1st Edition

The Uses of Excess in Visual and Material Culture, 1600–2010

Edited By Julia Skelly Copyright 2014
    328 Pages
    by Routledge

    326 Pages
    by Routledge

    Directing unprecedented attention to how the idea of ’excess’ has been used by both producers and consumers of visual and material culture, this collection examines the discursive construction of excess in relation to art, material goods and people in various global contexts. The contributors illuminate how excess has been perceived, quantified and constructed, revealing in the process how beliefs about excess have changed over time and how they have remained consistent. The collection as a whole underscores the fact that the concept of excess must always be considered critically, whether in scholarship or in lived experience. Although the idea of excess has often been used to shame and degrade, many of the essays in this collection demonstrate how it has also been used as a strategy for self-fashioning, transgression and empowerment, particularly by women and queer subjects. This volume examines a range of material, including diamonds, ceramics, paintings, dollhouses, caricatures, interior design and theatrical performances. Each case study sheds new light on how excess was used in a specific cultural context, including canonical sites of study such as the Netherlands in the eighteenth century, Victorian Britain and Paris in the 1920s, and under-studied contexts such as Canada and Sweden.

    Contents: Introduction: the uses of excess, Julia Skelly; All that glitters: diamonds and constructions of nabobery in British portraits, 1600-1800, Romita Ray; ’Every other place it could be placed with advantage’: ladies-in-waiting at the British court and the ’excessive’ display of ceramics as art objects, 1689-1740, Eric Weichel; Consuming excess: pronk poppenhuisen and the dollhouses of Sara Rothé, Michelle Moseley-Christian; Exotic, fetish, virtual: visual excess in Victorian painting, Julie Codell; Excess on the walls: Victorian exhibition culture and anxieties of art and commerce, Anne Helmreich; The paradox of excess: Oscar Wilde, caricature, and consumption, Julia Skelly; Toronto’s Casa Loma: from nostalgia to glamour and back again, Alla Myzelev; Homosexuality/modernism/nationalism: between excess and exile in 1920s Europe, John Potvin; Excesses of the bawdy body: John Wentworth Russell and his modern girls, 1927-1935, Karen Stanworth; For the love of God: excess, ambivalence, and Damien Hirst’s diamond skull, Jeremy Biles; ’Your asshole is hanging outside of your body?’: excess, AIDS, and shame in the theatre of Sky Gilbert, Dirk Gindt; Index.


    Julia Skelly is an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, and author of Addiction and British Visual Culture, 1751-1919 - Wasted Looks (Ashgate, 2014).

    'This is a splendid collection of essays dealing with the topic of excess in material and visual culture. Each contribution is thought-provoking and, what is more, enjoyable to read. The volume is cohesive yet far-reaching, effectively demonstrating how the same subject of excess informs many different discourses, places and times. Thus compelling connections are made among such seemingly disparate topics as diamonds in 17th- and 18th-century British portraits of British nabobs, elaborate dollhouses collected in Holland, decorative objects in Pre-Raphaelite paintings, convergences of exile, queerness and nationalism in avant-garde Europe, and the provocative ’excessive’ works of contemporary figures including artist Damien Hirst and playwright Sky Gilbert, to name a few.' Heidi Brevik-Zender, University of California, Riverside, USA and author of Fashioning Spaces: Mode and Modernity in Late-Nineteenth-Century Paris