Stories of Art by James Elkins

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Stories of Art is James Elkins's intimate history of art. Concise and original, this engaging book is an antidote to the behemoth art history textbooks from which we were all taught. As he demonstrates so persuasively, there can never be one story of art. Cultures have their own stories - about themselves, about other cultures - and to hear them all is one way to hear the multiple stories that art tells. But each of us also has our own story of art, a kind of private art history made up of the pieces we have seen, and loved or hated, the effects they had on us, and the connections that might be drawn among them.

Elkins opens up the questions that traditional art history usually avoids. What about all the art not produced in Western Europe or in the Europeanized Americas? Is it possible to include Asian art and Indian art in ‘the story?’ What happens when one does? To help us find answers, he uses both Western and non-Western artworks, tables of contents from art histories written in cultures outside the centre of Western European tradition, and strangely wonderful diagrams of how artworks might connect through a single individual. True multiculturalism may be an impossibility, but art lovers can each create a ‘story of art’ that is right for themselves.


About James Elkins

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James Elkins is Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Chair of Art History at University College, Cork, Ireland. Among his books are Pictures and Tears, Visual Studies: a Skeptical Introduction, What Painting Is, Stories of Art, and How to Use Your Eyes, all published by Routledge.
Published October 18, 2013 by Routledge. 192 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography.

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Elkins (Art History/School of the Art Institute of Chicago) focuses on the various ways the history of art can be presented, each with its strong points and failings.

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