Tell us a story

LoveReading is thrilled to announce the launch of The Very Short Story Award 2019! If you think you have a story we'll love, click here to find out more and how to enter:

Find out more

Visuality and Virtuality Images and Pictures from Prehistory to Perspective

by Whitney Davis

Visuality and Virtuality Images and Pictures from Prehistory to Perspective Synopsis

A provocative and challenging new conceptual framework for the study of images This book builds on the groundbreaking theoretical framework established in Whitney Davis's acclaimed previous book, A General Theory of Visual Culture, in which he shows how certain culturally constituted aspects of artifacts and pictures are visible to informed viewers. Here, Davis uses revealing archaeological and historical case studies to further develop his theory, presenting an exacting new account of the interaction that occurs when a viewer looks at a picture. Davis argues that pictoriality--the depiction intended by its maker to be seen--emerges at a particular standpoint in space and time. Reconstruction of this standpoint is the first step of the art historian's craft. Because standpoints are inherently mutable and mobile, pictoriality constantly shifts in form and possible meaning. To capture this complexity, Davis develops new concepts of radical pictorial ambiguity, including bivisibility (the fact that pictures can always be seen in ways other than intended), pictorial naturalism, and the behavior of pictures under changing angles of view. He then applies these concepts to four cases--Paleolithic cave painting; ancient Egyptian tomb decoration; classical Greek architectural sculpture, with a focus on the Parthenon frieze; and Renaissance perspective as invented by Brunelleschi. A profound new theory of the work of both makers and viewers by one of the discipline's most esteemed and engaged thinkers, Visuality and Virtuality is essential reading for art historians, architects, archaeologists, and philosophers of art and visual theory.

Visuality and Virtuality Images and Pictures from Prehistory to Perspective Press Reviews

Visuality and Virtuality is a magisterial work both in conception and execution. This is art history at its very best. --James D. Herbert, author of Brushstroke and Emergence: Courbet, Impressionism, Picasso Here at last is a theory of art history that is insistently visual. One of the pleasures of reading Davis is that one feels once again that giants walk the land. --John Onians, author of Neuroarthistory: From Aristotle and Pliny to Baxandall and Zeki

Book Information

ISBN: 9780691171944
Publication date: 10th October 2017
Author: Whitney Davis
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 368 pages
Categories: Theory of art, History of art / art & design styles, Media studies,

About Whitney Davis

Whitney Davis is the George C. and Helen N. Pardee Professor of History and Theory of Ancient and Modern Art at the University of California, Berkeley. His many books include A General Theory of Visual Culture (Princeton) and Queer Beauty: Sexuality and Aesthetics from Winckelmann to Freud and Beyond.

More About Whitney Davis

Share this book