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Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style (Oxford Paperbacks) [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Michael Baxandall
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19. Mai 1988 Oxford Paperbacks
This book is both an introduction to fifteenth-century Italian painting, and a primer in how to read social history out of the style of pictures. It examines the commercial practice of the early Renaissance picture, trade in contracts, letters, and accounts; and it explains how the visual skills and habits evolved in the daily life of any society enter into its painters' style. Renaissance painting is related for instance to experience of such activities as preaching, dancing, and gauging barrels. This second edition contains an appendix, the original Latin and Italian texts referred to throughout the book, giving the student access to all the relevant, authentic sources.

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Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style (Oxford Paperbacks) + Giotto And The Orators: Humanist Observers of Painting in Italy and the Discovery of Pictorial Composition (Oxford-Warburg Studies)
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  • Taschenbuch: 192 Seiten
  • Verlag: Oxford University Press; Auflage: 2 (19. Mai 1988)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 019282144X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192821447
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 20,5 x 13,7 x 0,5 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 65.986 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
  • Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen

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'Of interest not only to Art Historians, but to anyone concerned with the material culture of the Renaissance.' Dr Jonathan Sawday, University of Southampton


An introduction to Italian painting in the 15th century, and the social history behind it. The book covers the structure of the picture trade and its economic basis through contracts, letters and accounts. The author also illustrates how art history can be used to give insights into social history, by showing how the visual skills and activities of daily life can be related to the painters' style. Renaissance painting is related for instance to experience of activities such as preaching, dancing and gauging barrels. Finally, 16 concepts used by a contemporary critic, Cristoforo Landino, in his description of Masaccio, Filippo Lippi, Andrea del Castagno and Fra Angelico are described and illustrated, as a basis for looking at 15th century painting. In addition, this new edition has an appendix of the original Latin and Italian texts referred to throughout the book, providing access to the relevant, authentic sources.

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I. A FIFTEENTH-CENTURY painting is the deposit of a social relationship. Lesen Sie die erste Seite
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Tolles Buch 18. März 2013
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Das Buch ist super und die Thematik ist auch für Laien verständlich.
Hauptteil des Buches ist das Kapitel zum Period Eye. Baxandall geht sozialgeschichtlich an die Kunst des Quattrocento heran und stellt die Thesen auf, dass auch soziale Praktiken wie Rechnen und Tanzen Einfluss auf den Malstil der Bilder hatten.
Ich habe es für eine Hausarbeit gebraucht und war froh, dass es nur so dünn ist. Habe es mir aber noch auf Deutsch gekauft, um mir beim Zitieren ganz sicher zu sein und für nicht-Native-Speaker ist es manchmal doch etwas schwer.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 von 5 Sternen  12 Rezensionen
117 von 120 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A classic study of the vocabulary of Renaissance painting 29. Oktober 2001
Von Robert Moore - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
I find it strange that many people find it strange that one might read a book like this one for fun. Twice in one day I had people approach me and ask me for what class I was reading this, as if there are books one reads only in school and books one reads in real life.
I did read this in real life, and I read it for three reasons: 1) I knew this is a highly regarded book in art criticism, 2) it deals with a period of art history about which I wanted to know more, and 3) it looked like it would be a fun read.
My primary reaction to the book upon reading it was: how did the author fit such a huge book into so few pages? There are books that cannot be measured by page count. PAINTING AND EXPERIENCE IN FIFTEENTH-CENTURY ITALY contains 153 pages of text, with illustrations taking up around a third of those. Despite that, Baxandall is able to pack an amazing amount of information in a very small number of pages. Yet, as dense as this book is, it never becomes anything less than completely readable. It is a very fast read, and not merely because of the small number of pages. Baxandall's contention is that the visual experience of a Quattrocento person (or what he eventually comes to self-mockingly comes to call "a church-going business man, with a taste for dancing") is not one to which we any longer have conceptual access. He laments that we too often approach these paintings with our own conceptual categories in the forefront, and impose these upon the paintings, instead of judging them and perceiving them, as a contemporary would have. His goal in this slender volume is to attempt to reestablish some sense of the pictorial concepts with which a Quattrocento person approaches a painting. In this I believe he succeeds admirably. While visiting one of my local book superstores, I spent some time glancing through a number of books on Renaissance art, especially Hartt's well-known tome. I found that I was indeed responding differently to the paintings than I had before I read Baxandall. This is a book that capacitates its reader to enjoy a fuller participation in the appreciation of the visual world.
On a completely nonliterary note, I want to add that this is an extraordinarily attractive book. I am sure that no publisher ever decides to make an ugly, unpleasant book, but Oxford University Press with this one certainly managed to make a gorgeous one. The book is far more attractive than the price of the book would seem to support (good paper, pseudo-signature binding, high-quality four-color cover), which leads me to believe that this must get a great deal of adoption as a college text.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A Must-Read If You Are More Than A Casual Art Student 27. April 2005
Von Christine L. Savides - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
I really can't add more to Robert W. Moore's insightful review. However, I feel a need to counterbalance the ranting reviews posted by others on this page.

In particular, the one-star reviews listed here are simply embarrassing. Clearly, these reviewers do not represent the intended audience for this book. It's not Michael Baxandall's fault that these reviewers were unable or unwilling to engage themselves with the depth, detail, and scope of his book. Ignore them.

Here's a useful litmus test: If you would consider taking an art history course because you think it would be an "easy A," avoid this book. On the other hand, if you hold a genuine interest and enthusiasm for art history in general - and for Renaissance art in particular - this book should be well worth your time.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Art Book 30. September 2008
Von Pierre C. Ruette - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
This was my first introduction to the art historian world and it was fascinating. Unfortunately, but only for me, is the fact that both my educational level and acquired knowledge of the subject were insufficiently advanced to fully appreciate the author's insights. That just calls for more work on my part to study up in advance. It should be taken as praise for Mr. Baxandall's pedagocic style which -- as the best teachers tend to do -- opened up new vistas, if only I choose to look.

My only crticism is not of the contents or the author but of the publisher or more likely the editor. Perhaps it is pure economics which resulted in this insecure form of binding and too much type on each page to save space, while the juxtaposition of plates against the relevant text reference was very poor.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen This superb short book delivers 22. Mai 2013
Von paedagogue - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
exactly what it promises: a key to relating the "raw" evidence of Renaissance social history (contracts, treatises on commercial math, preaching and devotion, social dancing, and--most wonderful--the making and judging of art) to the "raw" evidence of Renaissance picture-making: altarpieces, portable diptychs and other devotional panels, frescoes on convent walls. NOWHERE does Baxandall promise to "unveil" artistic mysteries, or show us the "fun" of Renaissance art. He never panders to his reader's ignorance, or accepts the facile claim that art is about personal genius "expressing itself." If you believe looking at art is a self-sufficient experience purely dependent on your ability to "connect" emotionally or aesthetically with an object made by a genius, that's great, but you won't learn anything from this book, because you know all you need to know already. If, however, you can drop your solipsistic preconceptions about art and ask yourself: WHY were Renaissance pictures made, WHO had them made (guess what? It WASN'T the artists!), HOW were they seen (NOT in museums!), then you're in for an amazingly thoughtful and well documented primer in "how to see as if you were a Renaissance art buyer" (the only buyers that mattered to "Renaissance geniuses," who would have laughed at the modern museum-goer attempting to emotionally connect with "fine art" cut off from its original location and purpose). Baxandall was a great linguist (Greek, Latin, German, Italian, French . . .), as well as a specialist who combined deep curatorial expertise (he knew in precise technical detail how a tree-trunk was transformed into a painted wood statue) and advanced historical analysis. Most of us read old historical sources and are struck by their simplicity (those Renaissance geniuses sounded pretty naive when they wrote down their thoughts), but Baxandall knew how to read for both what is written and what is left unsaid. He knew the connotations, not just the denotations, of Renaissance Italian words, and how a simple concept--such as "ornate"--actually implies a multitude of other concepts when applied to picture-making. This book tells you how Renaissance pictures were bought and paid for, what the buyers saw in them that correlated with their own social reality, how those same buyers USED them, and how different buyers, art-makers and art-commentators actually evaluated and described pictures. It starts simple, but it gets complex as Baxandall demonstrates how each new layer of documentation enriches and modifies the others. If you're a careless reader, you'll miss this cumulative aspect of the book's evidence (Baxandall uses carefully selected representative sources, not masses of "facts"), and therefore the book's greatest strength. Looking at a Renaissance picture in a museum (and even in an "original site" that has become a museum, such as the Vatican Palace) is a lot like looking at a laptop screen with the rest of the computer (including the battery!) removed or inaccessible. You can't DO anything with it. Baxandall gives you the tools for recovering the REST of the laptop.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Patrons, Sacks of Grain, and Videotape: A Twenty-First Century Perspective on Fifteenth-Century Italy 8. März 2012
Von Light Nykorchuk - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
In Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy, Michael Baxandall states that any "fifteenth-century painting is a deposit of a social relationship." In other words, Italian paintings of the fifteenth century in some sense embody, reflect, or offer information about the conventions governing how individuals interact with one another. In my opinion, however, Baxandall's thesis, at least in this form, is otiose.

Baxandall discusses a number of contracts that were executed by painters and patrons (mostly those merchants of old whose measures of value and equity were relative to their large sacks of grain). We are shown financial records that document what is clearly a stark business transaction in which, because these paintings were frequently commissioned for the church, the artists' freedom is quite limited. This is not to say that there was an absence of piety associated with the production many of these works. The audience presumably believes the stories these paintings tell. To try in any way to discount this obvious fact would be futile. But piety is not the only issue for the painters. A painter might also want to show that he is favored by the muses, that he is the greatest story-teller of all, a bard. After all, it is the centrality of the Biblical stories and what they represent, together with the artist's skill at evoking them, that makes these works worth paying for.

Like the money spent by Hollywood producers in order to make movies with state-of-the-art visual effects, Italian painters too required substantial investment to contribute to their equivalent of the entertainment industry. But here again the question of piety arises. As often as not, piety and money go together quite well. The willingness to invest extravagant resources in the production of religious art is itself a tribute to God's word, not merely as a way of giving alms to the church, but more significantly to clarify the story, to render it fresh and more vivid - a properly aesthetic aim. Both financier and artist are thereby each gaining grace, the one advertising his willingness to put his wealth, and the other his willingness to put his skill, aesthetic prowess, in the service of God. To say, as Baxandall does, that paintings embody social relationships is to say too little. Of more interest is the character of the social relationships that we find emerging through these paintings. We see business contracts for mutual profit, the struggle for achievement and recognition on the part of the artists, the desire to inform the public about sacred matters (and also to reinterpret them), the desire of financiers to demonstrate their piety, and no doubt much else as well. Our aim should not be merely to identify "the social," but to characterize it in its complexity, ambiguity, and multiple and overlapping meanings.

Though this book is essential to anyone interested in fifteenth-century history, art production being the locus of that history, I give the four-stars rating since 45% of the book is filled with black and white plates, though printed on high-quality paper. I feel that color plates could have bumped it up to five stars.
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