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The Uses of Images: Studies in the Social Function of Art and Visual Imagery

The Uses of Images: Studies in the Social Function of Art and Visual Imagery

Paperback

By (author) Leonie Gombrich, By (author) Ernst H. Gombrich

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  • Publisher: Phaidon Press Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 172mm x 245mm x 20mm | 826g
  • Publication date: 16 March 2000
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0714839698
  • ISBN 13: 9780714839691
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Illustrations note: 356 b&w illustrations, notes, index
  • Sales rank: 455,921

Product description

In this volume, the tenth in the series of his collected essays, Professor Gombrich returned to themes that long preoccupied him in his study of visual imagery of all kinds. Central to these pivotal essays is a consuming interest in the functions of images, and how these functions, in addition to the images themselves, evolve over time. In wide-ranging studies of both so-called 'high' and 'low' art - from fresco painting, altar painting, the International Gothic Style and outdoor sculpture to doodles, pictorial instructions, caricature and political propaganda - Gombrich examines a broad spectrum of key questions. These include the role of supply and demand, competition and display, the 'ecology' of images, the idea of 'feedback' in the interplay of means and ends, and the ways in which developing skills in turn stimulate new demands. Gombrich explores in depth such specific aspects of the uses of images as the hanging of pictures and the use (or misuse) of images as historical evidence. Extensive in its scope and surgically precise in its focus, The Uses of Images signifies yet another landmark corpus of work by the prolific Professor Gombrich, in a subtle but striking tour de force.

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Author information

Sir Ernst Gombrich was one of the greatest and least conventional art historians of his age, achieving fame and distinction in three separate spheres: as a scholar, as a popularizer of art, and as a pioneer of the application of the psychology of perception to the study of art. His best-known book, The Story of Art - first published 50 years ago and now in its sixteenth edition - is one of the most influential books ever written about art. His books further include The Sense of Order (1979) and The Preference for the Primitive (2002), as well as a total of 11 volumes of collected essays and reviews. Gombrich was born in Vienna in 1909 and died in London in November 2001. He came to London in 1936 to work at the Warburg Institute, where he eventually became Director from 1959 until his retirement in 1976. He won numerous international honours, including a knighthood, the Order of Merit and the Goethe, Hegel and Erasmus prizes. Gifted with a powerful mind and prodigious memory, he was also an outstanding communicator, with a clear and forceful prose style. His works are models of good art-historical writing, and reflect his humanism and his deep and abiding concern with the standards and values of our cultural heritage.

Review quote

'It is, of course, wonderful.' (Paris Free Voice) 'He makes his lateral thinking and writing accessible to everyone, from politically-minded students to Sunday gallery visitors to the most rococo academics (the kind who never learn from his style)... The range of illustrations, though all black and white, is enormous; the range overall is that of a great teacher's mind at work and at play.' (RTE, Ireland) 'Gombrich has a genius - for once that is the mot juste - for presenting complex and highly original arguments not just with exceptional lucidity, but also with wit. For any reader who has heard him lecture, the mesmerising charm of his inimitable if much imitated speaking voice leaps off the page ... ' (Apollo)

Editorial reviews

In a wide-ranging discussion which takes in both 'high' and 'low' art from fresco painting to outdoor sculpture, caricature and political propaganda, the art history master Gombrich returns to some familiar themes - the function of images and how they change over time. Further aspects of the uses of images are explored in his essays on the hanging of pictures and on the use (or misuse) of images as historical evidence. (Kirkus UK)

Table of contents

Means and ends - reflections on the history of fresco painting; evolution in the arts - the altar painting, its ancestry and progeny; supply and demand in the evolution of styles - the example of international Gothic; pictures for the home; sculptures for outdoors; the dream of reason -symbolism of the French Revolution; magic, myth and metaphor - reflections on pictorial satire; pleasures of boredom - four centuries of doodles; pictorial instructions; what art tells us; styles of art and styles of life.