Art Theory: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780192804631

Cynthia A. Freeland
184 Pages
112 x 177 mm
Pub date
Feb 2003
Very Short Introductions


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  • 'profoundly refreshing and satisfying ... Freeland's energetic and engaging voice breezily guides the reader, while employing an astonishing array of examples to illuminate and activate her explications.' (Don Bacigalupi, Director, San Diego Museum of Art)
  • Up-to-date and future-oriented: devotes a chapter to art on the web, video art, art museum CD-ROMs and various theorists of the new media and of postmodern art
  • Illustrated with a wide range of salient images
  • Discusses topical artists like Andres Serrano and Damien Hirst as well as more historical examples like Goya and Velazquez
  • The style is clear, lively, and humorous

In today's art world many strange, even shocking, things qualify as art. In this Very Short Introduction Cynthia Freeland explains why innovation and controversy are valued in the arts, weaving together philosophy and art theory with many fascinating examples. 

She discusses blood, beauty, culture, money, museums, sex, and politics, clarifying contemporary and historical accounts of the nature, function, and interpretation of the arts. Freeland also propels us into the future by surveying cutting-edge web sites, alongside the latest research on the brain's role in perceiving art. 

This clear, provocative book engages with the big debates surrounding our responses to art and is an invaluable introduction to anyone interested in thinking about art. 


"Mouthwatering design-compact, colorful, sturdy. Can travel in one's pocket." - Walks of Art, Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju

"Admirable for its compactness, reader-friendliness, this 'very short introduction' is nevertheless notable for its wide-ranging discussion of matters germane to the field of contemporary art. Should be a treat for the art-lovers amongst the academics." - U.S.I. Journal


List of Illustrations
1: Blood and Beauty
2: Paradigms and Purposes
3: Cultural Crossings
4: Money, Markets, Museums
5: Gender, Genius, and Guerrilla Girls
6: Cognition, Creation, Comprehension
7: Digitizing and Disseminating
Further Reading

About the author: 

Cynthia A. Freeland is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Houston. She has published on topics in the philosophy of art and film, ancient Greek philosophy, and feminist theory. She is also author of The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror (1999) and co-editor of Philosophy and Film (1995).

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