Art, Design and Visual Culture: An Introduction by Malcolm Barnard

By Malcolm Barnard

This interesting exam of visible event bargains an evidence and evaluation of the conventional technique of interpreting visible tradition. such a lot of our adventure is visual--we receive such a lot of our details and information via sight, even if from studying books and newspapers, from gazing tv, or from speedy glimpsing street indicators. lots of our judgments and judgements, in addition to our leisure and game, are in keeping with the visible event. utilizing a variety of ancient and modern examples, this booklet argues that the teams which artists and architects shape, the audiences and markets which they promote to, and the various social periods that are produced and reproduced through paintings and layout are all a part of the profitable rationalization and significant review of visible culture.

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Similarly, the things that these subcultural groups wear (from the military caps and chains of the Greasers to the berets favoured by Acid Jazz fans) would not have counted as culture on Clark's account. Clothing and fashion are never mentioned in Clark's account of 'civilisation', because they are not part of the 'high culture' that he is concerned With. These subcultural groups will use materials and styles that are explicitly not those of the dominant classes. They are oppositional in this sense and do not always simply reproduce the social order in the way that culture in Civilisation and Cult Objects often does.

The institutions are often those he himself is a member of or has been honoured by. The dominant institutions are royalty, the church, Oxford University and the various high-status galleries, such as the Ashmolean and the National. These are representatives of what is often referred to as the Establishment. Again, they are the institutions that are familiar to a certain class or group of people that are presented as the institutions of civilisation. The book contains few references to women, or 'ladies', as Clark often calls them.

What is actually going on in Clark's text, however, is that what has been called 'high culture', the culture of a dominant and elite social group is being presented as the only civilising factor in the whole western world. Other potential civilising factors, such as those that come from the dominated social groups (in this case women, other ethnic groups and the working classes), are ignored, with the implication that they are not culture and thus not civilisation. The defin ition of 'civilisation' that the book relies upon is very rarely made explicit.

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