Art and Agency - Gell, Alfred

Art and Agency

An Anthropological Theory

Alfred Gell 

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Sprache: Englisch
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Art and Agency

Alfred Gell puts forward a new anthropological theory of visual art, seen as a form of instrumental action: the making of things as a means of influencing the thoughts and actions of others. He argues that existing anthropological and aesthetic theories take an overwhelmingly passive point of view, and questions the criteria that accord art status only to a certain class of objects and not to others. The anthropology of art is here reformulated as the anthropology of a category of action: Gell shows how art objects embody complex intentionalities and mediate social agency. He explores the psychology of patterns and perceptions, art and personhood, the control of knowledge, and the interpretation of meaning, drawing upon a diversity of artistic traditions--European, Indian, Polynesian, Melanesian, and Australian. Art and Agency was completed just before Alfred Gell's death at the age of 51 in January 1997. It embodies the intellectual bravura, lively wit, vigour, and erudition for which he was admired, and will stand as an enduring testament to one of the most gifted anthropologists of his generation.

Review quote:
This book changes the very basis of the way art has been viewed in the human sciences. It presents what is the first fundamental theory for an anthropology of art. Its publication is a major event.This is a remarkable work ... witty, elegant, broad in its compass and scintillating in its detail. It is characteristically polemical ... alive with his sense of purpose and his quite original and captivating account of how we are captivated by relations between forms ... The book know what to do with the limits of form--one suddenly sees how anthropology might surpass itself.An extraordinary achievement. Gell offers a profound new understanding of collective agency which completely reshapes the anthropology of art, redefines its objects of study, and inspires new conclusions.

Alfred Gell puts forward a new anthropological theory of visual art, seen as a form of instrumental action: the making of things as a means of influencing the thoughts and actions of others. He shows how art objects embody complex intentionalities and mediate social agency, and he explores the psychology of patterns and perceptions, art and personhood, the control of knowledge, and the interpretation of meaning, drawing upon a diversity of artistic traditions--European, Indian, Polynesian, Melanesian, and Australian. Art and Agency was completed just before Alfred Gell's death at the age of 51 in January 1997. It embodies the intellectual bravura, lively wit, vigour, and erudition for which he was admired, and will stand as an enduring testament to one of the most gifted anthropologists of his generation.


Produktinformation

  • Verlag: Oxford University Press
  • 1998
  • Ausstattung/Bilder: numerous black and white halftones and line drawings
  • Seitenzahl: 296
  • Englisch
  • Abmessung: 236mm x 156mm x 22mm
  • Gewicht: 453g
  • ISBN-13: 9780198280149
  • ISBN-10: 0198280149
  • Best.Nr.: 21506304
This book changes the very basis of the way art has been viewed in the human sciences. It presents what is the first fundamental theory for an anthropology of art. Its publication is a major event. Maurice Bloch, FBA, Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics. This is a remarkable work ... witty, elegant, broad in its compass and scintillating in its detail. It is characteristically polemical ... alive with his sense of purpose and his quite original and captivating account of how we are captivated by relations between forms ... The book know what to do with the limits of form--one suddenly sees how anthropology might surpass itself. Marilyn Strathern, FBA, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge An extraordinary achievement. Gell offers a profound new understanding of collective agency which completely reshapes the anthropology of art, redefines its objects of study, and inspires new conclusions. Caroline Humphrey, Reader in Asian Anthropology, University of Cambridge
Alfred Gell is a former Reader in Anthropology in the London School of Economics.
Foreword
1. The Problem Defined: The Need for an Anthropology of Art
2. The Theory of the Art Nexus
3. The Art Nexus and the Index
4. The Involution of the Index in the Art Nexus
5. The Origination of the Index
6. The Critique of the Index
7. The Distributed Person
8. Style and Culture
9. Conclusion: The Extended Mind
Bibliography
Index

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