All Consuming Images

Stuart Ewen, Author Basic Books $19.95 (306p) ISBN 978-0-465-00100-2
For prosperous townfolk of 15th century Europe, the ability to purchase an illuminated Book of Hours was a sign that one had ``arrived.'' Today, buying a Picasso print or a Porsche might fulfill a similar function for the status-conscious. According to Ewen ( Captains of Consciousness ), the main difference is that, for us, style has come to dominate substance. We are a society in love with surfacea look, a sound, a pose; style is a tool to construct selfhood, a vehicle to sell things. Ewen sees the apex of this trend in the elevation of a mediocre Hollywood actor to the U.S. presidency. Illustrated with photos of industrial designs and advertisements, this devastating, incisive essay explores the ways modernist aesthetics meshes with the needs of an efficient workplace, the invention of celebrityhood, the cult of the body beautiful and the creation of ``style industries'' devoted to sustaining perpetual novelty. (October)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-465-00101-9
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