Lorenzetti's frescoes in Siena serve as the starting point of Ian Heywood's critical work, as well as the initial occurrence of the recurring city motif which he utilizes to reveal the connections between theory, discourse, language, and modernity. The city, as Heywood shows, is a symbol of collective life and the social bond and is directly related to the equally powerful motif, and question, of language.
Social Theories of Art offers a criticism of influential theoretical work that identifies both the poverty of much contemporary "art theory" and the important but underacknowledged ethical implications of theorizing. Operating through the writings of Becker, Wolff, BAA1/4rger, and others, Heywood shows how, despite these theorists' efforts to identify art's distinctive value, their theoretical accounts are degraded by reductionism and social violence. Heywood then broadens his canvas to explore the notion of ethical reflexivity to conclude with a consideration of the gap between the actual and the theoretical aspects of art.
Heywood writes clearly, illuminating the problematic relationship between seminar and studio, and his findings will hold interest for students of art history, fine art, sociology, and philosophy.