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Believing Is Seeing: Creating the Culture of Art
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Believing Is Seeing: Creating the Culture of Art

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  239 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Why are the paleolithic Venus of Willendorf, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel frescoes, and Marcel Duchamp's ready-made urinal all considered works of art? Why, strictly speaking, is a Cindy Sherman photograph more "art-like" than a Da Vinci portrait? How did the painters and sculptors of the Renaissance see their creations? And who decides what art is today? In the tradition ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by Penguin Books
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Alison Wong
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How to look at Art 101. Clearly explained and easy to understand.
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: art lovers
Recommended to Jordan by: my husband
An interesting book by an art historian where she doesn't focus on linear time like most historians. The book is in the style of a slide lecture and presents a really great argument. She argues that art is only 300 years old.
Sep 13, 2007 rated it did not like it
If you have any knowledge of art/art history, this book is basically useless. The information is painfully redundant and presented as if the author were writing for young children.
Sarah Weiner
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Required summer reading before my AP Art History course. Good intro into it for someone who doesn't know anything about art history. Made me reconsider some things I took for granted. I recommend this for people (especially high school students) who want to read an easy book that turns some concepts on its head and forces the reader to either consider a new way of thinking or defend their own. Good even if you aren't super into art/art history, but people who like museums (like me) will find it ...more
Brenda Osta
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read for class, interesting perspective although I dont necessarily agree with all of the points brought up ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
a very pleasant surprise
Sophie Cheung
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
actually enjoyed this book a lot! it was a very easy and simple read with some ideas that i hadn't thought of before.
Robyn Groth
Not a review. For my reference.

"In the early twentieth century, abstract artists were idealistic and utopian. They eschewed pictures of things, stories, references to nationality, and history in an attempt to create a universal language for the modern world.

But the silence of these ideal images, the purity of these forms, did not essentially and absolutely represent a metaphysical realm. Instead, abstraction made visible the materials of which Art was made.

Rather than being a universal
This book is really for laymen but it's a fantastically clear way of explaining some of the motivations behind some contemporary art. Its emphasis is on politically driven work. This book would be a good answer to a lot of instances of the question 'how is that art?' ... not so much in terms of things like abstract expressionism or, I don't know, Jessica Stockholder or David Shrigley. It's an excellent fast read too, and very well illustrated.
Mary Anne Staniszewski, former lecturer and professor of contemporary art, culture and critical theory at Rhode Island School of Design, wrote this book based on her teaching lectures on art history. She has livened up and rethought the curriculum, and has produced an accessible thoughtful survey on modern, postmodern art theory.
Sarah Camp
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book gives you a quick look at various forms of 'art', how we view it, what criteria we use to determine what art is, what it's intentions are and an overall theme of accepting that what most people consider art isn't really art.
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Hmmm. it was ok. Didn't love it. Yes, she makes some good points. Perhaps it's because this book is so dated now. It would be interesting to hear this author's take on the impact of the internet and social media and everything that has happened since this book was written. or not.
Dec 08, 2008 marked it as to-read
I met with Mary Anne, she works at Rensselaer Polytechnic's fine art dept.
Very cool that I happened to own Mary Anne's book, too bad I hadn't read it yet when I met with her.
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
When we look at the art that was created in the past we can see more clearly the works of art. In the world today, everyone can be an 'artist'. So, what are the today's "works of art?"
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
A good foundation for any art student.
Jun 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who want to understand how the concept of art as we know it has come to exist
Define: Art.
Silvia Flores
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-of-art
I read this book as a recommendation from my History of Art teacher and I simply loved it.
Basic concepts but quite practical.

Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book!
Jun 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: artists / art history buffs
This book is a nice introductory reader to art and art history, the movers and shakers, the major movements, and how our culture views art.
Matt Collins
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