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The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art [Hardcover]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   186
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.05 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 25, 2004
Publisher   Encounter Books
ISBN  1893554864  
EAN  9781893554863  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Colleges and universities used to teach art history to encourage connoisseurship and acquaint students with the riches of our artistic heritage. But now, as Roger Kimball shows in this witty and provocative book, the student is less likely to learn about the aesthetics of master works than be told, for instance, that Peter Paul Rubens's great painting "Drunken Silenus" is an allegory about anal rape. Or that Courbet's famous hunting pictures are psycho-dramas about "castration anxiety." Or that Gauguin's "Manao tupapau" is an example of the way repression is "written on the bodies of women." Or that Jan van Eyck's masterful Arnolfini Portrait is about "middle-class deceptions...and the treatment of women." Or that Mark Rothko's abstract "White Band (Number 27)" "parallels the pictorial structure of a pieta." Or that Winslow Homer's "The Gulf Stream" is "a visual encoding of racism." In The Rape of the Masters, Kimball, a noted art critic himself, show how academic art history is increasingly held hostage to radical cultural politics-feminism, cultural studies, post-colonial studies, the whole armory of academic anti-humanism. To make his point, Kimball shows how eight famous works of art (reprinted here as illustrations) have been made over to fit a radical ideological fantasy. Kimball then performs a series of intellectual rescue operations, showing how these great works should be understood through a series of illuminating readings in which art, not politics, guides the discussion. The Rape of the Masters exposes the charlatanry the fuels much academic art history and leaks into the art world generally, affecting galleries, museums and catalogues. It also provides an engaging antidote to the tendentious, politically motivated assaults on our treasured sources of culture and civilization.

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More About Roger Kimball

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Kimball is managing editor of The New Criterion and a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal, he has taught at Yale and Connecticut College

Roger Kimball currently resides in Norwalk, in the state of Connecticut. Roger Kimball was born in 1953.

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1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Art History > Criticism   [910  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
The PC Battle Shifts to Art  Aug 12, 2008
In THE RAPE OF THE MASTERS, Roger Kimball, a conservative critic of art and literature, takes to task the entire spectrum of political correctness that he sees as ultimately destructive to a western and humanitarian based culture of art. In his many other books on the corrosive effects of PC and postmodern ethos, Kimball decries how traditionally based theories of the lack of a universal goodness of humanity and the concept that there are no absolute truths that transcend politics have slimed their way from literature to art. Kimball considers several examples of postmodern criticism of art. What he notices about these critiques is the same that he has noted vis a vis literature:
1) There is no such thing as a universal goodness of humanity. All literature and art must reflect their inner subversiveness.
2) All art must be viewed under the ideological prism of politics and that politics must be in lock step with Derrida, Foucault, Culler.
3) All art must have a hidden sexual subtext, the kinkier the better.
4) The prose style of all discussion must be couched in the very nearly impenetrable jargon of the pomos that demand the overuse of such trite terms as "subversive" "unmasking" "signifier" and "reductive"

What becomes clear after reading Kimball's text is that the unhappy fate to which literature has endured must now be similarly endured by art. Thus the "rape" of the masters.
Crimes Committed for the Future  Jul 14, 2007
Aside from many trips to the dictionary due to the fact Mr. Kimball has an enormous and delicious vocabulary, I found this book to be informative but mostly full of opportunites to chuckle. It's no surprise that given the trends in academia, the role of art critic has evolved into the practical, obedient soldier that serves a greater "social" purpose aligned with postmodernist philosophies that tend to politicize everything. However at some point, should we readily believe or not question these scholars, we could become unmoored from our sensory selves, our spirits, our inner mysteries that draw us to themes in an unplanned way. Then, we will listen to anything, we will like anything, or if we are told, we can be taught to like something. This undermines the aesthetic value of art. Moreover, if today's art critic is evaluating works via a constricted predictable prism, then my fear is that "artists" will produce to please the critics.

I have to say, as a female, I found the constant feminist and gender interpretations silly, especially with Sargent's "The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit" and with Gauguin's "Spirit of the Dead Watching". Aside from the tremendous fatigue of reading the examples of group-speak, I felt that these critics were trying to kill the first-impression appeal of the works. It made me feel as if I were at a crime scene.

In essence, Mr. Kimball demonstrates that the superimposition of current petit theories on great works has permeated art departments in higher education, just as this narrow tendency to evaluate phenomena has permeated other departments. He closes with an apropos quote from Oscar Wilde, reminding us that overcomplication may serve the interests of the viewer and not the object: "Only a shallow person does not judge by appearances."
Exposes "Theory" As An Intellectual Sewer  Jul 13, 2007
The "theory" people (deconstructionism, postmodernism, poststructuralism, ad infinitum, ad nauseum) have had their way with our intellectual life. Kimball exposes their work for the scam that it is. We've polluted the minds of our children, lost our own intellectual history, destroyed truth, and removed beauty because so few voices have been willing to rise in opposition to the self-referential and self-important Academy. Bravo Roger Kimball. What art "means" is perhaps not always easy, but it's certainly not what some intellectual cretin decides to invent to support their puerile theories. An A+ book that every thinking person ought to read - especially before they send their children to the Academy for political re-education ...
Less Manners, More Teeth..Please  Jun 20, 2007
Most people by now are familiar with the term "artspeak", which refers to the dissembling, pompous form of obfuscation which is used, purposefully, to hoodwink people who would like to be free to form their own opinions and judgments about art.

The primary perpetrators of artspeak are art critics and art historians--and also, notably, contemporary artists. In this book, Roger Kimball (himself a critic and historian) takes the first two examples on. He convincingly shows, by using a common sense approach and level-headed prose, that many art critics are more devoted to gamesmanship and specious reasoning than to scholarship. In the last chapter, Kimball reveals that the purpose of his book is to provide a "b.s. detector" for the common man.

Well and good. This is an entertaining book with a wealth of information about the examples it covers. But it's also a bit recherche in that its scope is very limited. To engage in an esoteric battle over 7 examples of iconic art is merely to address the nose of the camel. The problem is that most people really couldn't give a fig about art historians and their quarrels.

The book would have been more effective, and more relevant, if it had addressed the full establishment of the art world as it is today. Kimball could have further addressed and provided examples of contemporary art which, in his words, "have been elevated from the mediocre through false aggrandizement." He could have examined the effects of political correctness in the college art departments, the galleries and the museums--where people encounter some of the truly awful results of the failure to instill craft and honesty in students of art today.

"Rape of the Masters" is a pleasant and erudite book that addresses some foolishness regarding modern interpretations of classic art---interesting, but only a sideshow to some of the real and heavy damage that's going on. The book is simply in need of less formal manners, and a lot more teeth.
Killing of Art  Mar 29, 2007
Amazing. Similar to the "Killing of History," showing how similar tactics are applied in the art world. Illustrates how modern art historians and interpreters are engaged in replacing actual experiencing of art with theories of art, political relevance, the commentator's free associations - in short, with text, rather than visual response and contemplation of the actual presentation.

A related goal of the intelligentsia of this ilk is to present emotions as superior to the intellect, specifically as guides and motivators to producing, understanding, and appreciating art (and, by extension, life in general - including politics).

The irrational lengths these critics go to is bewildering; and that they are accepted in so many circles is frightening. Shows a widespread lack of intellectual discrimination.

The author provides an entertaining illustration of how postmodernism is the deadend of irrationalism. Denying the usefulness of reason even for its own ideas. All it leaves is emotionalism. Western culture appears to be on a slippery slope of intellectual incompetence, plunging into a dark age (bloody and mystical), or, hopefully, a rebirth of the Enlightenment spirit of reason will emerge thanks to books such as this.

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