Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars

Camille Paglia. Pantheon, $30 (224p) ISBN 978-0-375-42460-1
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We are living in an age of visual “vertigo” and “must relearn how to see,” argues academic and critic Paglia (Sexual Personae) in this highly reflective and imaginative history of images in Western art. Paglia begins with the Luxor paintings of Queen Nefertiti’s journey to the afterlife and ends with Revenge of the Sith by filmmaker George Lucas, who she argues is the greatest contemporary master of synthesizing art and technology. Intentionally organized as a devotional where the reader observes and contemplates one image at a time, Paglia traces the major periods of Western art image by image, so that each brief chapter could be a stand-alone essay. While some of Paglia’s choices are somewhat predictable (Bernini’s Chair of Saint Peter as an example of the baroque; David’s Death of Marat for neo-classicism; Jackson Pollock’s Green Silver as an example of abstract expressionism) her image choices for romanticism (The Sea of Ice by Caspar David Friedrich) and surrealism (The Portrait by René Magritte) are less so. Paglia writes with energetic lucidity, and her entries on the Laocoön and Donatello’s Mary Magdalene are standouts in this absorbing volume. Both a valuable cultural critique and an elucidating history, Paglia’s latest would suit the general reader, as well as those looking for an alternative approach to contemporary ways of seeing. Illus. Agent: Tina Bennett, Janklow & Nesbit. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/30/2012
Release date: 10/16/2012
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-307-27802-9
Open Ebook - 244 pages - 978-0-307-90780-6
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