Famous Works of Art-And How They Got That Way (Paperback)
  • Famous Works of Art-And How They Got That Way (Paperback)
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Famous Works of Art-And How They Got That Way (Paperback)

(author), (foreword)
£16.95
Paperback 336 Pages / Published: 15/11/2017
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In a world filled with great museums and great paintings, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is the reigning queen. Her portrait rules over a carefully designed salon, one that was made especially for her in a museum that may seem intended for no other purpose than to showcase her virtues. What has made this portrait so renowned, commanding such adoration? And what of other works of art that continue to enthrall spectators: What makes the Great Sphinx so great? Why do iterations of The Scream and American Gothic permeate nearly all aspects of popular culture? Is it because of the mastery of the artists who created them? Or can something else account for their popularity? In Famous Works of Art-And How They Got That Way, John B. Nici looks at twenty well-known paintings, sculptures, and photographs that have left lasting impressions on the general public. As Nici notes, there are many reasons why works of art become famous; few have anything to do with quality. The author explains why the reputations of some creations have grown over the years, some disproportionate to their artistic value. Written in a style that is both entertaining and informative, this book explains how fame is achieved, and ultimately how a work either retains that fame, or passes from the public consciousness. From ancient artifacts to a can of soup, this book raises the question: Did the talent to promote and publicize a work exceed the skills employed to create that object of worship? Or are some masterpieces truly worth the admiration they receive? The creations covered in this book include the Tomb of Tutankhamun, Botticelli's Birth of Venus, Raphael's Sistine Madonna, El Greco's The Burial of Count Orgaz, Rodin's The Thinker, Van Gogh's Starry Night, and Picasso's Guernica. Featuring more than sixty images, including color reproductions, Famous Works of Art-And How They Got That Way will appeal to anyone who has ever wondered if a great painting, sculpture, or photograph, really deserves to be called "great."

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9781538104958
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 699 g
Dimensions: 255 x 177 x 21 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Art historian Nici considers some of the world's most revered pieces of art and the 'peculiar-and often inexplicable' circumstances that contributed to their current significance. These include the 1922 discovery of the ancient Egyptian tomb of King Tutankhamun, which benefited from press coverage stimulating the public's interest, and the steady rise in prominence of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa over centuries, further enhanced by its 1911 theft. The statue Winged Victory sat in the Louvre 'friendless and unnoticed' before a mere change in location to the grand central staircase made it a visitor favorite. Nici outlines the controversy surrounding Manet's Luncheon on the Grass, criticized by the stodgy French Salon, but lauded by more liberal impressionists. Van Gogh is lionized for his cult of personality and tortured history boldly on display in Starry Night, and Grant Wood's American Gothic is noted for its 'ambiguity of form and interpretation,' evident in arguments over the artist's sincerity. Nici also recalls Andy Warhol's explosion into celebrity via the Campbell's soup prints and the multiple controversies surrounding the construction of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, designed by 21-year-old Yale undergraduate Maya Lin. Viewing the artistic material through the angle of fame is a unique approach and Nici provides ample and accessible theory, interpretation, and historical context to make this an interesting and educational read. * Publishers Weekly *
'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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