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July 27 , 2008

The Books That Shaped Art History

From Gombrich and Greenberg to Alpers and Krauss


The Books That Shaped Art History reassesses the impact of some of the most important texts of art history published during the twentieth century. Each of the sixteen incisive chapters focuses on a single title and is written by a leading art historian, curator or one of the promising scholars of todays generation. In bringing these cross-generational contributions together, this book provides a varied and invaluable overview of the history of art, told through its seminal texts. The sixteen books include Nikolaus Pevsners gospel of Modernism, Pioneers of the Modern Movement, Alfred Barrs now legendary monograph on Matisse, E.H. Gombrichs Art and Illusion, Clement Greenbergs Art and Culture, which had a seismic impact when it was published in 1961 and Rosalind Krausss The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths, which introduced structuralist and post-structuralist philosophy into art historical study. Initiated by and and prepared under the auspices of The Burlington Magazine, each chapter - with writers including John Elderfield, Richard Verdi and Susie Nash - analyses a single major book, mapping the intellectual development of its author, setting out the premises and argument of the book, discussing its position within the field of art history, and looking at its significance in the context both of its initial reception and its legacy. An introduction by John-Paul Stonard explores how art history has been forged by these outstanding contributions to scholarship, as well as by the dialogues and ruptures between them. The book is supplemented by contextual essays summarising the achievements of each art historian and offering a detailed publication history of their texts, with suggestions for further reading. Enlivening debates and questioning the very status of art history itself, The Books That Shaped Art History is a concise and brilliant overview of the discipline and an invaluable resource for students, teachers, bibliophiles and all those interested in visual culture and its histories.
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