Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 699 g
Dimensions: 255 x 177 x 21 mm
'Why do certain works of art sustain or lose their fame?' asks Nici (professor of art history at Queens College, in Flushing, New York) in the introduction to his study of 20 iconic photographs, paintings, and sculptures. The answer makes for a fascinating look at the content and context of such works as the Great Sphinx, Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, Manet's Luncheon on the Grass, Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother, Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup, and the rest. For each work examined, there is a detailed description and a thorough accounting of its contemporary reception and subsequent reputation. Among the more than 60 images included are a number of color reproductions. Over and over, we read that the reputation of a particular 'masterpiece' often has less to do with its artistic quality and more to do with the success of its publicity and promotion. Any one of these 20 chapters would make a lively and engaging lecture in art history; all of them should be required reading for anyone who has ever visited an art museum. * Booklist *
True adventures in art history-who knew that wanton destruction, theft, forgery and the contempt of critics were prime ingredients for making works of art famous? John Nici's book is a terrific read, entertaining and erudite. -- Michael Findlay, author of The Value of Art
This is not just another art history book! Well-researched and accessible to a broad readership, Famous Works of Art-And How They Got That Way examines 4500 years of fine art, sculpture and photography. Far from a dry read, Nici's twenty case studies vividly capture the post-creation life of each object by exploring the triangulation among the works, their meanings, and their cultural reception. The text further problematizes the notion of the masterpiece amid genius, fame, reputation, and value. After reading it, you may (even) think again before taking a selfie in front of a masterpiece and posting it to social media! -- Juilee Decker, Associate Professor, Museum Studies, Rochester Institute of Technology
Well crafted and highly readable. John Nici gives an insightful overview of many factors impacting the fame of works of art throughout the ages. The "masterpieces" range from a long span of history and reflect changing attitudes over the broad spectrum of time. Famous Works of Art will cause you to think deeply about the many paths to fame. This book provides an intriguing exploration of the fickle nature of perseverance vs. obscurity wrought by the passage of time and taste. -- Dr. Carey Rote, Professor of Art History, Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi
John Nici's fun and fascinating text delves into the heart of how and why certain objects, often ones that were criticized in their own eras, become celebrated. Ultimately, Nici explores the nature of and causes for the popular renown of painting, sculpture, and photography. Nici's delectable prose will be enjoyed by the specialist, the amateur, those who are new to art history, and anyone who has ever asked themselves or their professor, "Why is that famous?" -- Caterina Y. Pierre, Professor of Art History, City University of New York at Kingsborough
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