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The Melancholy Art
Michael Ann Holly

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


"The Melancholy Art is both an apt embodiment of contemporary disciplinary conundrums and a deeply moving account of one art historian’s personal attempt to reckon with the impossibility - the futility - of ‘closing the gap between words and images.’. . . Holly clearly exemplifies both senses of the term in this memorable and indeed rather haunting text. . . . The value of The Melancholy Art is precisely in simultaneously manifesting such a conundrum and in refusing to fall into the fundamentalist trap of either attributing or denying real agency to artworks. All our ‘art history’ books should be so brave."--Donald Preziosi, CAA Reviews


"In this unabashedly romantic book, Holly addresses the melancholy that she suggests always accompanies art historians in their research. Erudite and illuminating, The Melancholy Art contributes to a lively contemporary debate about the 'presence' of past arts in our lives and about the appropriate distance that scholars can or should try to attain in relation to it."--Whitney Davis, University of California, Berkeley

"It is about time someone wrote a book like this, one that calls attention to what's so little talked about: namely, the sadness of the art historian's task. Puzzling over the contemporary state of scholarship about art, Holly's meditation is wise, gentle, and erudite. It is good that a voice so well-respected, measured, and yet earnestly plaintive should be the one to speak to us about what we've mostly forsaken or forgotten."--Alexander Nemerov, author of Wartime Kiss: Visions of the Moment in the 1940s

"This superbly written book is a fluid exploration of an undertow of melancholy within art history. Probably the most insistent form of its central question is simply, 'Why do we write about works of art?' Holly is surely right that it is a question art history has little current habit of asking, and that nonetheless must be central to the discipline."--Stephen Melville, coauthor of Writing Art History

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File created: 11/22/2015

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