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


Who Says That's Art?


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


Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ingram

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2014

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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