Art Explained: The World's Greatest Paintings Explored and by Robert Cumming

By Robert Cumming

Taking an unique photographic method of glance intimately at sure themes, those 4 interesting books supply deeper realizing and richer delight in the worlds of structure, artwork, recognized artists, and myths and legends. writer BIO: Robert Cumming has been the chairman of Christie's schooling, London, studied paintings heritage at Cambridge collage, and his books have gained a number of overseas awards and comprise Just glance, simply Imagine, and Looking into Paintings.

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To invoke Shakespeare again, 'All the world's a stage', but there is of course a difference between being in the world and being on stage; although we may speak of 'playing a role' in society, we are really thinking of such things as the jobs we may perform, we do not mean to imply that our self, our 'individuality' has in any way been 'written' elsewhere. The Absence of Presence 41 The common-sense view, the one which just seems obvious, is that we are each born into the world as a little 'self' which is just as much simply there psychologically as it is physiologically - a little seed of individuality which over time sprouts to form the adult subject we eventually become; but psychoanalysis has built up a different picture: we become what we are only through our encounter, while growing up, with the multitude of representations of what we may become - the various positions that society allocates to us.

Art practice has not been 'surpassed by and a 28 The End of Art Theory in the media' (Enzensburger), nor is it a sanctuary for 'higher' values, as Greenberg would have it. But this brings us closer to the historical issue. We began with the question of the appropriation of semiotics to Modernism; throughout the positions sketched above is a tendency to place the artist, the intellectual, always on the privileged side of the break between real and imaginary, science and ideology. Such confidence occludes the current problem common to both art 'theorists' and 'practitioners' (a division of labour which is part of the problem): The continuing appropriation of culture in general as the place from which a class (and/or 'the intelligentsia') hands down its own Name.

67 But 1956 was also the year of Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin at the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU. The Cold War 'thaw' which followed released a flood of modern American art upon the world in a series of US Government and Industry sponsored exhibitions. Much of the work toured was the 'abstract' art which had previously been considered politically subversive simply because it offended the philistinism of conservative politicians. Increasingly, however, abstraction came to connote not 'Bolshevism' but, by virtue of the difference it established in opposition to official Soviet socialist realism, 'freedom of expression' (Eco has described the mechanism of such inversions of ideological evaluation in terms of code switching6B).

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