Sunday 19 January 2014

New Book: Art History on Shaky Grounds

Elizabeth Marlowe, 'Shaky Ground: Context, Connoisseurship and the History of Roman Art ' Debates in Archaeology series). Another contribution to the heritage debate, written this time by an art-historian:
This book argues that the current legal and ethical debates over looting, ownership and cultural property have distracted us from the epistemological problems inherent in all (ostensibly) ancient artworks lacking a known findspot, problems that should be of great concern to those who seek to understand the past through its material remains.
The 'view inside' preview is very enticing, I love that term "grounded", and wish I'd thought of it! ('Grounded data' and 'ungrounded data' seems to have interesting possibilities for the debates with coineys about the nature of their "studies" of the objects they collect).  This looks definitely to be a book to be discussed more widely. I've ordered it and will probably be writing more about this.

1 comment:

David Knell said...

Thanks so much for drawing my attention to this work, Paul. I read through the online excerpt and found myself nodding in agreement with much of what the author wrote. I have always regarded the notion of an art history vs. archaeology dichotomy as a ridiculously short-sighted construct. A true appreciation of aesthetics demands understanding - and how can one have any deep understanding of an object without knowing something of its original (or at least early) context? And if that knowledge is based on 'grounded' objects, the more confident we can be in its accuracy. Art history and archaeology should be allied, not opposed.

Quite apart from the fact that I am personally more interested in knowledge than aesthetics, with more accent on the 'history' part of art history than the 'art'.

I cannot afford a copy of the work myself so I hope you do discuss it when you have received your own copy. I look forward to your comments.

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