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Critical Terms for Art History
by Robert S. Nelson (Editor), Richard Shiff (Editor)
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Paperback (July 1996)
University of Chicago Press; ISBN: 0226571653 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.94 x 9.36 x 6.64
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  From: Matt Maldre <>
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2000 16:43:02 -0600

Last week, I posted a goofy list of what some art theory terms mean. But more seriously now, I recommend a book that tackles some critical terms in a more academic manner.

"Critical Terms for Art History" edited by Robert S. Nelson and Richard Shiff takes on terms such as:

Representation, Sign, Simulacrum, Word and Image, Narrative, Context, Meaning/Interpretation, Originality, Appropriation, Art History, Modernism, Avant-Garde, Primitive, Ritual, Fetish, Gaze, Gender, Modes of Production, Commodity, Collecting/Museums, Value, Postmodernism/Postcolonialism, and Figuration

Each individual term is explored by its own essay. Each essay is written by a different author (mostly in the 80s and 90s). These essays are around 14 pages long, so these terms are explored rather in depth. The writing is so thick in this book it takes a good chainsaw to hack through 'em. But the effort is well worth it.

My favorite essay so far is the one on Simulacrum.

{{From the back cover of this book:
...In individual essays, scholars examine the history and use of these terms by grounding their discussions in single works of art and reading each work through current debates and methods. This instructive combination of theory and practice allow readers to examine the terms as they are being employed...
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