Review by Choice Review
A major new work by Upton (Univ. of California-Berkeley), this is a thorough reinterpretation of the history of architecture in the US. The perspective is versatile, and one sees the built environment not in the usual chronology of dates, elite designers, and supposedly important designs, but according to nuances and flows of time in which vernacular architecture, cultural regions, local materials, consumers' desires, and inherited traditions are as important as lists of names and dates. This approach permits learning about the tremendous versatility among many US architectural heritages spanning some 3,000 years of awkward accumulation on the land. Upton places US building categories of community, nature, technology, money, and art and gives weight to the everyday building and builder as much as to famous architects and high style structures. This book is outstanding. In addition to being beautifully illustrated, well written, and attractive to the general reader, it will--as soon as professors read and digest it fully--become the standard text in college surveys. Both a graceful introduction and a significant contribution to the fields of historical understanding. Very highly recommended. All levels. H. W. Marshall; University of Missouri--Columbia
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
The second set of volumes in the Oxford History of Art series, all well illustrated, accessible, and vigorous, offers fresh and penetrating views of sharply defined spheres of art, as did the initial group of five titles, published a year ago. The most unusual of the set is The Art of Art History, edited by Preziosi, head of the art history critical theory program at the University of California. A groundbreaking anthology, it showcases and assesses the various perspectives art critics and art historians have employed over the years, from Immanuel Kant to Ernst Gombrich, Meyer Schapiro, Michel Foucault, and Rosalind Krauss. It's been said that no new approach to art can be "seen," that is, comprehended and appreciated, without interpretation. To paraphrase Preziosi, art history makes the visible legible. So how have his colleagues performed this generous art? British art historian Causey sifts through the complex output of postwar sculptors in his contribution, skillfully discussing the diverse work of European and American artists. It must be said that he overemphasizes the artists of his own country, an excusable bias given the great gifts of Henry Moore and Tony Cragg, but he also commits some deplorable omissions, particularly when it comes to women artists. Still, given Causey's conciseness and the fine quality of his observations, the book can be considered a handy introduction to the field. Patton, a Romare Bearden expert, is above reproach, having done a superb job of elucidating the various aesthetic and political movements that have shaped the evolution of African American art, a tradition both spurred and hampered by racism. Beginning in colonial times and working her way to the present, she covers every conceivable visual medium and explores the work of well-known artists as well as those with less-familiar names. Last but not least is Upton's brisk survey of architecture in the U.S. It does all that a broad study of a nation's buildings must do; it takes every facet of society into account--from religion to attitudes toward nature, ethics, art, community, politics, technology, commerce, and self-definition. --Donna Seaman
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Upton has attempted a historical survey that includes contributions by all parts of the United States population. Ancient works of Native Americans and by America's numerous "minority" immigrants are interwoven with the Eurocentric canon with which we are most familiar. Upton resists a chronological presentation of these diverse works, choosing instead to present them through common "themes": community, nature, technology, money and art. Spare on the meaning of visual and physical effects created by architecture, his analyses concentrate on social divisions implied and created by the works. Upton shows, quite convincingly, how most of the American canon is derived from a pastiche of imported images, and gives some considerable insight into the effects of these imports. Jefferson's Monticello, often seen as the first masterwork of American architecture, is derived from various published images of European villas, with a plan that sought to reinforce a lord-servant relationship between Jefferson and his many employees. Major monuments, such as the Nebraska State Capitol, and recent urban projects, such as Florida's Seaside, are similarly deconstructed to show the exclusionary ideology behind their designs. While there are plenty of quick and not terribly helpful laments for the excluded peoples of this country, Upton shows, concrete piece by concrete piece, the complex influences on this country's built environment. Illustrations. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved