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A General Theory of Visual Culture
Whitney Davis

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"In this book, Whitney Davis, a major contributor to both the 'old' and 'new' art history, reviews fundamental concepts such as form, style, and iconography with the clarity and generosity of mind his earlier writings have taught us to expect. Beginning from problems described by Wittgenstein, Arthur Danto, and Richard Wollheim, Davis discusses these fundamental concepts in terms that will be of broad interest, at the same time developing a humane and subtle project for cultural interpretation. Davis's 'succession' and 'recursion' should become standard terms in art history, and the book amply repays the patience its careful, constructive arguments demand."--David Summers, University of Virginia

"This brilliant study addresses what the author rightly terms the 'urgent' question of art history's expansion into visual culture.' As penetrating in its theoretical analysis as it is wide-ranging in its historical scope, this is without doubt the most thoughtful and comprehensive work on the subject."--Stephen Bann, University of Bristol

"Displaying the erudition of an extraordinarily well-read art historian and arguing with the lucidity of a classical analytic philosopher, Whitney Davis extends the grand intellectual tradition of Riegl, Wölfflin, and Panofsky, as commented on by Wittgenstein, Wollheim, and Danto. Davis's detailed and subtle analysis will provoke a lively and lasting debate."--David Carrier, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Institute of Art

"Brilliant and original in conception and execution, this book succeeds triumphantly in its ambition to provide a general theory of visual culture. One has to go back to Gombrich's Art and Illusion, Panofsky's Meaning in the Visual Arts, or Wölfflin's Classic Art to find art historical writing of comparable ambition and success. Art history will never be the same again."--John Onians, author of Neuroarthistory

"This fascinating book makes a remarkable contribution to the philosophy of art history. It contains brilliant analyses of some of the discipline's most deeply naturalized assumptions and will interest anyone who cares about its past, present, or future."--Keith Moxey, Barnard College, Columbia University

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File created: 4/21/2017

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