Review of Elkins Our Beautiful Dry and Distant Texts: Art History as Writing [Book Review]

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (1):142-143 (2001)
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In order to say what one means, and be understood, one needs to know to whom one wishes to communicate, the particular mindset one addresses. Expressing oneself clearly and naturally requires some art. Style, then, is an important component of the message received, or so it is in art history writing according to James Elkins. He attempts to demonstrate that what constitutes art history writing is consequently unanalysable; that art history under analysis becomes something else. ‘The glare of logic’ Elkins claims, ‘bleaches the carefully modulated colors of art history and makes whole stretches of it appear blank’ (225). Art history is shrunk when it becomes the patient of the philosopher, the sociologist, the cultural theorist.
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