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

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  682 ratings  ·  105 reviews
From the best-selling author of Sexual Personae and Break, Blow, Burn and one of our most acclaimed cultural critics, here is an enthralling journey through Western art’s defining moments, from the ancient Egyptian tomb of Queen Nefertari to George Lucas’s volcano planet duel in Revenge of the Sith.

America’s premier intellectual provocateur returns to the subject that brou
Hardcover, 202 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Pantheon (first published 2012)
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3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  682 ratings  ·  105 reviews

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Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, firstreads-wins
I’ve never read Camille Paglia before, so I was unaware of the fuss. There are rumors of controversy, or at least of controversial utterances. Some of it is definitional apparently, like this nugget on the Goodreads author page for Paglia:

She has been variously called the "feminist that other feminists love to hate," a "post-feminist feminist," one of the world's top 100 intellectuals by the UK's Prospect Magazine, and by her own description "a feminist bisexual egomaniac."

I’m reminded that Jerr
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-and-poetry
Camille Paglia has had a great influence on me ever since I stumbled across a used copy of "Sex, Art and American Culture" in high school. I'm pretty sure she saved me from a narrow, feminist way of thinking with that book. Then "Break, Blow, Burn" taught me how to read poetry, something you think I would have picked up after graduating from a liberal arts college.

After five years, she has finally published "Glittering Images," written in short, easily accessible essays that force the reader to
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it

Ahhh Camille...Miss Paglia, if you're nasty, Professor Paglia if you're delinquent...

I don't know all that much when it comes to art, to be honest. I know enough maybe to be conversant in it but not for very long. The good rule of thumb, I find, when you're going through a topic you're not super-versed on is to be guided by someone whose work you know well. At least, that way you can separate the gold from the dross, the inquisitiveness from the prejudices, the rants from the chamber music.

Nick Ziegler
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Paglia makes a solid attempt at providing a suitable raison d'etre for the art book in our era -- in an "age of vertigo," wherein "mass media are a bewitching wilderness," Paglia reasonably asserts that "we must relearn how to see." However, this is not The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction, and Paglia is no Walter Benjamin. Despite this somewhat promising introduction, which soon devolves into a curious and surprising curmudgery about how film is better than digital and painting is ...more
Some 29 essays providing an introduction to art.

The big gripe a lot of people will inevitably have with this is that a lot will be left out - could you imagine the difficulty of trying to introduce somebody to literature with only 29 books? Still, it's a very respectable introduction and cross-section of European and North American art, and the author's opinions are very ... fiery, to put it mildly.

My only (minor) criticism is her choice of Star Wars Episode III to represent modern pop cinema. I
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-design
Reading this book brought home how terrible visual arts education is in our public school system. I'm guessing that due to our Protestant heritage -- with its emphasis on the written word -- we focus almost exclusively on written artistic works while visual art and music fall by the wayside. In my public K-12 education, I had zero -- ZERO -- instruction in art history. It wasn't until I got to college and on a whim took took Introduction to Western Art, taught by Dr. Pat Craig at CSU Fullerton, ...more
the gift
this book is an excellent overview of the history of art, and even if you disagree with some assertions, she is never less than compelling, educated, original and challenging in her arguments. did not enjoy art history much when I had to take it at u- but here it is fascinating, particularly in the range of modern art, art from the 19th century through the wider net of the twentieth, up to her championing of Revenge of the Sith and George Lucas's films as current great art...

this is an overview,
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My new favorite non-fiction book of the year! One isn't just dazzled by Paglia's scholarship, but also illuminated by the broad spectrum of art works she focuses on. Show-offy academia at its best; the slick pages glitter. Borrowed it from the library; I'd like to own this book.
Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton
Over the years, I've run into Camille Paglia's essays at unexpected times, and I seem to always come away thoughtful and, occasionally, amused. Clearly coming from a perspective distant from my own, politically and culturally a member of East Coast academia, I never the less found her insights and way of putting things provocative.

When I heard that her newest book argued that George Lucas was one of greatest, if not the greatest, of modern artists, I was intrigued. First off, because I've been a
Nick Black
Dec 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Nick by: Simon Doonan
like most things involving art, this book left me flummoxed. as a reasonably well-adjusted male of thirty-three years, i worry about a great many things. castration isn't one of them, yet that word shows up four distinct times in this slideshow-styled review (i.e. about four pages of commentary for each still) of thirty works, with an emphasis on the past two centuries. my appreciation for the works and writeups varied (I was delighted to be introduced to Tamara de Łempicka's Art Deco Portrait o ...more
Oct 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Camille Paglia's "Glittering Images" is a well-written, thoroughly researched, thoughtful introduction to western art.In the introduction of the book, she bemoan "The current caferteria-style curriculum" found in even some of America's best colleges and universities. Instead,she argues for a common core remiscent of E.D. Hirsch's "culutural literacy or the Allan Bloom's emphasis on the classics. As she said in her recent book talk at the Louisville Public Library, she values and prefers a chrono ...more
John Fredrickson
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
Paglia's books always impress through the display of vast erudition - this is no exception.

In a series of short essays that each use one piece of art as a focal point, Paglia sweeps through the history of art in various forms, introducing the chosen artist, the predominant culture of the time, and some of the context in which the art was received. She also draws attention to some of the features and symbolism that is used within the artistic piece, while pointing out details and techniques that
Feb 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I loved the introduction, and was hoping more of the rest of the book... She arbitrarily selected 29 artworks to cover thousands years of Art... but the artworks were well located in their historical and stylish contexts. It's a great book to have an overview of art history, even though I had to read it with Google open to check the mentioned artworks... And what a disappointing end... George Lucas "supreme artist" of the 21st century... Seriously??
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: art
Exceedingly basic and fairly uninteresting. The fight scene between Vadar and Obi-Wan is somehow art? Come on.
Emannuel Rojas
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Read if you already read Gombrich's "The Story of Art" and you've got nothing better to do. Good for the pretentious Star Wars fan and discovering a few overlooked pieces of art.
Jack Wolfe
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've been in a reading rut lately (I swear to god I've started seven novels in the past two weeks, and I'm probably not gonna finish any of them, so sue me), so I looked for a book with big pretty pictures. And I found this one! It's alright!

A lot of Camille Paglia's opinions are kinda dumb, the sort of "I'M A PROVOCATEUR" shit that she often criticizes in the pages of "Glittering Images." Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you like to write people and things off on the basis of a couple of tweet
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: art lovers, history lovers, people looking to learn about either art or history
Recommended to Gabrielle by: Professor of Art Appreciation class
From just the introduction alone (which readers should not skip over), it is instantly recognizable that this book is written by someone who both cares passionately about her subject and is also profoundly knowledgeable in regards to it. Ms. Paglia comes with an array of skills that made me yearn for a full fictional novel from her - she has an excellent command of the English language and she is able to confer passion from herself onto her readers. It made me want to go out instantly and read m ...more
Feb 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: art, non-fiction
If anyone wants a concise introduction to art, art history and world history in a single compilation, look no further. This is a slim volume but provides a look at western art through the ages, beginning with Egyptian art. What I like about the book is that each short chapter is dedicated to 1 piece of art (be it a painting, sculpture or even a building) and the artist. Ms Paglia spends a bit of time analyzing the highlighted work but will also give a little background on the artist and a brief ...more
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it

This is a fun book. Natuarlly. I do not think Camille Paglia knows how to be boring. Whereas most histories of art focus on schools and eras, she picks a representative work and focuses on a series of single works of art. This gives her discussion greater concreteness and an immediacy lacking in most such histories of art. The first half of the book deals with art before the twentieth century. The next quarter with Picasso to Warhol and the final quarter with contemporary art. The closer she mov
Alissa McCarthy
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was great. I love art history, particularly when commented on by someone other than art historians. Passionately argued, brilliantly written, and filled with Paglia’s trademark audacity, Glittering Images takes us on a tour through more than two dozen seminal images, some famous and some obscure or unknown—paintings, sculptures, architectural styles, performance pieces, and digital art that have defined and transformed our visual world. She combines close analysis with backgr ...more
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read (and re-read) all of Paglia's books voraciously. I date my intellectual independence from the point when I read her first chapter of Sexual Personae (1990). After a 5 year break following her brilliant poetry book (Break Blow Burn), I ordered this book as soon as I heard about the release date. I have a Kindle but I ordered the physical paper version because the painting reproductions are beautiful and the paper quality is glossy, and indeed the book is well-made overall; a rare example. ...more
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
1) I may agree with Paglia's opinion but it's not a persuasive argument for someone who doesn't already agree with Paglia's opinion on art education.

2) Paglia is an agnostic who wants to preserve religious art because its symbols are important to humanity (my paraphrase).
I'd like to suggest that there is a deeper reason why the symbols are important to humanity. Paglia ought to ask the philosophical and theological questions that this brings up.

3) Good writing doesn't make up for superficial t
Breno Filo
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ela me fez transportar, de forma breve e reflexiva, por vinte e nove momentos da História da Arte com muito gosto! Seu discurso, tanto por seu posicionamento político, quanto pela aberta contextualização artista-obra-contexto, é pautado no eixo Europa e América do Norte. Apesar disso, apreciei sua coragem em dar relevância a produções de artistas pouco difundidos aqui no Brasil (acredito que por questões de segregação midiática de gênero, sexual ou racial). Seu capítulo final foi um verdadeiro c ...more
Vittorio Bertocci
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very nice. Engineers should spend more time interacting with fine arts.
The scope of the book is by necessity covering just a sliver of what's relevant, but I agree with the author's choices. I am somewhat surprised by the conclusive piece, but Camille presents a pretty convincing argument :-)

The quality of the pages is really good, it reminded me of the art books at home; it is really worth it to own it in hardcover.
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I give it 5 stars as opposed to 4 because I always learn from Camille Paglia and she always makes you think. She is also one of the few writers from whom I learn new words on many of her pages. It is typical of a Paglia book in the in-depth research she has done and the crystalline writing. But I wish the book was 300 pages instead of less than 200. Even if I didn't agree with everything she said, I wanted more.
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
I found this book a bit of a disappointment. But that is perhaps because I was hoping for a different book. She says that she was writing for people who were not familiar with the visual arts, whereas I found too much of it was at a too introductory level. I enjoyed the introduction,and I like it when she is making outrageous statements, and is challenging and provoking. But I felt I wanted the chapters on the various artists to be taken a bit further than they were.
Mar 10, 2016 marked it as 12on
Camille obviously never saw the Star Wars prequels. Lovely attempt at trying to cash in on the realization that geek culture is now cool and nerds have money, but a pathetically transparent one, as devoid of true intellectual insight like all of her essays.

Oh, Camille. Go back to blowing your pretentious empty hot air up Donald Drumpf's patootie.
Oct 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: art, non-fiction, okay
For me the best part of this book was the introduction, which contained an ‘a-ha!’ moment of realisation about the origins of American design and architecture (and, arguably, culture and personality). OBVIOUSLY the Puritans and their hatred of decoration and excess influenced the visual outcome of American cities, which all look like blocks of grey Lego. No one was allowed to be decadent or rococco or baroque.

The other essays I’m less sold on. She tends to fall prey to what I call ‘nonsense art
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Despite spending most of my adult life in higher education - so many years of college, grad school, specialty schools - I have always known that my knowledge of art is badly lacking. When I picked up this slim volume I thought maybe it would help a little, and low-and-behold, it helps a lot.

Don't get me wrong, reading this book won't suddenly make you an expert on 5000 years of art history. What it does accomplish, however, is provide a series of short essays starting with ancient history and w
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Essays of digestible length encompass a broad sweep of moments/movements in art history. Paglia ably humanizes both cerebral art and valid versions of commonly-levelled criticism - In the heart of "It's in poor taste" she recognizes the person complaining that a work's overt sexual references are "excessively lugubrious"; "Anyone could do that" is easy to understand when explained as a consequence of aesthetic responses to pop art. But in doing so she does not allow the artist or his art to be d ...more
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Camille Anna Paglia is an American social critic, author and teacher. Her book, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, published in 1990, became a bestseller. She is a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

She has been variously called the "feminist that other feminists love to hate," a "post-feminist fe
“The only way to teach focus is to present the eye with opportunities for steady perception—best supplied by the contemplation of art. Looking at art requires stillness and receptivity, which realign our senses and produce a magical tranquillity.” 7 likes
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