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Desire and Excess : The Nineteenth-Century Culture of Art - Jonah Siegel

Desire and Excess

The Nineteenth-Century Culture of Art

Paperback Published: 20th August 2000
ISBN: 9780691049144
Number Of Pages: 328

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In this fascinating look at the creative power of institutions, Jonah Siegel explores the rise of the modern idea of the artist in the nineteenth century, a period that also witnessed the emergence of the museum and the professional critic. Treating these developments as interrelated, he analyzes both visual material and literary texts to portray a culture in which art came to be thought of in powerful new ways. Ultimately, Siegel shows that artistic controversies commonly associated with the self-consciously radical movements of modernism and postmodernism have their roots in a dynamic era unfairly characterized as staid, self-satisfied, and stable.

The nineteenth century has been called the Age of the Museum, and yet critics, art theorists, and poets during this period grappled with the question of whether the proliferation of museums might lead to the death of Art itself. Did the assembly and display of works of art help the viewer to understand them or did it numb the senses? How was the contemporary artist to respond to the vast storehouses of art from disparate nations and periods that came to proliferate in this era?

Siegel presents a lively discussion of the shock experienced by neoclassical artists troubled by remains of antiquity that were trivial or even obscene, as well as the anxious aesthetic reveries of nineteenth-century art lovers overwhelmed by the quantity of objects quickly crowding museums and exhibition halls. In so doing, he illuminates the fruitful crises provoked when the longing for admired art is suddenly satisfied. Drawing upon neoclassical art and theory, biographies of early nineteenth-century writers including Keats and Scott, and the writings of art critics such as Hazlitt, Ruskin, and Wilde, this book reproduces a cultural matrix that brings to life the artistic passions and anxieties of an entire era.

"Desire and Excess is rich in ... luminous insights, [and is] beautifully expressed... The strength of [Siegal's book] lies in how vividly [it] evoke[s] a visual life for nineteenth-century Britons that makes us feel as if we see what they saw."--Gillen D'Arcy Wood, The Wordsworth Circle "This is an extensive and ambitious study... Siegel's book is the product of many years of thought and research... [T]he central argument is compelling. The artists and critics of the nineteenth century are not, as they are sometimes thought to be, of one mind about the nature and role of art, and of the museums that house collections of art. The questions that worried them are complex and testing, and they are still unresolved."--Dinah Birch, Times Literary Supplement "[A] subtly argued, richly textured, and gracefully written study of the interwoven histories of the figure of the artist and museum culture in the nineteenth-century Britain."--Hilary Fraser, Nineteenth-Century Literature

List of Figuresp. vii
Acknowledgmentp. xi
Preface: The Apparent Permanence of the Museum as Against
Its Actual Permanence: The Nineteenth-Century Culture of Artp. xv
Introduction: The Museum as Mortuaryp. 3
Part in the Museum: Artist and Fragment at the turn of the Nineteenth Centuryp. 15
David and Fuseli: The Artist in the Museum, the Museum in tHe Work of Artp. 17
David: The Oathsp. 18
Fuseli: Before Ruinsp. 28
""Monuments of Pure Antiquity"": The Challenge of the Object in Neocla
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691049144
ISBN-10: 0691049149
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 328
Published: 20th August 2000
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.24  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.64