Who Says That's Art?

A COMMONSENSE VIEW OF THE VISUAL ARTS

An impressive companion for advanced studies in visual arts, accessible enough for general-interest readers.

A seasoned art scholar, editor and author presents an overview of art history with a suggested approach for identifying “true” visual art.

As the co-editor of the renowned art journal Aristos and co-author of What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand (2000), Kamhi brings to her newest book decades of study and practical experience in the art world. She provides a history of visual arts as viewed by Aristotle, Kant, Rand and others, and offers her list of “basic assumptions” about “true” art’s essential characteristics: “First, all works of art are made with special skill and care—they are not the product of casual whim, chance, or accident,” and, among other assertions, “They are not abstract.” She concludes: “Any work that does not possess all these attributes is either failed art or non-art.” In Chapters 3 and 4, Kamhi reviews 20th-century innovations she believes depart from conventionally accepted visual arts—including abstract art, pop art, installation art and similar visual art forms. Other chapters cover film as art, art education, the role art critics have played in promoting bad art, and the rewards of “real art.” Chapter 7, perhaps the book’s most engaging, reveals that, according to data from cognitive science, emotions are tied to sensory experiences, and perceptions of beauty and meaning aren’t really subjective. Online links to dozens of artists’ works help bring the text to life, and the extensive chapter endnotes offer solid supporting resources for further study. Kamhi’s writing is forceful and persuasive as she defends her conventional concept of art: “Prior to the early twentieth century, artists…employed imagery to embody meaning.” Abstract art is not “an intelligible vehicle of meaning or emotional expression,” she says; rather, it is “essentially a failed enterprise.” Certain appreciators might agree, but the art world no doubt has a compelling rebuttal.

An impressive companion for advanced studies in visual arts, accessible enough for general-interest readers.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ingram

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2014

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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