The Life of a Style: Beginnings and Endings in the Narrative History of Art

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Cornell University Press, 2000 - 157 pages
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What does it mean to say that a form of art is exhausted, that an artist has brought his or her work as far as it can go, that modernism began with Edouard Manet, or that cubism reached a natural ending in 1914 (even if members of that movement continued to paint in a cubist style)? Contemporary theories of art history tend to treat such issues as matters of narrative form, of the manner in which history is represented - with beginnings, turning points and ending belonging to the narrative itself and not constrained by historical fact. In this book, Jonathan Gilmore claims that such narrative developments inhere in the history of art itself.

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Page 24 - like orientation to the good, not an optional extra; that our lives exist also in this space of questions, which only a coherent narrative can answer. In order to have a sense of who we are, we have to have a notion of how we have become, and of where we are going.
Page 16 - asks, Does the world really present itself to perception in the form of wellmade stories, with central subjects, proper beginnings, middles, and ends, and a coherence that permits us to see "the end
Page 96 - Come now, isn't it almost a true religion which these simple Japanese teach us, who live in nature as though they themselves were flowers? And you cannot study Japanese art, it seems to me, without becoming much gayer and happier, and we must return to nature in spite of our education and our work in a world of convention.
Page 22 - stories are not lived but told. Life has no beginnings, middles, or ends; there are meetings, but the start of an affair belongs to the story we tell ourselves later, and there are partings, but final partings only in the story. There are hopes, plans, battles and ideas, but only in retrospective stories are hopes unfulfilled, plans miscarried, battles decisive, and ideas seminal.
Page 26 - There is no present which is not informed by some image of some future and an image of the future which always presents itself in the form of a telos—or of a variety of ends or
Page 29 - sense of flowing from just one mouth, or one pencil or pen, but in a more subtle sense: their effect on any audience or readers is to encourage them to (try to) posit a unified agent whose words they are: in short to posit...
Page 141 - too have, as it were, nothing but a shadowy outline left of the object of our wishes, but that very indistinctness awakens only a more earnest longing for what we have lost, and we study the copies of the originals more attentively than we should have done the originals themselves if we had been in full possession of them.
Page 23 - The State resorts to the narrative of freedom every time it assumes direct control over the training of the 'people,' under the name of the 'nation,' in order to point them down the path of progress.
Page 59 - In any given culture and at any given moment, there is always only one episteme that defines the conditions of possibility of all knowledge.
Page 18 - Yet this entire body of peoples remains excluded from our consideration, because hitherto it has not appeared as an independent element in the series of phases that Reason has assumed in the World.

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