1st Edition

Michael Baxandall, Vision and the Work of Words

By Peter Mack, Robert Williams Copyright 2015
    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    'The most important art historian of his generation’ is how some scholars have described the late Michael Baxandall (1933-2007), Professor of the Classical Tradition at the Warburg Institute, University of London, and of the History of Art at the University of California, Berkeley. Baxandall’s work had a transformative effect on the study of European Renaissance and eighteenth-century art, and contributed to a complex transition in the aims and methods of art history in general during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. While influential, he was also an especially subtle and independent thinker - occasionally a controversial one - and many of the implications of his work have yet to be fully understood and assimilated. This collection of 10 essays endeavors to assess the nature of Baxandall’s achievement, and in particular to address the issue of the challenges it offers to the practice of art history today. This volume provides the most comprehensive assessment of Baxandall’s work to date, while drawing upon the archive of Baxandall papers recently deposited at the Cambridge University Library and the Warburg Institute.

    Contents: Introduction: Of tact and moral urgency; The visual conditions of pictorial meaning, Alex Potts; ‘To do a Leavis on visual art:’ the place of F.R. Leavis in Michael Baxandall’s intellectual formation, Jules Lubbock; Baxandall and Gramsci: pictorial intelligence and organic intellectuals, Alberto Frigo; Art history, re-enactment, and the idiographic stance, Whitney Davis; Inferential criticism and Kunstwissenschaft, Robert Williams; The presence of light, Paul Hills; Printing and experience in 18th-century Italy, Evelyn Lincoln; Pattern and individual: Limewood Sculptors and A Grasp Of Kaspar, Peter Mack; Michael Baxandall’s ‘stationing’, Elizabeth Cook; Index.


    Peter Mack is Professor of English at the University of Warwick and a Fellow of the British Academy, UK. Robert Williams is Professor of the History of Art at the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA.

    'The book is a palpable record of a powerful mind.'

    --CAA Reviews

    'Adopting a range of approaches, the contributors to this volume make a compelling case for the ongoing importance of Baxandall's art historical writing. Revealing the succession of intellectual identities that constituted his extraordinary career, we re-discover the Leavis disciple and "Burkhardtian" Renaissance historian of the 1950s; the philological student of humanist writing on art that emerged in the following decade; the social historian of the 1970s; and the "inferential critic" of the 80s and 90s together with the late return to the Renaissance in Words for Pictures. Anyone who cares about the role of history and criticism in writing about art will want to read this book.'

    --Stephen Campbell, Johns Hopkins University, USA