Glittering Images A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars5stars

 

 

Relearn How to See

By Camille Paglia

Pantheon, $30.00, 202 pages

Each day we are bombarded by television, movies, advertisements, signs, magazines and art. When our brains can’t take any more, certain visual elements from our world lose their importance and fade into the background. Camille Paglia, author and Professor of Humanities and Media Studies, refers to this overwhelming amount of data as “jittery visual clutter” and suggests that we must relearn how to see in order to enjoy and understand what we see. Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars is Paglia’s attempt to help readers relearn how to see art. She focuses on Western art, beginning with a painting of Queen Nefertari located in the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens in Luxor, Egypt. Most people would glance at the painting and notice a few details and then move on. Paglia, like any great art history teacher, brings the painting to life by sharing the historical background of Egypt art techniques used and the story of Nefertari and Isis. Then she expertly analyzes the painting itself. She moves through the work of artists like Monet and Picasso but also includes Renee Cox and George Lucas. Paglia’s writing style is academic but very reader friendly. In later chapters, when she writes about performance art, her knowledge and love of the subject becomes clear as she provides example after example of her points. Readers looking for a good book about art and cultural history will want to relearn everything Paglia has to say.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Franklin

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