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

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  797 ratings  ·  119 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
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Hardcover, 202 pages
Published 2012 by Pantheon
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Tony
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
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Lindsey
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
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Matt
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.

Wi
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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
Bryan
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
Michael
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,
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Ann
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. ...more
Alex Sarll
I was trying to explain Camille Paglia to my millennial wife, and after a pause started with "In the nineties, when being a provocateur didn't just mean being a dickhead...". And the introduction here had me bristling, with its sweeping statements about how art only makes the headlines nowadays for thefts or auctions (which turns out only to be applicable to America, in which case perhaps, but even then that Americocentrism galls), its prodding at straw-man 'liberals', its muttering about all th ...more
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
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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
David
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
Matthew
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
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
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Clementine
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?? ...more
Mike
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. ...more
Yağız Ay
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Paglia is real. That's all you need to know about her. This is a superb survey of art; and the book itself is fascinating. Kudos to Paglia. ...more
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
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Sally Boyer
Sep 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I innocently picked up this book without knowing a thing about the controversy around the author and her political views. This book is rather void of political opinion, so I wouldn’t have ever suspected that there was any controversy if I hadn’t started to research the author.

Camille Paglia is a professor at the University of Arts in Philadelphia and has been since 1984. She identifies as a feminist and as a trans-gendered person, stating that she never identified as female. However, many femin
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gabrielle ✿
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
Jim
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Camille Paglia has a direct, plain-sensical way of writing that I've always admired. Glittering Images is essentially an abbreviated art history course, great for those of us who never took art history but have over the years gained a fair amount of knowledge of the subject matter. She chooses 29 key images, a somewhat idiosyncratic selection, but not wacky, and gives us a few pages on the artist, the world in which he or she lived, his or her other works, key features of this work, and why it's ...more
Alexander
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
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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
Charity
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
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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.
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Donald
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.
Ara
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. ...more
Castles
Jan 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: art
Even though I don't totally agree with her, I kind of liked her counter criticism against the academic Marxist approach to criticism, and her 'anti-snobbish while staying snobbish herself approach'.

It's an interesting read into several of the major art works from ancient times till today, but I'm really not sure a film of star wars is the best representation of our time, or that art history narrowed itself or could be peaked at George Lucas's film.

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A
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.
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Rachel
Oct 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, art, 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
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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
...more

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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
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