism at the turn of the twentieth century this admiration took a radically regressive new twist as artists turned their backs on tradition altogether and found inspiration in the art of exotic cultures and in the works of children and the insane.

Summing up more than forty years of study and reflection, the book presents a closely argued narrative supported by extensive quotation of key passages that document with precision the role of authors, critics and artists in shaping and changing opinion. After reviewing the classical authors whose writings largely set the terms of the debate, Gombrich then charts its progress from its revival in the eighteenth century, documenting the often subtle shifts of taste and judgement that frequently focus on the pivotal role of Raphael as a touchstone in the history of taste. In the final chapters he turns to the truly revolutionary primitivism of the twentieth century, to much of which he has himself been an eyewitness.

Important both as a personal testament and as a documentary anthology, this long-awaited new book from one of the world's most distinguished art historians provides a deep and revealing insight into the history and psychology of taste.

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About the Author:

Among E. H. GOMBRICH's many writings are the international bestsellers "The Story of Art "and "Art and Illusion," He was director of the Warburg Institute of the University of London from 1959 to 1976.

Review:

'The great strength of this book is its historical sweep ... of interest to specialists and general readers alike.' (Colin Rhodes, Loughborough University, The Burlington Magazine) 'A masterpiece of skilful discourse.' (Nigel Spivey, The Daily Telegraph) 'Gombrich is as usual masterly and vastly erudite.' (Martin Gayford, The Sunday Telegraph) 'Gombrich brings his massive learning to bear on a very interesting set of questions.' (The Spectator) 'Gombrich remains a giant of art history who tried to demystify the processes by which art is made. If Winckelmann yearned for 'noble simplicity' in art, and if Wackenroder preached 'pious simplicity', then Gombrich can be regarded as the High Priest of 'rational simplicity'.' (James Hall, Times Literary Supplement) 'Throughout, Gombrich's account is supported by his easy familiarity with the writings of philosophers and aestheticians, of anthropologists and psychologists, but in the end what gives his approach such a rich tension is the fact that he remained fundamentally and unfashionably committed to the idea that an increase in mimetic skill represented a form of progress, and that the term primitive did not need to be hedged about with guilt-wracked inverted commas.' (Apollo) 'Has there been an individual who could match Gombrich's gargantuan grasp of classical sources, the sheer scope of his reading? No ... The Preference for the Primitive ... is lively and can be assimilated by artists, art historians and general readers alike.' (Modern Painters) 'The book is a remarkable one, demonstrating in full measure Gombrich's extraordinary erudition ... acts as a convenient summary of many of the themes and issues to which he devoted a long and exceptionally distinguished career.' (Charles Saumarez Smith, Director, National Gallery, London, Literary Review) 'Take(s) on just about the weightiest and most controversial subject currently available for art-historical picking-over. For Gombrich to delay until his final book before taking on the appetite for perfectionism is akin to Michelangelo waiting until he was 92 before embarking upon the Sistine ceiling.' (Waldemar Januszczak, The Sunday Times) 'The Preference for the Primitive deserves a place within any art library, completing the life's work of an important twentieth century writer.' (Art Documentation) 'Gombrich narrates these enchanting chapters in the history of taste with his usual clarity and ear for the eloquent quotation.' (The New Republic) 'Over the last half century we have come to expect from Gombrich work of extensive and detailed scholarship, nuanced, balanced, and rich in insight. This, his final work, upholds the standard he set ... This work is a final treasure for all interested in art and the history of ideas.' (Religious Studies Review)

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Leonie Gombrich, Ernst H. Gombrich
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Descrizione libro Phaidon Press Ltd, United Kingdom, 2002. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. This monumental book - the last to be completed by the author - is a study of a recurring phenomenon in the history of changing taste in the visual arts: the feeling that older and less sophisticated (i.e. primitive ) works are somehow morally and aesthetically superior to later works that are perceived as comparatively soft and decadent. In his first narrative work for over two decades, Professor Gombrich traces this fundamental idea back to Classical Antiquity, where he links it both with Cicero s observation that over-indulgence of the senses leads to a feeling of disgust, and with the profoundly influential metaphor comparing the development of art to that of a living organism. Like an organism, art grows to maturity then decays and dies: successive generations of artists and critics have preferred the strength, nobility and sincerity of earlier styles to the more refined later styles with their corrupting and meretricious appeal to the senses.After reviewing the Classical authors whose writings largely set the terms of the debate, Gombrich then charts its progress since its revival in the eighteenth century, documenting the often subtle shifts of taste and judgement that frequently focus on the pivotal role of Raphael. In the final chapters, he turns to the truly revolutionary primitivism of the twentieth century, analysing the momentous shifts of taste before which he was himself an eyewitness. Assimilating more than 40 years of study and reflection on this theme, the book presents a vividly argued narrative, supported by extensive quotations that document with acute precision the role of authors, critics and artists in shaping and changing opinion. Principal and pioneering both as a personal testament and as a documentary anthology, this long-anticipated book provides a deep and revealing insight into the history and psychology of taste. Codice libro della libreria AA99780714841540

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Leonie Gombrich
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Descrizione libro Phaidon Press Ltd, United Kingdom, 2002. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. This monumental book - the last to be completed by the author - is a study of a recurring phenomenon in the history of changing taste in the visual arts: the feeling that older and less sophisticated (i.e. primitive ) works are somehow morally and aesthetically superior to later works that are perceived as comparatively soft and decadent. In his first narrative work for over two decades, Professor Gombrich traces this fundamental idea back to Classical Antiquity, where he links it both with Cicero s observation that over-indulgence of the senses leads to a feeling of disgust, and with the profoundly influential metaphor comparing the development of art to that of a living organism. Like an organism, art grows to maturity then decays and dies: successive generations of artists and critics have preferred the strength, nobility and sincerity of earlier styles to the more refined later styles with their corrupting and meretricious appeal to the senses. After reviewing the Classical authors whose writings largely set the terms of the debate, Gombrich then charts its progress since its revival in the eighteenth century, documenting the often subtle shifts of taste and judgement that frequently focus on the pivotal role of Raphael. In the final chapters, he turns to the truly revolutionary primitivism of the twentieth century, analysing the momentous shifts of taste before which he was himself an eyewitness. Assimilating more than 40 years of study and reflection on this theme, the book presents a vividly argued narrative, supported by extensive quotations that document with acute precision the role of authors, critics and artists in shaping and changing opinion. Principal and pioneering both as a personal testament and as a documentary anthology, this long-anticipated book provides a deep and revealing insight into the history and psychology of taste. Codice libro della libreria AA99780714841540

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Descrizione libro Phaidon Press Ltd, 2002. Condizione libro: New. Professor Gombrich's last book and first narrative work in over 20 years. Num Pages: 324 pages, 12 colour and 230 b&w illustrations, notes, index. BIC Classification: ABA; ACB. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 251 x 183 x 32. Weight in Grams: 1194. . 2002. Hardcover. . . . . . Codice libro della libreria V9780714841540

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Descrizione libro Phaidon Press Ltd. Condizione libro: New. Professor Gombrich's last book and first narrative work in over 20 years. Num Pages: 324 pages, 12 colour and 230 b&w illustrations, notes, index. BIC Classification: ABA; ACB. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 251 x 183 x 32. Weight in Grams: 1194. . 2002. Hardcover. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Codice libro della libreria V9780714841540

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Descrizione libro Phaidon Press Ltd. Hardback. Condizione libro: new. BRAND NEW, The Preference for the Primitive: Episodes in the History of Western Taste and Art, Leonie Gombrich, Ernst H. Gombrich, This monumental book - the last to be completed by the author - is a study of a recurring phenomenon in the history of changing taste in the visual arts: the feeling that older and less sophisticated (i.e. 'primitive') works are somehow morally and aesthetically superior to later works that are perceived as comparatively soft and decadent. In his first narrative work for over two decades, Professor Gombrich traces this fundamental idea back to Classical Antiquity, where he links it both with Cicero's observation that over-indulgence of the senses leads to a feeling of disgust, and with the profoundly influential metaphor comparing the development of art to that of a living organism. Like an organism, art grows to maturity then decays and dies: successive generations of artists and critics have preferred the strength, nobility and sincerity of earlier styles to the more refined later styles with their corrupting and meretricious appeal to the senses. After reviewing the Classical authors whose writings largely set the terms of the debate, Gombrich then charts its progress since its revival in the eighteenth century, documenting the often subtle shifts of taste and judgement that frequently focus on the pivotal role of Raphael. In the final chapters, he turns to the truly revolutionary primitivism of the twentieth century, analysing the momentous shifts of taste before which he was himself an eyewitness. Assimilating more than 40 years of study and reflection on this theme, the book presents a vividly argued narrative, supported by extensive quotations that document with acute precision the role of authors, critics and artists in shaping and changing opinion. Principal and pioneering both as a personal testament and as a documentary anthology, this long-anticipated book provides a deep and revealing insight into the history and psychology of taste. Codice libro della libreria B9780714841540

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