A World Art History and Its Objects 9780271036069

Is writing a world art history possible? Does the history of art as such even exist outside the Western tradition? Is it

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A World Art History and Its Objects
 9780271036069

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A W o r l d A r t H is to r y and It s Ob je c t s

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A W or ld A r t H i sto r y a n d I t s O b j e ct s

Da v i d Ca r r i e r

Th e P e n n s y l v a n i a S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s University Park, Pennsylvania

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Carrier, David, 1944– A world art history and its objects / David Carrier. p.      cm. Summary: “Explores the question of how an art history of all cultures could be written or if it is even possible to do so. Examines the political and moral issues raised by the consideration of a multicultural art history”—Provided by publisher. Includes bibliographical references and index. isbn 978-0-271-03414-0 (cloth : alk. paper) 1. Art—Historiography—Methodology. 2. Art—Historiography—Moral and ethical aspects. 3. Politics and culture. I. Title. N380.C38 2008 707.2’2—dc22 2008015857

Copyright © 2008 The Pennsylvania State University All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America Published by The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA 16802-1003 The Pennsylvania State University Press is a member of the Association of American University Presses. It is the policy of The Pennsylvania State University Press to use acid-free paper. This book is printed on Natures Natural, containing 50% post-consumer waste, and meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Material, ansi z39.48–1992.

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The man who orders together many occurrences into a plan, into a vision—he is . . . the true historical artist, the painter of a great painting of the most excellent composition; he is . . . the true creator of a history. —johann gottfried von herder

Once the Italians got wind of Arab optics, the whole globe was up for grabs. —richard powers

Pour l’enfant, amoureux de cartes et d’estampes, L’univers est égal à son vaste appétit. —charles baudelaire

For James Elkins, Jonathan Gilmore, and Michael Ann Holly And in memory of Richard Wollheim (1923–2004)

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C o n t e nts

List of Figures and Diagrams   ix Preface   xi Acknowledgments   xvii Introduction   xxiii Overture: Islamic Carpets in European Paintings   1 1 Works of Art and Art-Historical Narratives   21 2 Monocultural Art-History Narratives   27 3 Why Monoculturalism Is Not the Whole Story   35 4 What Happens When Art-Making Traditions Intersect   47 5 Charts and Works of Art   61 6 The Importance of an Aesthetic   75 7 Exotic Aesthetics   91 8 How Exotic Can Exotic Art Be?   105 9 Our World Art History Is Imperialism Seen Aesthetically   117 10 Mutual Respect as an Ethical Ideal   131 Conclusion: The Coming Transformation of Western Art History   143 Selective Annotated Bibliography   155 Index   167

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F i g u r e s a n d Diagr am s

figures 1. Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434. National Gallery, London. Photo: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, New York. 2. Hans Holbein, The Ambassadors, 1533. National Gallery, London. Photo: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, New York. 3. Lorenzo Lotto, Madonna with Saints, 1521. S. Spirito, Bergamo. Photo: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, New York. 4. Giovanni Mansueti, Miracle at the Bridge of San Lio, 1494. Accademia, Venice. Photo: Cameraphoto Arte, Venice/Art Resource, New York. 5. Raphael, Madonna della Sedia (with frame), c. 1516. Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Photo: Scala/Art Resource, New York. 6. Gentile Bellini with Giovanni Bellini, Saint Mark Preaching in Alexandria, 1504–7. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan. Photo: Scala/Art Resource, New York. 7. Rug of war. In The Rugs of War, by Tim Bonyhady and Nigel Lendon (Canberra: Australian National University, 2003), and on the Rugs of War Web site, http:sts-dev.anu.edu.au/rugsofwar. 8. Simon Patterson, The Great Bear, 1992. © Simon Patterson and Transport for London, 1992. 9. Giotto di Bondone, Betrayal of Christ, 1304–6. Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy. Photo: Scala/Art Resource, New York. 10. Rogier van der Weyden, The Crucifixion, with the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist Mourning, 1460–65. Philadelphia Museum of Art. 11. Titian, The Flaying of Marsyas, 1570–76. Archbishop’s Palace, Kromeriz, Czech Republic. Photo: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, New York. diagrams

1. Time line of Poussin’s career 2. Ernst Gombrich’s Art and Illusion 3. Vasari’s history 4. Hegel’s history 5. Gombrich’s history 6. Greenberg’s history 7. Parallel time lines for art in Europe and China

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8. World art history 9. Events of ca. 1450 10. Elina’s long life 11. Merging 12. Ching’s life 13. The style matrix

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P r e fac e

In 1991 I published Principles of Art History Writing, a book on the methodology of art history. In 2004 China Renmin University Press brought out a Chinese translation. Wondering how readers in China would understand my account, I added a new preface: To what extent can the analysis presented in this book apply also to non-Western art? That question is very hard to answer. China has a very long history of art that differs dramatically from the story of art in the West. In your country, naturalism developed earlier; the religious traditions were very different from those of European Christian culture; and the importance of calligraphy meant that the relationship between painting and writing was understood very differently. Present-day Western scholars are very sensitive to the dangers of Eurocentricism. We are aware that any adequate theory of art must deal with the art of all cultures. Since the late nineteenth century Chinese painting has been collected in America, and there are many distinguished scholars who study your art. But as yet, no one knows how to write a history of world art, a commentary that will do justice to the grand traditions of both Europe and Asia. That is the task of the younger scholars in China and America. If this translation of my book into Chinese contributes in some small way to that goal, then I will be extremely gratified. This book develops that project. To analyze, one must generalize. I discuss the rare art traditions of China, India, and Islam, rivals to Europe’s.1 For my analytic purposes, I identify these as distinct traditions. And I focus on what happened when they merged. In 1522 the eighteen survivors from Fernando Magellan’s ships completed the first circumnavigation of the globe. Before then, the great high art traditions developed 1. See Joseph Alsop, The Rare Art Traditions: The History of Art Collecting and Its Linked Phenomena (New York: Harper and Row, 1982).

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Preface

mostly in isolation. Soon after 1522 one unified art world began to be created. I say little say about the arts of Africa, Oceania, and Pre-Columbian America.  And  I do not discuss Japanese art. I don’t yet see how to fit these other traditions into my account. This, then, is only a rough first sketch of a comprehensive world art history. Philosophers in my tradition believe that their arguments are universally valid, but most art historians resist this way of thinking. In speaking of “our culture” or “our art” and contrasting exotic art from outside Europe, I write as an American whose ancestors emigrated from Europe. And when I speak of “European art” or “Western art” I include art made in America, for our visual tradition is essentially European. “Our culture” and “exotic” are indexical terms, like “here” and “now,” whose reference is linked to the position of the writer. For a woman living in New Delhi whose visual culture is Indian, European art is exotic. Following Michael Cook, I use the traditional Western system of dates, “b.c.” and “a.d.”2 I speak of “visual culture” as shorthand for works of art created within a society. And I use the ugly word “Eurocentric” to identify arguments that rely too exclusively upon European ways of thinking. Wollheim, who was allergic to social histories of art, had “two  . . . commitments by which I steer: the love of painting, and loyalty to socialism.”3 He believed that you could do philosophy without making political judgments. But in his Power Lecture, given in Sydney in 1972, he remarked:4 “It would be a hideous irony of history if in the very year when, to our total incredulity or indifference, over the rural areas of South-East Asia, a hundred Guernicas are perpetrated a day, the resources are wanting to project even one upon a pictorial surface.” Tragically, nothing much seems to have changed. Keith Moxey suggested that multiculturalism was more likely to involve Foucauldian struggle than Habermasian conversations. His rejection of Wollheim’s way of thinking has challenged me.5 Analytic philosophers, whatever their politics, believe that objectivity is important: “There are some thoughts which we cannot get outside of.”6 2. “The fact that the era most widely used in the world today is historically a Christian one says something about the course of world history, and it is not a course that everyone has reason to celebrate.” Michael Cook, A Brief History of the Human Race (New York: W. W. Norton, 2003), xxiii. 3. Richard Wollheim, Painting as an Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 357. 4. Richard Wollheim, “Style Now,” in Concerning Contemporary Art: The Power Lectures, 1968– 1973 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 153. 5. Keith Moxey, The Practice of Persuasion: Paradox and Power in Art History (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001). 6. Thomas Nagel, The Last Word (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 19.

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Wollheim once taught in India, but all the examples in Art and Its Objects come from Europe. Imagine that book rewritten by a philosopher passionately interested in art from outside Europe. Suppose, furthermore, that this rewriting discusses politics. Then you would have the agenda for this volume. The first four chapters lay out out a world art history. Then the remaining chapters interpret that structure and evaluate its political significance. “How does one represent other cultures? What is another culture? Is the notion of a distinct culture . . . a useful one, or does it always get involved either in self-congratulation (when one discusses one’s own) or hostility and aggression (when one discusses the ‘other’)?”7 Edward Said’s Orientalism made us conscious of the extreme difficulty of answering these questions. His polemic is mostly directed against commentaries on Islamic Middle Eastern cultures.8 Specialists have pointed to errors, which were inevitable in his far-reaching account.9 But Said struck a nerve. After Orientalism everyone writing about cultures outside Europe was sensitive to political issues. When in 1992 the National Gallery in Washington created a grand exhibition to mark the five-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s voyage, there was clear awareness of the moral ambiguity of the occasion. “Europeans who moved out across the world during the course of the sixteenth century . . . tended to see themselves as superior beings, providentially enjoying and, when possible, diffusing the supreme blessings of Christianity and civility. To the nonEuropean peoples, on the other hand they appeared . . . intruders, unpleasantly prone to seize what was not rightfully theirs.”10 Understanding other cultures on their own terms is very difficult. But doing this is extremely important. If fear of going wrong paralyzes us, then we will never advance. It may be, an historian writes,11 “that a day will come when everyone around the world will conceive of the world and its history in identical ways. Until that day arrives, however, we need to be attentive at all times to the limited standpoints and visions from which we think and write history.” That seems to me exactly right. “I have the habit, perhaps rather reprehensible in a Professor,” Roger Fry noted in his unfinished lectures on multiculturalism, “of lecturing about 7. Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 325. 8. He says something about India but little about China. See Arif Dirlik, The Postcolonial Aura: Third World Criticism in the Age of Global Capitalism (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1997), chap. 5. 9. See, for example, Bart Moore-Gilbert, Postcolonial Theory: Contexts, Practices, Politics (London: Verso, 1997), chap.  2; and James  G. Carrier, introduction to Occidentalism: Images of the West, ed. James G. Carrier (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995). 10. J. H. Elliott, “A World United,” in Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration, ed. Jay A. Levenson, exhibition catalogue (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1992), 647. 11. Arif Dirlik, “Performing the World: Reality and Representation in the Making of World Histor(ies),” Bulletin of the German Historical Institute 37 (Fall 2005): 23.

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subjects of which I know very little in the hope of gaining some clearer notions of them.”12 I know something about the art and history of China, India, and Islam, but not enough, certainly, to satisfy the specialists, whose publications I have studied. But there is no need to be apologetic, not when we so obviously need to know exotic cultures. Understanding art from China, India, and Islam is one important step toward achieving international justice. And once we understand the value of their art, then we can better develop a critical perspective on our own tradition. After 9/11, these are urgent, intellectually compelling tasks.



12. Roger Fry, Last Lectures (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1939), 40.

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A c k n o w l e d gm en ts

There . . . is a place and a function in our ongoing intellectual life for a . . . work containing unfinished presentations, conjectures, open questions and problems, leads, side connections, as well as a main line of argument. There is room for words on subjects other than last words. — r o ber t no z ick

The dedication acknowledges serious debts to friends whose writings have significantly influenced mine. James Elkins is amazing. Who else has so many varied interests and makes such unclichéd claims? My immediate starting point was his Stories of Art.1 Had I not encountered his book, I would not have written this one. I met Jonathan Gilmore when he published a commentary on my publications, an analysis developed more fully in his The Life of a Style. But it took me years to absorb his argument. Michael Ann Holly’s lucid style has been a great influence. When she spoke of my need to identify “a politics of vision,” she raised an essential issue.2 But, again, it took me a long time to respond. I studied aesthetics in 1968 with Richard Wollheim at Columbia University. Soon then I read his Art and Its Objects in London’s parks and went into museums to test its claims. Just a few months before his death, I brought him to speak in Cleveland. In the Asian collection of the museum, he remarked that only the Chinese bronzes were real works of art. How I regret that I didn’t ask him what he meant. This book is in Wollheim’s style, the style of analytic philosophy. For all of my frustrations with the narrowness of American aesthetics, I love my tradition because it is determinedly lucid and democratically accessible. Art and Its Objects identified the relationship between theories of art and the physical objects in which works of art are embodied. In an early edition of his book, he explained: “Art, and its objects, come indissolubly linked. And if we sometimes feel that the concept only obscures the object and could as well be dropped: or alternatively, that the concept is all we need and that the day of the object 1. James Elkins, Stories of Art (New York: Routledge, 2002). See also his Master Narratives and Their Discontents (New York: Routledge, 2005) and Visual Studies: A Skeptical Introduction (New York: Routledge, 2003), 110–20. 2. Michael Ann Holly, Past Looking: Historical Imagination and the Rhetoric of the Image (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996), 75.

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acknowledgments

is over; in neither case do we progress far beyond a gesture.”3 Here he is commenting on his influential essay “Minimal Art,” which named that movement: “It has, over the centuries, been, at any rate within the tradition of the West, a natural concern of the artist to aid our concentration upon a particular object by making the object the unique possessor of certain general characteristics.”4 But when he writes, “within the tradition of the West,” I would include also China, India, and the Islamic world. This book is, in large part, a dialogue that I wish I had had with him.5 When in 2001 I moved to Cleveland to teach art history, I thought that I had left philosophy behind. But I was mistaken, for this book considers many philosophical problems: personal identity; the problem of other minds; Arthur Danto’s narrative sentences and his discussion of Eastern philosophy; Derek Parfit on personal identity; Quine’s account of radical translation; Hegel and Jürgen Habermas on mutual recognition; John Rawls’s veil of ignorance; John Stuart Mill on paternalism; Wollheim’s analysis of imagination; Vico’s and Herder’s pluralism, as presented by Isaiah Berlin; Ernest Gellner’s discussion of relativism; Nietzsche’s perspectivism, as described by Alexander Nehamas; and Bhikhu Parekh on multiculturalism. The style of my book comes from analytic philosophy and its content from the art historical and historical literatures. I purchased Parfit’s Reasons and Persons on May 13, 1986. But it took me almost two decades to see how its claims are relevant to art history. Then Mark Cheetham helped by asking one important question. And I learned from hearing Robert Nozick argue against relativism at the Getty.6 I sometimes adopt his procedure, described in the epigraph, offering suggestive, but deliberately inconclusive arguments. Nozick was a pupil of my Columbia teachers, Danto and Sidney Morgenbesser, and so this philosophical style is very familiar.7 I don’t aspire to contribute to philosophical debate. Nor, when employing the ideas of Hegel, Herder, Nietzsche, and Vico, do I engage in historical exegesis.8 My 3. Preface, Art and Its Objects: An Introduction to Aesthetics (New York: Harper and Row, 1968). In the later edition he dropped this useful commentary. 4. Richard Wollheim, “Minimal Art,” reprinted in his On Art and the Mind: Essays and Lectures (London: Allen Lane, 1973), 111. 5. See my review of his Germs: A Memoir of Childhood (London: Waywiser Press, 2004), “Two English Aesthetes,” ArtUS 11 (December 2005–February 2006): 10–11. 6. Now published as Robert Nozick, Invariances: The Structure of the Objective World (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003). 7. “My ambition has been to open questions, not to close them.” E. H. Gombrich, The Sense of Order: A Study in the Psychology of Decorative Art (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979), 16. 8. There are two kinds of philosophers: those interested in the history of philosophy; and philosophers. I read Nietzsche (in translation), but Herder and Vico are accessible to me only thanks to their recent commentators.

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acknowledgments 

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aim, rather, is to demonstrate what art historians can learn from historians and from analytic philosophers. If you take different views of personal identity, the problem of other minds, or perspectivism, then you will write another world art history. Art historians tend to be dismissive about aesthetics. “Why,” a great connoisseur wrote, “we have a new Esthetics every fifty years; it is a matter of fashion. Into so patient a thing as a painting, the aesthetician will put any rubbish that comes into his head.”9 Aestheticians can seem silly, but they are needed, for the practice of art history is guided by a methodology, which often is not made explicit. Some years ago Arthur Danto published a critique of my books.10 While my contemporaries wrote about philosophical problems, he said, “Carrier went his own way making philosophy out of his own life, seeking patterns in which to fit the writers and painters he admired with the events he lived through, integrating his world, his experience, and each of these with one another.” I was frustrated, even wounded by his commentary, which is misleading. But when I wrote this book, I became extremely grateful, for he helped locate the objective patterns of world art history. I will be flattered if anyone sees how continuously my ways of thinking are indebted to his. Like all of my publications, this book owes much to Sean Scully. When I discuss the ways that European artists can learn from exotic traditions, his Moroccan photographs provide one essential model. The Conclusion borrows one key idea from Paul Barolsky, and the whole book benefits from the model of his writing. I began and finished this book in the two best working environments I have known. And in between, I taught in Cleveland, learning from my friendly, energetic students, thanks to the support of the secretary, Debby Tenenbaum. Begun at the Clark Art Institute in Fall 2004, when I was working on another project, the manuscript was finished when I held the GlaxoSmithKline Senior Fellowship at the National Humanities Center, 2006–7. At the Clark, Michael Ann Holly, Mark Ledford, and Gail Parker gave marvelous form to everyday life, while Laurie Glover and her colleagues provided generous help in the library. Geoffrey Harpham, Kent Mullikin and Lois Whittington administered the National Humanities Center in the most helpful way; Joel Elliott provided reliable technical support; Jean Houston, Eliza Robertson, and Betsy Dain arranged library 9. Giovanni Morelli, Italian Masters in German Galleries: A Critical Essay on the Italian Pictures in the Galleries of Munich—Dresden—Berlin, trans. Louise M. Richter (London: George Bell and Sons, 1883), 133. 10. “Symposium: On David Carrier’s Artwriting,” Journal of Aesthetic Education 32, no. 4 (1998): 27–59, quotation 42.

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acknowledgments

loans; Bernice Patterson and Marie Brubaker dealt with a myriad of practical problems; Corbett Capps and the other staff members keep the physical plant working and fed us; and Karen Carroll did very helpful copyediting. And John Morris provided the final editing for Penn State Press. Dorothy Johnson and her colleagues at the University of Iowa listened to a rough early draft, as did audiences at the Studio School, the School for Visual Arts, New York; the Art Department, University of Ioannina, Greece; the National Humanities Center; the art department at Sewanee–University of the South; the Art History Department, University of South Carolina; the Philosophy Department, University of North Carolina, Charlotte; the Art History Department, Duke University; and the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts. Laurie Schneider published material in her journal Source that, drastically revised, has been incorporated.11 A few paragraphs appear in a survey edited by James Elkins, Is Art History Global?12 And thanks to Konstantinos Ioannidis, who hosted my trip to Greece, a short version of these materials will appear in Greek. Thomas McEvilley and John Onians were sympathetic readers for the press, and David Summers was kind enough to critique the manuscript. I also thank Elizabeth Mansfield, who commissioned an essay that deals with some themes discussed here,13 and Oleg Grabar and Eva Hoffman, who invited me to speak at the 2005 CAA session devoted to Islamic art. Grabar has generously responded to my queries about Islamic art.14 And Nigel Lendon provided essential material for my discussion of rugs of war. I am most grateful, finally, to my wife, Marianne Novy, for generously arguing with my claims; to our daughter, Liz Carrier, for listening; and to Brigston, our dog, who accompanied me on walks, welcome opportunities to reflect and rewrite. Like Baudelaire’s child enchanted by maps, I have a very long-standing interest in this project. When I was very young, a time line comparing civilizations fascinated me. And in high school I was spellbound by Arnold Toynbee’s The Study of History and Joseph Needham’s Science and Civilisation in China. When I became an art historian, initially I discussed only European art. But in 11. “Islamic Carpets in Christian Paintings: An Alternative Theory of the Origin of the Public Art Museum,” Source 25, no. 1 (2005): 1–5. 12. “What Happens when Art History Travels,” in Is Art History Global? ed J. Elkins (New York: Routledge, 2007): 286–89. 13. “Deep Innovation and Mere Eccentricity in Islamic Art History,” in Making Art History: A Changing Discipline and Institutions, ed. Elizabeth Mansfield (New York: Routledge, 2007). 14. See my “Seeing Cultural Conflicts,” ArtUS 4 (September–October 2004): 12–13, and “War Rugs: Political Art from the Islamic World,” ArtUS 16 (2007): 54–57; portions of these essays are incorporated into this book.

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1996 I taught at the University of Auckland and so started to think about art’s history outside of Europe.15 I realized that my analysis of European art needed to be grounded in a study of the institutional foundations of art history. Then when I studied the art museum, I considered how Asian art was introduced into American museums.16 This book was decisively influenced by lecturing in China and India. In 1998, thanks to Ding Ning, I taught at the National Academy of Art, Hangzhou. My lecture, which applied Ernst Gombrich’s narrative to Chinese painting, was influenced by Elkins’s book on Chinese art, which has been published in Chinese and by discussion with the late Ken Kiff.17 George Leonard helped prepare me for my visits to China. And I am indebted to Wu Xiaolei for bringing me to the Beijing Biennale, 2005, where I was a foreign juror.18 In 2004 Prashant Parikh invited me to speak at the Mohile Parike Center in Mumbai. And thanks to Dr. Jyotindra Jain’s Sanskriti Foundation, I repeated my lectures in New Delhi. A remark made there by Tapati Guha-Thakurta provided the key for Chapter 7.

15. See Leonard Bell, Colonial Constructs: European Images of Maori, 1840–1914 (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1992) 16. See my Museum Skepticism: A History of the Display of Art in Public Galleries (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), chap. 7. 17. See my “Meditations on a Scroll, or the Roots of Chinese Artistic Form,” Word and Image 18, no. 1 (2002): 45–52. 18. See my review, Tema Celeste, January–February 2006 (113): 108–9.

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I n t r o d u ction

The deepest work in the philosophy of art is based on an engagement with art itself, rather than with what philosophers have written. — a r t hu r d ant o

It is surprising that there is not, as yet, an adequate world art history. For more than a century, European and American museums have collected art from all cultures.1 Many specialists have discussed these artifacts. But until we can place the arts of China, India, and Islam in relation to Europe’s, our picture of world visual culture will be merely fragmentary. There are world histories— J. M. Roberts’s A Short History of the World and Michael Cook’s A Brief History of the Human Race, to cite recent examples.2 S. A. M. Adshead’s China in World History centers world history on China.3 And Randall Collins has published a world history of philosophy.4 But art history lacks comparable books. Although there are excellent surveys of long periods of individual traditions, there is no full account of the interrelationships of visual cultures.5 There is a very large, extremely contentious literature discussing imperialism, but not yet any comprehensive discussion of its effects on visual art. Imagine how academics will look back fifty years hence at present-day art history. They will be fascinated by Tim Clark’s Marxism, Keith Moxey’s Foucauldian analysis of interpretation, Griselda Pollock’s feminism, and Mieke Bal’s and Norman Bryson’s semiotics—novel interpretative strategies that changed the discipline. And they will note how quickly art historians discussed arte povere, Pop Art, Minimalism, and other more recent developments. But they will also observe that Clark, Moxey, Pollock, Bal, and Bryson studied mostly 1. On the prehistory of this collecting, see Julian Raby, “Exotica from Islam,” in The Origins of Museums: The Cabinet of Curiosities in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Europe, ed. Oliver Impey and Arthur MacGregor (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 251–58. 2. And textbooks like Richard W. Bzulliet, Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daviel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, and David Northrup, The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001). 3. S. A. M. Adshead, China in World History (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995). 4. Randall Collins, The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1998). 5. See David A. Levine and Larry Silver, “Quo Vadis, Hagia Sophia? Art History’s Survey Texts,” pts. 1 and 2 at http://www.caareviews.org.

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Introduction

the European canon. Art from outside Europe remains marginalized. A similar point could be made about aesthetics. The mainline literature deals almost exclusively with Western themes. Tapati Guha-Thakurta’s writing on Indian art, Wu Hung’s and Craig Clunas’s discussions of the art of China, and Oleg Grabar’s publications about Islamic art make use of novel Western interpretative strategies. But there is, as yet, very little crossover of their concerns into the study of European art.6 Art writers concerned with China, India, or Islam frequently deal with European painting and sculpture. But only rarely do scholars of Western art discuss painting or sculpture from outside Europe. “Insofar as the academic discourse of history  . . . is concerned,” Dipesh Chakrabarty writes, “’Europe’ remains the sovereign, theoretical subject of all histories, including the ones we call ‘Indian.’ . . . [All] other histories tend to become variations on a master narrative that could be called ‘the history of Europe.’” 7 And then Chakrabarty asks: “Why cannot we . . . return the gaze?”8 The legitimate pressures in American universities for a multicultural curriculum will create demand for a world art history. Chinese Americans, Indian Americans, Korean Americans, and Muslims in America are likely to join African Americans in demanding that their visual traditions be taught in survey classes.9 And so it is not too optimistic to think that in 2057 our discipline will look very different. We can make an analogy to moral philosophy, which, until relatively recently, tended to serve parochial religious needs. “Belief in God, or in many gods, prevented the free development of moral reasoning. Disbelief in God, openly admitted by a majority, is a very recent event, not yet completed. Because this event is so recent, Non-Religious Ethics is at a very early stage. . . . Since we cannot know how Ethics will develop, it is not irrational to have high hopes.” 10 Similarly, monoculturalism has inhibited the development of art history. But because only recently has the desire for multicultural narratives become important, it is not irrational to have high hopes. Not until art writers abandon the Christian European tradition can we properly understand art from cultures with other religions. In art history, as in ethics, atheism can be liberating. 6. Here I echo Craig Clunas, “Social History of Art,” in Critical Terms for Art History, 2nd ed., ed. Robert S. Nelson and Richard Shiff (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), chap. 31. 7. Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History: Who Speaks for ‘Indian’ Pasts?” in A Subaltern Studies Reader, 1986–1995, ed. Ranajit Guba (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 263. One exception is Hubert Damisch, A Theory of /Cloud/: Toward a History of Painting, trans. Janet Lloyd (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002); the last chapter deals with Chinese art. 8. Chakrabarty, “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History,” 265. 9. And Eastern European Americans, Native Americans, Russian Americans, and Americans from the former USSR will observe that their art is not as yet in the curriculum. 10. Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 454.

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With the noteworthy exceptions of James Elkins, David Summers, John Onians, and Rudolf Wittkower, few recent art historians are concerned with a world art history.11 In the past, Europeans were overconfident about the universality of their ways of thinking.12 Nowadays, in response, we have become very suspicious of large-scale historical explanations. “Only God knows world history.”13 Jean-François Lyotard attracted sympathy when he “railed against what he calls ‘Grand Narratives’ or the ideology of ‘Total Theory’, particularly the Enlightenment accounts of a universal human nature and historical progress.”14 When Hegel lectured on the art of Egypt, Greece, and Italy, the accessible literature was small. Nowadays, however, it is impossible to master the writings devoted to even one visual culture. A Poussin scholar is expected to read most of the large literature. But no one could master the commentaries devoted to art in China, Europe, India, and the Islamic world. Philosophers and cultural historians who write about the politics of multiculturalism do not usually also seriously study art history. Introductory texts surveying world art history are creations of committees, for no one knows enough to write a full account.15 As yet, it is too early to write a full visual history of all cultures. A full narrative of art covering China, Europe, India, and the Islamic world would be a very fat book. This slim volume is, rather, a prolegomena. Is a world history of art possible? What political impact could it have? And what structure? Those questions, at least, I try to answer. The word “prolegomena” is intended to allude to Immanuel Kant’s Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. “My purpose is to persuade all those who think metaphysics worth studying that it is absolutely necessary to pause a moment and, regarding all that has been done as though undone, to propose first the preliminary question, ‘Whether such a thing as metaphysics be even possible at all?’”16 I ask whether a world art history is possible. Leaving aside the obvious vanity in invoking Kant’s name, my art-historical concerns and goals are very different from his. Where he, after explaining the 11. See my review of David Summers, Real Spaces, www.caareviews.org/reviews/585. In the late nineteenth century Riegl and his precursors developed challenging theories of decorative art. See M. Olin, “Self Representation: Resemblance and Convention in Two Nineteenth Century Theories of Architecture and the Applied Arts,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 49 (1986): 376–97. 12. See Allan Megill, “Grand Narrative’ and the Discipline of History,” in A New Philosophy of History, ed. Frank Ankersmit and Hans Kellner (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), chap. 7. 13. Leopold von Ranke, quoted in Megill, “’Grand Narrative’ and the Discipline of History,”158. 14. Aria Baghramian, Relativism (London: Routledge, 2004), 112. See also Arif Dirlik, introduction to The Postcolonial Aura: Third World Criticism in the Age of Global Capitalism (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1997). 15. See, for example, David G. Wilkins, Bernard Schultz, and Kathryn M. Linduff, Art Past/Art Present (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994). 16. Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, trans. Lewis White Beck (New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1950), 3.

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importance of this project and sketching its boundaries, went on to work out his metaphysics in comprehensive detail, I call upon future scholars to develop a world art history. And whereas Kant went on to develop a constructive metaphysics, my analysis poses serious skeptical questions about the possibility of a world art history. I do that by sketching a genealogy, “a narrative that tries to explain a cultural phenomenon by describing a way in which it came about, or could have come about, or might be imagined to have come about.”17 “Every man and nation needs a certain knowledge of the past, whether it be through monumental, antiquarian, or critical history,” Nietzsche wrote, “according to his objects, powers, and necessities.”18 Nowadays no historian can legitimately avoid dealing with Nietzschean skepticism. When I circulated this manuscript and lectured on the material, I discovered how controversial its claims were. A totalizing world history, it was argued, is an entirely European concern; thanks to identity politics, it was said, we should recognize that such a history is impossible to write. The literature certainly makes me aware of these concerns. And I am very conscious that there will be errors in this wide-ranging analysis. But boldness is called for if academics are to respond to the political struggles that threaten to destroy the very possibility of international cooperation.

17. Bernard Williams, Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), 20. 18. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Use and Abuse of History, trans. Adrian Collins (Indianapolis: BobbsMerrill, 1957), 22.

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Overture: Islamic Carpets in European Paintings

Why should this Western concern with the Other be epitomized in the Oriental Carpet? — b r ia n spo o ne r

When something seems really strange, we say that it comes from another world. In science fiction, for example, the bodies and weapons of threatening Martian invaders are utterly alien. Renaissance meetings between Europeans and peoples they knew little about were often traumatic, for exotic cultures seemed to come from another world. “To read the journals and reports of da Gama and Albuquerque, describing how their warships blasted their way through the massed fleets of Arab dhows and other light craft which they encountered off the Malabar coast and in the Ormuz and Malacca roads, is to gain the impression that an extraterrestrial, superhuman force had descended upon their unfortunate opponents.”1 And so the record within visual art of contacts between distant cultures deserves attention. Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait (1434) (fig. 1) has been much discussed. In the late nineteenth century it was a marvelous naturalistic masterpiece.2 Then, thanks to Erwin Panofsky’s famously transformative essay of 1934, there was intensive study of Van Eyck’s symbolism. The dog, the burning candle, the fruit on the windowsill, and the discarded shoes were given allegorical interpretations.3 More recently, in reaction to the felt sense that iconographic interpretation was becoming limiting but also because the concerns of art historians have changed, The Arnolfini Portrait has been related to patriarchal marriage customs 1. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (New York: Random House, 1987), 26. 2. “A simple corner of the real world had suddenly been fixed on to a panel as if by magic.” E. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art (London: Phaidon, 1995), 240. 3. My “Naturalism and Allegory in Flemish Painting,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 45, no. 3 (1987): 237–49 appeared before the revisionist commentaries.

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Fig. 1  Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434. National Gallery, London.

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and the social role of artists.4 Given the long, close attention paid to this small picture, it is surprising that one element has hardly attracted attention. Almost no one discusses the carpet, which is clearly visible just to the right of center.5 Two very different cultures, Christian and Islamic, frequently at war, intersect in The Arnolfini Portrait. Into this European painting is thrust a carpet made by Muslims, who often were very suspicious of representations. Within Jan van Eyck’s Madonna with Canon van der Paele (1436), Rudolf Wittkower says, “a foreign element . . . the oriental carpet . . . does not strike the viewer as strange.”6 Here, as in Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, he argues, the European style of representation controls how we view the painting. I see these pictures very differently. The European and Islamic art traditions were far apart, and so there is a dramatic opposition between Van Eyck’s interiors and the exotic Islamic artifacts inserted into them. Van Eyck’s painting belongs to the story of European naturalism. Walking clockwise in the National Gallery, London, you go from the early Renaissance and The Arnolfini Portrait to Postimpressionism. As European artists learned anatomy, perspective, and shading, their paintings became more naturalistic. Carpets, by contrast, seem not to have such a developmental history, and so they often are dated by their appearance within paintings.7 Often carpets have figurative elements, but usually they are not representations.8 One 4. See Linda Seidel, Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait: Stories of an Icon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). 5. I looked frequently at The Arnolfini Portrait. But I did not notice this rug. Edwin Hall, The Arnolfini Betrothal: Medieval Marriage and the Enigma of van Eyck’s Double Portrait (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994), 126, 167n65, notices it. 6. Rudolf Wittkower, Selected Lectures of Rudolf Wittkower: The Impact of Non-European Civilizations on the Art of the West, ed. Donald Martin Reynolds (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 2. 7. See John Mills, “The Coming of the Carpet to the West,” in The Eastern Carpet in the Western World: From the 15th to the 17th Century, by Donald King and David Sylvester, exhibition catalogue (London: Hayward Gallery, 1983); Onno Ydema, Carpets and Their Datings in Netherlandish Paintings, 1540–1700 (Leiden: Walburg Pers, 1991); Wilhelm von Bode and Ernst Küchel, Antique Rugs from the Near East, trans. Charles Grant Ellis (Berlin: Klinkhardt and Biermann, 1958); Kurt Erdmann, The History of the Early Turkish Carpet, trans. Robert Pinner (London: Oguz Press, 1977); Kurt Erdmann, Seven Hundred Years of Oriental Carpets, ed. Hanna Erdmann, trans. May H. Beattie and Hildegard Herzog (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1970). My analysis has been much influenced by David Sylvester, “On Western Attitudes to Eastern Carpets,” in Islamic Carpets from the Joseph V. McMullan Collection, exhibition catalogue (London: Hayward Gallery, 1972), 4–19. See Lisa Jardine, Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996). 8. It is not obvious what kind of history, if any, decoration has. Owen Jones, The Grammar of Ornament (1856; repr., New York: Van Nostrand, 1972) collects examples from “savage tribes,” Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, Byzantime, various Islamic cultures, India, China, and medieval and modern Europe. “There is scarcely a people, in however early a stage of civilisation, with whom the desire for ornament is not a strong instinct. The desire . . . grows and increases with all in the ratio of their progress in civilisation” (13). But he doesn’t have any developed theory of this history. He does describe

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a world art history and its objects

theory is that carpet designs initially were naturalistic but gradually became more abstract; another is that they started as abstractions and eventually became naturalistic.9 In the National Gallery, instead of attending to the historical development of European painting, focus on the carpets shown underfoot or on tables.10 These pictures will then look different. Anyone can see that Piero comes before Michelangelo, who is succeeded eventually by Constable. And any undergraduate can distinguish between Van Eyck’s northern paintings and those of his Italian contemporaries. But understanding the history and provenance of carpets is more difficult. As in Van Eyck’s time, we use carpets as floor decorations, without knowing or caring about their roles in Islamic culture. In the Renaissance only rich Europeans owned imported rugs, but nowadays dealers sell them to middle-class buyers.11 Notwithstanding the research of Alois Riegl, Kurt Erdmann, Ernst Gombrich, and Oleg Grabar, we do not have a full history of carpets nor a satisfactory account of their meaning. A short distance in the National Gallery beyond The Arnolfini Portrait is Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors (1533) (fig. 2). Another picture relating to marriage, it portrays Jean de Dinteville, the French ambassador to England, who was trying to persuade Henry VIII not to marry Anne Boleyn. Here are numerous symbolic elements, including musical instruments; a globe recording Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe, completed just eleven years earlier; books; an astronomer’s instruments; and, on the table, a Turkish carpet. “The array of objects codes (or symbolically represents) a transactive commercial and territorial relationship between England and the major imperial powers with which it was negotiating—the Valoir, Hapsburg, and Ottoman empires—brokered by some changes, saying, for example, that Arabian ornament is derived from Byzantium via Persia. “But there was this difference, that with the Greeks the flowers or leaves do not form part of the scroll, but grow out of it whilst with the Arabs the scroll was transformed into an intermediate leaf ” (57–58). Jones treats decoration as a form of cultural expression: “On the whole, Chinese ornament is a very faithful expression of nature of this peculiar people; its characteristic feature is oddness” (87). 9. The first theory is due to Alois Riegl; see his Problems of Style: Foundations of a History of Ornament, trans. Evelyn Kain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992). The second, in opposition to Riegl, is presented in E. H. Gombrich, The Sense of Order: A Study in the Psychology of Decorative Art (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979). See also Ernst Küchel, The Arabesque: Meaning and Transformation of an Ornament, trans. Richard Ettinghausen (Graz: Verlag für Sammler, 1976). 10. See John Mills, Carpets in Pictures (London: National Gallery, 1975). 11. Rosamond E. Mack, Bazaar to Piazza: Islamic Trade and Italian Art, 1300–1600 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002), 73. See also R. A. Jairazbhoy, Oriental Influences in Western Art (London: Asia, 1965), chap. 1; and John Irwin and P. R. Schwartz, Studies in Indo-European Textile History (Ahmedabad, India: Calico Museum of Textile, 1966), 20–22. Nor have carpets lost their fascination for contemporary artists. See Charles Michener, Stone Roberts: Paintings and Drawings (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1993).

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Fig. 2  Hans Holbein, The Ambassadors, 1533. National Gallery, London.

French diplomacy.”12 Carpets are highly complex intentional artifacts.13 Whom, then, were they meant to please, and why? Muslim cultures were important trade partners and frequent military foes of the Mediterranean Christians.14 Today international trade leads to scholarly 12. Lisa Jardine and Kerry Brotten, Global Interests: Renaissance Art Between East and West (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000), 61. 13. Thirty-some paintings depicting carpets are in the National Gallery. And rugs also appear in Chinese scroll paintings and Persian miniatures. See R. Pinner and M. Frances, “Two ‘Turkoman’ Carpets of the 15th Century,” in Turkoman Studies I: Aspects of the Weaving and Decorative Arts of Central Asia, ed. Robert Pinner and Michael Franses (London: Oguz Press, 1980), 83–89, for carpets illustrated in Persian miniatures. See also Charles Grant Ellis, Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1988). 14. See Nicholas Thomas, Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture, and Colonialism in the Pacific (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991); and Fernand Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism: 15th–18th Century, vol. 3, The Perspective of the World, trans. Siân Reynolds (New York: Harper and Row, 1982).

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study of other cultures. But Renaissance Christians and their Muslim enemies were not very interested in or knowledgeable about each other. “Muslims were of course aware that there were other, more or less civilized, societies on earth. . . . But China was remote and little known; India was in the process of subjugation. . . . Christianity had a certain special importance, in that it constituted the only serious rival to Islam as a world faith and a world power.”15 Muslims were suspicious of their Christian rivals, whose images were important and dangerous weapons.16 And Europeans, in turn, feared the Islamic world.17 In Pinturicchio’s fresco cycle (1502–9) at Siena Cathedral showing the life of Pius II, the pope enters Mantua to preside over the assembly planning an expedition against the Turks.18 In the porch sheltering Pius II and his attendants, on the table under some books, is a magnificent carpet. Even as these Christians plot, their room is decorated by art made by their enemies. Perhaps the carpet is a trophy, like the flags of defeated foes in military museums. But often in other European paintings Islamic rugs are depicted set on tables or hung from windows, in ways that acknowledge their visual appeal.19 Europeans and Muslims treat carpets differently. Arabs pray on them in mosques and sit on them in their homes. Europeans usually stand and walk on them, or place them on tables. “In the East one sits and rests on the carpet, in closest physical and visual contact with it, so that its imagery can be readily studied, especially as it is unencumbered by massive furniture of a different material. In the West the carpet is not an object of similar scrutiny: one sits high up on a chair, in a room filled with tables, sofas, and fauteuils which obstruct the sight of the extensive floor-covering, while paintings, tapestries, or patterned wallpaper provide further distraction.”20 European artists didn’t depict carpets as used by the Islamic world.21 Muslims avoid stepping on portions of carpets 15. “The menace of Islam was seen as something which threatened the souls as well as the bodies of Christian Europe.” Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 3. 16. See Oleg Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), 90. 17. Bernard Lewis, Islam and the West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 25. See also Jerry H. Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). 18. Salvatore Settis and Donatella Toracca, eds., La Libreria Piccolomini nel Duomo di Siena (Modena: Franco Cosimo Panini, 1998), 251. 19. See Erdmann, Seven Hundred Years of Oriental Carpets, 21–24. 20. Richard Ettinghausen, Islamic Art and Archaeology: Collected Papers, ed. Kyriam Rosen-Ayalon (Berlin: Mann Verlag, 1984), 1078. 21. “There are no representations of figures sitting directly on carpets, taking intimate visual and tactile pleasure in them as was the custom in the Islamic world. Most paintings show only parts of the rugs’ designs, and all the visible fields are geometric compartments containing stylized animals.” Mack, Bazaar to Piazza, 75.

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7

containing words from the Qur’an.22 But paintings showing Christians wearing shoes standing on carpets probably reflect ignorance, not hostility. In mosques mihrabs stand for the niche mentioned in the Qur’an, the gateway to Paradise. And this same form appears also in the arch design of most prayer rugs.23 The mihrab marks the direction of prayer, showing “the direction of the hajj, the pilgrimage that every Moslem hopes to make to Mecca . . . but it is unlikely that the mihrab motif on a palace-front conveyed such an ideology to untravelled, nonVenetian pilgrims within a strictly Christian context.” 24 But when appropriated by Venetians, it merely signaled the importance of trade.25 The mihrab thus lost its religious power. In 1786, Goethe was astonished to find in Assisi a Roman temple, the first classical monument he saw. The temple had been turned into a church. When Christians took over pagan buildings, they Christianized the art and architecture. “Re-used and replicated artifacts have a particularly ambivalent status, being simultaneously past and present with a commingling (and sometimes confusion) of ancient and modern roles. By their very nature they are incomplete— parts of a once larger whole. But like holy relics, those surviving parts can stand as surrogates for that lost whole.”26 Islamic motifs appearing in Venice may just have been expressions of the natural taste of a great trading nation. In that way they were like classical buildings; but while pagan culture had disappeared, Islam was an active threat. And yet, notwithstanding their political and theological hostility to Muslims, Renaissance painters felt no need to de-Islamicize the carpets they depicted. Paintings depicting carpets might therefore be compared to another type of European painting containing autonomous works of art: paintings of pictures within pictures.27 Typically the artist relates the picture 22. See Franz Rosenthal, Four Essays on Art and Literature in Islam (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1971), 50. 23. Walter B. Denny, “Reflections of Paradise in Islamic Art,” in Images of Paradise in Islamic Art, ed. Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom, exhibition catalogue (Hanover, N.H.: Hood Museum of Art, 1991), 37. See also Mohamed Mostafa, Turkish Prayer Rugs (Cairo: Ministry of Education Press, 1953). 24. Deborah Howard, Venice and the East: The Impact of the Islamic World on Venetian Architecture, 1100–1500 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 157. 25. “Just as rich oriental carpets were hung on Venetian balconies on feast-days and noblewomen wore jewelry made of gems purchased in the East, so too, objects shipped back on merchant voyages could adorn the family palace.” Howard, Venice and the East, 148. 26. Patricia Fortini Brown, Venice and Antiquity: The Venetian Sense of the Past (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), 23–24. 27. “The minor picture is not only an independent creation with its own content and circumscribed field, but a means of extending or dividing the major field and of deepening the content of its imagery through formal or iconographic analogies.” Theodore Reff, Degas: The Artist’s Mind (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1976), 90–91. See also Pictures Within Pictures, exhibition catalogue (Hartford, Conn.: Wadsworth Atheneum, 1949); and my “On the Depiction of Figuration Representational Pictures within Pictures,” Leonardo 12, no. 3 (1979): 197–200, with replies to critics, Leonardo 12, no. 4 (1979): 350–51.

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a world art history and its objects

within the picture to the larger scene. By contrast, the significance of carpets represented within paintings is more elusive. Generally they have no relationship with the represented figures in the paintings containing them. Carpets within paintings have a marginal place in the art-historical literature because these objects have an odd place within European pictures. Some depicted persons or things—Christian saints or pagan monuments, for example—require identification. Many others—ornamental interiors, urban settings, or landscapes, for example—have a literal reality. Carpets are in between these categories. A Star of David or a crucifix cannot be used in a neutral way, for these symbols retain too much power to become mere decorations. And the swastika, frequently a design in carpets—it is the Chinese symbol for the number ten thousand and happiness, and in many cultures a symbol for the sun—now has an ominous meaning.28 Carpets also possessed symbolic meanings, but for the Renaissance they were just decorative works of art. Textiles, which played a large role in everyday life in the Islamic world, lost their symbolic meanings even before being exported to Europe.29 Observing that the prayer rug is a popular carpet in the West, Richard Ettinghausen notes that within Islamic culture it had sacred functions.30 When, for example, carpets show a pair of candlesticks, these symbols perhaps allude to prayer niches. According to the Qur’an, “Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth; a likeness of His light is as a niche in which there is a lamp, the lamp is in a glass and the glass is as it were a brightly shining star, lit from a blessed-olive-tree.”31 But when such lamps are multiplied or their shape changes, they become ornaments. Carpets are like the famous elaborately worked Wade Cup. “Even those decorations which have apparently a significant content were probably not everywhere understood as such; possibly even the artists who made these objects may not have been fully aware of symbolic implications. . . . There are many levels of awareness and knowledge.” 32 Sometimes, Ettinghausen says, there was such symbolism, but soon enough these works of art became purely decorative.33 28. Ian Bennett, ed., Rugs and Carpets of the World (London: Ferndale, 1981), 343. 29. See Lisa Golombek, “The Draped Universe of Islam,” in Content and Context of Visual Arts in the Islamic World, ed. Priscilla P. Soucek (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1988), 26. 30. Richard Ettinghausen, “The Early History, Use and Iconography of the Prayer Rug,” in Prayer Rugs, exhibition catalogue (Washington, D.C.: Textile Museum, 1974), 11. 31. Qur’an 24:35. The edition I am quoting is The Qur’an, trans. M. S. S. Abdel Haleem (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). 32. Ettinghausen, Islamic Art and Archaeology, 358. 33. Ibid., 30.

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Notwithstanding the problems raised by recent commentators, Panofsky’s account of The Arnolfini Portrait makes an intuitively plausible distinction between pictorial elements that are merely naturalistic and those that may be symbolic. Jan van Eyck constructed a unified pictorial space, assembling elements that, though they may have double meanings, fit together when understood literally. Islamic carpets, by contrast, use abstract or repeated figurative elements, and so it is not so clear how to interpret them. The books, scientific instruments, and globe in The Ambassadors have very precise identities, but the carpet is perhaps just an attractive artifact. Now and then Renaissance art historians discuss carpets.34 In the Turkish rugs called Lottos because they appear frequently in paintings by Lorenzo Lotto, “the glittering design of the field, suggesting a golden grillwork set with sapphires, extending on endlessly beyond the frame of its border, must have suggested . . . the infinite splendor of Paradise.”35 But that is just speculation. The carpet in Lotto’s Madonna with Saints (1521; Bergamo, S. Spirito) (fig. 3)36 has lost its sacred significance and functions like Arabic writing, which, when represented by European artists who are unable to read it, becomes purely decorative (see below). What did European artists make of these exotic objects? In Giovanni Mansueti’s Miracles of the Bridge at San Lio (1494) (fig. 4), carpets hang from windows. “Rich colours in soft textiles overlay the hardness of marble; and the eye of the Venetian painters and their public became attuned to fine degrees of hardness and softness, of fixity and pliancy, as when silken textiles move in a current of air but marbles stand fast.”37 Imported rugs may have influenced the bright colors of fifteenth-century Venetian painting,38 although no contemporary commentator says that. Maybe Venetians loved Islamic textiles because their coloring looked attractive in the soft light of Venice. We don’t know much about how Muslims understood their textiles. Nor do we understand exactly how Renaissance artists thought of them. We know that Piazza San Marco was fully hung with carpets, as is shown in 34. See Rosamund E. Mack, “Lotto: A Carpet Connoisseur,” in Lorenzo Lotto: Rediscovered Master of the Renaissance, exhibition catalogue (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1997), 59–67. 35. Schuyler  V.  R. Cammann, “Symbolic Meanings in Oriental Rug Patterns: Part  I,” Textile Museum Journal 3, no. 3 (1972): 10. 36. “The Madonna, with the Child sitting on her lap, is enthroned on a pedestal hung with a Turkey carpet, with a cushion under her feet. She seems to be haranguing the surrounding saints . . . while two nude baby angels hold a crown over her head, and the infant John, at the foot of her throne, sprawls on the ground, hugging a lamp.” Bernard Berenson, Lorenzo Lotto: An Essay in Constructive Art Criticism (London: George Bell and Sons, 1905), 144–45. 37. Paul Hills, Venetian Colour: Marble, Mosaic, Painting and Glass, 1250–1500 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 16. 38. Luca Emilio Brancati, The Carpets of the Painters (Geneva: Skira, 1999), 78.

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Fig. 3  Lorenzo Lotto, Madonna with Saints, 1521. S. Spirito, Bergamo.

paintings by Gentile Bellini and other artists. The Venetians were famous for incorporating alien artifacts into their art, and so it is perhaps unsurprising that painters freely inserted carpets into their paintings. These carpets might be compared with handsome, eye-catching people.39 Some commentators argue that we need not try to recover the original meanings of carpets. “Problems of dating should not prevent us from evaluating these early carpets as works of art. They were the prime medium of artistic expression for many people, even though their creators remain anonymous. We live in a different culture from that in which they were created, and look at them from a different perspective. We do not know the meaning of the significance of the 39. “On special occasions the balconies of palaces were adorned with beautiful women and draped with precious oriental carpets.” Howard, Venice and the East, 159.

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Fig. 4  Giovanni Mansueti, Miracle at the Bridge of San Lio, 1494. Accademia, Venice.

patterns used, and the language of their motifs is totally alien to us. Yet we can still admire their beauty.”40But this analysis will not satisfy art historians, who want to understand what Islamic carpets meant to their creators. No one would accept a formal interpretation of The Arnolfini Portrait or The Ambassadors, so why should we be satisfied by this ahistorical account of carpets? Learned advisors helped European painters. Muslim scholars studied mathematics and optics, but there is no evidence that their theories influenced the making or everyday perception of carpets. Islamic weavers typically were illiterate children or women, and so it seems unlikely that they knew bookish theorizing. Carpets are frequently interpreted in Hegelian ways as expressions of an Islamic worldview. Ettinghausen, for example, explains the horror vacui of Islamic art by reference to the crowded New Eastern cities, the empty spaces between them, and “the tendency in the Islamic world toward exaggeration and lavishness, not outwardly in the streets, but in personal relations.”41 Some 40. Michael Franses, “The ‘Historical’ Carpets from Anatolia,” in Orient Stars: A Carpet Collection, ed. Heinrich Kirchheim, exhibition catalogue (Stuttgart: E. H. Kirchheim, 1993), 269. 41. Ettinghausen, “The Horror vacui in Islamic Art,” reprinted in his Islamic Art and Archaeology, 1309. See the commentary in Eva Baer, Islamic Ornament (New York: New York University Press, 1998), 126.

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Middle Eastern Muslims live in deserts, and so it is often claimed that sitting on Islamic carpets is like being in a garden.42 Panofsky offered contemporary documentation when he allegorized The Arnolfini Portrait.43 By contrast, no contemporary text shows that Muslims thought of their carpets in these terms. The Qur’an says: “God is all pervading and all knowing.”44 But that statement doesn’t allow one to imagine Islamic art. “Islamic art is an art which dissolves the limitations of external form in the indefinite rhythms of form, space or sound, thereby opening the soul to the reception of the presence of the One who is not only absolute but also infinite.”45 This analysis is too vague to be convincing. The Qur’an is not much concerned with visual art. Ernst Gombrich points to essential problems with these Hegelian ways of thinking about Islamic art, which refuse “to accept the autonomy of decorative design. The visitor must be reassured that there is more to the arabesque than meets the eye. The revelation of symbolic meaning resembles an initiation into the deeper mysteries of the tradition.” This search for meanings coalesces, he adds, with the search “for some principle of unity among all manifestations of a culture or period. Being characteristic of Arabic decoration the arabesque must also partake of the essence of ‘Islamic thought.’”46 If carpet designs are meaningless repetitions of visually attractive elements, then perhaps they cannot be interpreted. Gombrich argues that decorative works of art like carpets stand to European paintings as do picture frames to the images they enclose. In Raphael’s Madonna della Sedia (fig. 5), for example, “without a frame there can be no centre. The richer the elements of the frame, the more the centre will gain in dignity. We are not meant to examine them individually, only to sense them marginally, and . . . ‘marginally’ here oscillates between a mere metaphor and a literal description.”47 Raphael’s famous picture has been much analyzed. Gombrich, for example, says: “To combine the intimacy of a genre group with 42. “The carpet . . . reflects Heaven and enables the traditional Muslim who spends most of his time at home on the carpet to experience the ground upon which he sits as purified and participating in the sacred character of the ground of the mosque upon which he prays.” Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islamic Art and Spirituality (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987), 39. See also the deflationary critique by Oliver Leaman, Islamic Aesthetics: An Introduction (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004). 43. This analysis might be convincing if it made some distinction between prayer and domestic carpets, but as it stands, it is too vague. 44. Qur’an 2:114. 45. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, “Islamic Aesthetics,” in A Companion to World Philosophies, ed. Eliot Deutsch and Ron Bontekoe, Blackwell Companions to Philosophy (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 1997), 458. 46. Gombrich, Sense of Order, 225. 47. Ibid., 156–57.

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Fig. 5  Raphael, Madonna della Sedia (with frame), c. 1516. Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Florence.

the hieratic tradition of a direct contact with the beholder was indeed a daring stroke. Perhaps it only became possible because the figures are now so firmly interlocked and anchored in the frame that this additional relationship with the devout beholder could not threaten its unity.”48 He sets the painting in the history of European naturalism. And he also elaborately interprets its frame. We recognize in it a version of the cartouche with four animated motifs oriented towards the field of force they enhance. They are progenies of Gorgon’s heads, apotropaic masks but transformed into smiling classical beauties endowed with most unclassical animated coiffures, which 48. E. H. Gombrich, Norm and Form: Studies in the Art of the Renaissance (London: Phaidon Press, 1966), 69.

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lead into the friendlier realm of exuberant vegetation. Further outward the florid flourishes harden into brackets crowned with shells and serving as fictitious fasteners for the stretched laurel garland running inside the classical moulding of the frame. The whole riot of gleaming forms flanking the two cartouches intended for the inscriptions is separated from the painting by a restrained circular acanthus border, proclaiming further allegiance to classical authority.49 For Gombrich the frame is marginal, as, in his story of European art, decoration itself is. “Far from wishing to distract from the precious painting which it encircles, the designer of this golden setting wanted to pay tribute and arouse attention like a flourish of solemn fanfares at the entry or departure of Majesty.”50 Some Renaissance artists depict the Islamic world. Saint Mark Preaching in Alexandria (1504–7) (fig. 6), an enormous painting by Gentile Bellini, finished by his son, Giovanni, shows contemporary Alexandria.51 A small group of Venetian noblemen stands behind the saint. Facing him, a large group of heavily veiled women and men wearing turbans fills most of the front of the picture. Mark preaches before the basilica, the Venetian Saint Mark’s set in Alexandria, a Venetian building behind him. But most of the picture is dominated by Islamic subjects—an obelisk; houses with Egyptian grilles, some with Muslims on the roof and carpets hanging from the windows; and a number of mosques with minarets. The painting illustrates Renaissance Europe’s self-image. “The selfabsorption of Europe was at once a source of strength which enabled it to shut out everything extraneous to its immediate needs, and at the same time a grave moral imperfection.”52 Christians and Muslims confront each other peacefully, with Venetians in the crowd on the right. Saint Mark’s body was stolen from Alexandria by Venetians in the ninth century (a scene Tintoretto depicted). Saint Mark Preaching in Alexandria, anachronistically showing the saint preaching to Muslims, is as unreal as a De Chirico cityscape. As in dreams, people 49. Gombrich, Sense of Order, 284. 50. Ibid., 284. 51. Jerry Brotton, The Renaissance Bazaar: From the Silk Road to Michelangelo (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 35–36. See also Phyllis Williams Lehmann, Cyriacus of Ancona’s Egyptian Visit and Its Reflections in Gentile Bellini and Hieronymus Bosch (Locust Valley, N.Y.: J. J. Augustin, 1977); Patricia Fortini Brown, Venetian Narrative Painting in the Age of Carpaccio (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 203–9; and Charles Dempsey, “Renaissance Hieroglyphic Studies and Gentile Bellini’s Saint Mark Preaching in Alexandria,” in Hermeticism and the Renaissance: Intellectual History and the Occult in Early Modern Europe, ed. Ingrid Merkel and Allen G. Debus (Washington: Folger, 1988). 52. Norman Daniel, The Arabs and Mediaeval Europe (London: Longman; Beurit: Librairie du Liban, 1975), 312.

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and buildings from different places and times are assembled in one uncannily seamless image. A giraffe is directly in front of the cathedral and a camel is at the far left. The European human presence seems relatively insignificant, but the saint dominates, standing above the crowd, and the church, in shade, in the background. Gentile never visited Alexandria, but he knew something of Islam, for he worked in Istanbul. As Vasari explains, Gentile “portrayed the Emperor Mahomet from the life so well, that it was held a miracle.”53 But then, uneasy with this portrait, the Muslim ruler sent his artist home. At the foot of the pulpit, one man—a self-portrait by Gentile—wears the chain given to him by Mahomet.54 Art historians discuss the roles of the two Bellinis, the sources and accuracy of the architectural reference, and the composition. (They say almost nothing about the carpets.) But until recently there has been little discussion about the painting’s role as a document of cultural relations. Perhaps it “reflected the Bellinis’ awareness of how these exchanges with the bazaars of the east were transforming the sights, smells, and tastes of the world, and the ability of the artist to reproduce them.”55 And maybe anxiety about the power of the Ottomans led Venetian artists to “capture visually an oriental world previously frequented by mariners, merchants, diplomats and viaggiatori.”56 The visual record is thin. Other Venetian painters created heavily populated cityscapes. And The Reception of the Ambassadors in Damascus (1488–99), which lacks an attribution, is unique—an accurate, realistic panorama, the only Italian painting of the time that shows identifiable architecture from the Islamic world.57 Other exotic things besides carpets made their way into Renaissance paintings. Gentile da Fabriano’s Adoration of the Magi (1423) contains pseudo-Arabic writing on the halo of the Virgin and the hems of some garments. These inscriptions are illegible, but they are close enough to Kufic to suggest that the artist 53. Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, trans. Gaston du C. de Vere, 2 vols. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), 1:493. 54. Brotton, Renaissance Bazaar, 54. See also my review, “Bellini and the East: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston,” Modern Painters (June 2006): 115–16; and Franz Babinger, Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time, trans. Ralph Manheim (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), 378–80. 55. Brotton, Renaissance Bazaar, 93. 56. Brown, Venetian Narrative Paintings, 196. 57. Julian Raby, Venice, Durer and the Oriental Mode (London: Islamic Art Publications, 1982), 52. See also his “The European Vision of the Muslim Orient in the 16th Century,” in Arte veneziana e arte islamica: atti del Primo simposio internazionale sull’arte veneziana e l’arte islamica, ed. Ernst J. Grube (Venice: L’Altra Riva), 41–46; and Alexandrine N. St. Clair, “Türkengefahr,” in Islamic Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, ed. Richard Ettinghausen (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972), 315–34.

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Fig. 6  Gentile Bellini with Giovanni Bellini, Saint Mark Preaching in Alexandria, 1504–7. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

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wanted to represent Arabic. Florence had negotiated a commercial treaty with the Mamluk sultan of Egypt, and so the inscriptions “may represent an interpretation of the common bond between Christianity and Islam with regard to the Virgin as a sort of public relations exercise for the people and church of Florence.”58 When European artists depicted pseudo-Kufic writing, typically in inaccurate transcriptions, they were borrowing a script they could not read. And a metal bucket appears in Carpaccio’s The Dream of Saint Ursula. “Such items, evidently prized for their rarity and beauty, could for that very reason also become a vehicle for the painter’s expression of such qualities.”59 But this bucket is not obviously Islamic. When very different societies suddenly come into contact, the stronger culture’s art replaces or even destroys that of the weaker society. Sometimes, however, weaker visual cultures influence their conquerors. In 1978, a socialist regime took power in Afghanistan in a coup. The next year the USSR invaded Afghanistan. Bitter struggle ensued, and soon refugee weavers made what became known as rugs of war (fig. 7), carpets that contain images of Russian airplanes, guns, and tanks. And then, after the Russians fled Afghanistan and their puppet regime fell, rugs of war showing American arms were made.60 Traditional carpets often show animals, architectural elements, human figures, and plants, repeated in all-over decorative patterns. The rugs of war replace the traditional motifs with aircraft, guns, military maps, soldiers, and tanks. Visitors to Pakistan purchased them, and soon they were exhibited and sold in Western galleries. These rugs of war are extraordinarily interesting for the historian of world art. The converse of the earlier European paintings depicting Islamic carpets, they show the violent intersection of cultures as seen by its Muslim victims. The recent history of Afghanistan is traced out. You can see, first, the helicopters, rockets, and other weapons of the Russian invaders, images of the exodus of the defeated Soviets and the hanging of Najibullah, their puppet ruler. And then the rugs of war show American arms, aircraft, and soldiers and the attack on the World Trade Center. Because the history of decoration is hard to reconstruct, we 58. Sylvia Auld, “Kuficising Inscriptions in the Work of Gentile da Fabriano,” Oriental Art 32, no. 3 (1986): 247. 59. Anna Contadini, “Artistic Contacts: Current Scholarship and Future Tasks,” in Islam and the Italian Renaissance, ed. Charles Burnett and Anna Contadini (London: Warburg Institute, 1999), 4. 60. See Tim Bonyhady and Nigel Lendon, The Rugs of War, exhibition catalogue (Canberra: Australian National University, 2003). Sections can be downloaded at http://www.anu.edu.au/ita/csa/ publications/trow.html. See also the the Rugs of War research blog, http://rugsofwar.wordpress.com. On Afghanistan’s history, see Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin, 2004).

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Fig. 7  Rug of war

tend, mistakenly, to think of carpet designs as timeless. And so it is surprising to see that the weavers of the rugs of war employing entirely new motifs. These weavers were presumably playing to a Western market.61 As with earlier Islamic carpets, we don’t have much independent sense of how they were understood by their makers. 61. “Arms are part of many cultures, especially at more popular levels,” Grabar has noted. “And I wonder whether the Afghan carpets could not have been meant for an Afghan as well as western market.” Oleg Grabar, personal communication.

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To understand carpets, you need to walk on and sit upon them. This, of course, is one reason why museum displays are frustrating. You may learn more in a dealer’s showroom. Sitting on a decorative pattern, with repeated images of animals and plants, it is easy to feel that you are in a garden, a small, movable Arcadia. This no doubt is why decorators love carpets. After I got interested in rugs of war, I purchased a small one on eBay. It represents bombs, guns, helicopters, and tanks, not the peaceful imagery found in the older rugs in my house. Ornament, Grabar says, “is to be recognized and praised, because it shows (or can show) the pleasure of work.”62 After presenting John Ruskin’s analysis, he goes on to speak of how perceiving ornamentation leads “to a sense of what is beautiful and of what is good.” How then should we understand rugs of war? I would not put photographs of bombs, guns, helicopters, and tanks on the walls of my study. So why, then, do I enjoy my rug of war? I am fascinated by its documentary value. And, also, I love the way that the weavers turn hard destructive military apparatus into soft, repeated visual forms. These inexpensive artifacts make me ashamed of the cynical politics of my government. And yet, like the figure in Plato’s dialogues who enjoys seeing images of things that in real life would disgust him, I look on, fascinated. The rugs of war, while not significant works of art, deserve to be contrasted with contemporary Western political protest art. Our political paintings and videos show how we, the dominant culture, feel guilty about our aggressive actions. The rugs of war show our culture as seen from the viewpoint of its Muslim victims.



62. Oleg Grabar, The Mediation of Ornament (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 39.

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Works of Art and Art-Historical Narratives

Art is the very stuff of delight and the narration of its history should also have the happy contagion. — k r ishna c hait anya

Richard Wollheim’s Art and Its Objects begins with a question: “What is art?”1 It is not easy to find common features of architecture, dance, literature, music, and also painting. Suppose, then, that we consider just visual art. What are the common features of paintings and sculptures by Giotto, Michelangelo, and Cézanne? Because European visual art has changed so radically, answering that question is difficult. The most promising answer is that paintings and sculptures represent and have expressive qualities. Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas (1570s), for example, is an intensely expressive representation of Marsyas, the satyr who was flayed for his hubris in challenging Apollo to a musical duel. “The image seems both palpable and timeless, depicting existences in landscape space but denoting that what we see here is a fraction of the cosmos. . . . There is a wry comedy within the cruelty, ugliness and strangeness within the magisterial beauty, and terror accompanies the sense of the sublime.”2 In this painting “the vitality of the human frame is projected beyond all recognizable bounds.”3 Art and Its Objects argues that aesthetics should first focus on individual works of art. “Art’s demand [is] that we should look at single objects for and in themselves.”4 Traditionally “it has . . . been . . . a natural concern of the artist to aid our concentration upon a particular object by making the object the unique possessor of certain general characteristics.”5 Placing a work of art in a historical narrative takes attention away from its visual qualities. Art historians 352.

1. Richard Wollheim, Art and Its Objects (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980),1. 2. S. J. Freedberg, Painting in Italy, 1500 to 1600 (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1971), 3. Richard Wollheim, Painting as an Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 326. 4. Richard Wollheim, On Art and the Mind: Essays and Lectures (London: Allen Lane, 1973), 151. 5. Ibid., 111.

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disagree, for they often place art within historical narratives. To understand an individual work of art, you must understand how its creator acquires and modifies tradition. In central India, for example, “later paintings at Ajanta expanded in all directions to cover the whole surface of the wall, but the continuous narrative concept was retained and the resulting complexity immediately imbues the paintings of Ajanta with a crowded, throbbing vitality.”6 So it is natural to present this art in historical perspective.7 And in Sarnath we find a third-century b.c. sculpture of four lions, which has been adopted as the emblem of the Indian Republic. Emperor Ashoka (273–32 b.c.) commemorated his conversion with the Lion Capital, which reveals events of the Buddha’s life. Here we see the influence of Persian art.8 When historians use sequences of works of art to tell stories, we cannot entirely separate experience of the individual work of art from knowledge of its place within sequences.9 Narratives describe origins and developments of traditions. The story of Indian sculpture begins in the golden age in the state of Bhopal from 50 b.c. to 75 a.d. “One is no longer content with the stammering and clumsy speech recited reluctantly and incoherently. A whole and detailed story is what is now required, and the sculptor puts his whole heart into the narrative when he relates so complacently both the minor incidents and the important events of life.”10 And we need narratives to describe influences, as when, for example, manuscript paintings in northern Bengal appear to be miniature versions of earlier murals.11 Ku K’ai-chih’s fourth-century The Nymph of the Lo River does not present images of the unification of the Taoist cosmos; only with Li Ch’eng in the tenth century was that finally achieved.12 Li Ch’eng’s “transformation of visual impressions” in A Buddhist Temple in the Mountains “reveals his conviction of a coherence and order underlying surface appearances in nature, the same conviction that inspired Sung philosophers to erect the vast and orderly structure of the NeoConfucian cosmology.” Narratives set art in historical context. It is convenience to present historical narratives as time lines, charting development by setting works of art from left to right in chronological order of 6. Roy C. Craven, Indian Art (London: Thames and Hudson, 1976), 123. 7. “Judging from the remnants of Roman painting and the evidence they give for Greek painting, the paintings of Ajanta represent a great achievement of narrative art, if perhaps not so rational in perspective or developed in representing deep space.” Sherman Lee, A History of Far Eastern Art (New York: Harry N. Abrams; Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1994), 115. 8. Ibid., 78. 9. Here I extend the argument of my Writing About Visual Art (New York: Allworth, 2003). 10. Ludwig Bachhofer, Early Indian Sculpture (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1973), 33. 11. Krishna Chaitanya, A History of Indian Painting, vol.  2, Manuscript, Monghul and Deccani Traditions (New Delhi: Shakti Malik, 1979), 6. 12. James Cahill, Treasures of Asia: Chinese Painting (Lausanne: Skira, 1960), 26, 32.

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1625

1625–26

23

1626

Battle of Gideon with the Midianites The Sack and Destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem by Titus Landscape with a River God Diagram 1  Time line of Nicolas Poussin’s career

making. Temporal relationships then are translated into an easily grasped visual structure. These banal time lines appear in survey texts and on museum Web sites, but their properties have not been much studied. A time line may present one stage in the career of an individual artist. Nicolas Poussin painted Battle of Gideon with the Midianites in 1625, The Sack and Destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem by Titus in 1625–26, and Landscape with a River God in 1626. This time line, reconstructed by Denis Mahon (diagram 1), covers just two years.13 A similar time line is developed in Richard Barnhart’s account of Chinese landscape painting. “Around 1085,” he argues, “a profound transformation occurred . . . the art of landscape painting was freed from subservience to the structure of empire to become the embodiment of the individual human mind and experience.”14 Like Mahon, Barnhart looks at a small group of individual paintings. But a time line may also chart a very long period, as when Ernst Gombrich’s Art and Illusion takes us from Cimabue’s Madonna and Child Enthroned with Angels and Prophets (1275–80) to John Constable’s Wivenhoe Park, Essex (1816) (diagram 2). These art-historical narratives identify real causal links. Battle of Gideon, Sack and Destruction of the Temple, and Landscape with a River God mark stages in Poussin’s search for a style. And Cimabue and Constable define the origins and conclusion of European illusionistic tradition. To fully understand individual paintings, we need to know their relationships to earlier art on the time line. Thus, Sydney Freedberg argues that Caravaggio’s Saint John the Baptist with Ram is a quotation of Michelangelo’s Ignudo from the Sistine Ceiling. “Caravaggio is awed by what provokes him to attack, and like all acts of blasphemy these of Caravaggio are inescapably ambivalent.”15 And he compares an Annibale Carracci to Titian’s Assumption of the Virgin. “There is the urgent sense in

13. Denis Mahon, Nicolas Poussin: Works from His First Years in Rome (Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 1999), 56, 62, 76. I discuss his reasoning in “In Praise of Connoisseurship,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 61, no. 2 (2003): 159–69. 14. Richard M. Barnhart, “Landscape Painting Around 1085,” in The Power of Culture: Studies in Chinese Cultural History, ed. William J. Peterson, Andrew H. Plaks, and Ying-shih Yü (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1994), 195, 205. 15. Freedberg, Circa 1600, 59.

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1275

1816

Cimabue’s Madonna and Child Enthroned with Angels and Prophets John Constable’s Wivenhoe Park, Essex Diagram 2  Ernst Gombrich’s Art and Illusion

Annibale’s Assunta that what he has depicted here is in a different realm from that of the early sixteenth-century work: this one means, with a different assertiveness, immediacy, and conviction, to intersect our world.”16 Wollheim, too, describes a tradition. As Cephalus embraces Aurora in Poussin’s Cephalus and Aurora, he is shown the portrait of his wife, which is modeled on a fourteenthcentury portrait.17 In employing an older pictorial style, Poussin hints “at the conservatism of the instincts. Sexuality hankers after its old objects.” Chinese art history is very rich in uses of tradition. Wang Kuan, a Northern Sung painter, reworked the older tradition, creating a novel style that became influential.18 Ni Tsan’s Woods and Valleys of Yö-shan (1372), a synthesis of the two traditions of Northern Sung landscape painting, “the rocky landscape mode . . . and the earthen mode,” perhaps echoes Yen Wen’keui’s Buddhist Temple in Autumn Mountains.19 (Wen’keui was active 970–1030; his painting now is known only from a mid-thirteenth-century copy.) “By the time a full-scale revival of Northern Sung styles was under way during the fourteenth century, this handscroll composition had become an important prototype of . . . landscape painters who increasingly turned to art rather than to nature for inspiration.”20 Similar stories can be told about Indian and Islamic traditions. In earlier Indian sculpture, the Buddha’s presence is indicated only symbolically. But gradually, at the Amaravati stupa in the second century a.d. and elsewhere, the Buddha was shown as a human figure.21 And the fortifications of the Alhambra, finished in the fourteenth century just before the Muslims were expelled from Spain, belong to two different architectural traditions, one dating from the Mediterranean in late antiquity, the other from earlier Islamic cities of the tenth century.22 16. Ibid., 20. 17. Wollheim, Painting as an Art, 198. 18. Alexander C. Soper, “The Relationship of Early Chinese Painting to Its Own Past,” in Artists and Traditions: Uses of the Past in Chinese Culture, ed. Christian F. Murck ((Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), 31. 19. Wen C. Fong, Beyond Representation: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, 8th–14th Century (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992), 495. 20. Ibid., 115. 21. Vidya Dehejia, Indian Art (London: Phaidon, 1997), 70, 86. 22. Oleg Grabar, The Alhambra (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1978), 105, 108.

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There are many ways to organize a story of art. We might compare iconographies, analyze the social functions of art, or describe individual artists. What privileges temporal narratives on time lines is their identification of the real history of art-making. Setting Poussin’s early paintings in order, we understand the development of his style. Linking Cimabue with Constable, we reconstruct the story of European naturalism. Time lines structure the history of art as it really was. In China, India, and the Islamic world—as in Europe—artists come into traditions, which they then modify. Perhaps not every sophisticated visual culture thinks in these ways. According to some orthodox theologians, icon painters must copy traditional images as faithfully as possible. That is “the only way we can achieve a personal contact, in the grace of the Holy Spirit, with the person whom the icon represents. . . . it is a matter . . . of preserving a direct and living link with the person whom the icon represents.”23 But even the icon seems to have a history.24 To fully understand individual works of art, we need to understand their relationship with others, including, ultimately, art from all cultures. And not only the sequence of objects, but also our representation of that sequence is aesthetically significant. When recently the Museum of Modern Art in New York was reconstructed, a great deal of attention was given to the changing ways that this museum shows its collection.25 Critics recall earlier hangings, and so they study changes closely. Once MoMA presented Clement Greenberg’s view of Modernism. Then, after formalism ceased to be dominant, this narrative was revised. The need to interpret individual paintings and sculptures is obvious. What has as yet remained less discussed are groupings of works of art.26 That is unfortunate, for museum arrangements project interpretations. The art museum is a collective work of art. You can present a narrative of Modernism either by displaying the works of art or by presenting photographs of them in a written history. Within limits, anything that can be said explicitly within an art history text can be said implicitly in a museum exhibition.27 This, then, is why our world art history and the museum of world art are so intimately linked together. 23. Leonide Ouspensky, Theology of the Icon (Crestwood, N.Y.: St.  Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1978), 196. 24. “The theologians . . . tell us only what the icon was supposed to be, not what it really was.” Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image Before the Era of Art, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 26. 25. See, for example, my “MoMA Renovation,” ArtUS 7 (March–April 2005): 42–43. 26. “What historians omit from the past reveals as much about a culture as what is recorded as history and circulates as collective memory.” Mary Anne Staniszewski, The Power of Display: A History of Exhibition Installations at the Museum of Modern Art (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998), xxi. 27. See my Writing About Visual Art, chap. 4.

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Monocultural Art-History Narratives

Tradition is not a passive, absorptive relation between the past and the present. Rather tradition presupposes an active relation in which the present calls upon the past. — da v id sco t t

Because works of art on one time line are causally connected, they constitute a tradition. In Vasari’s story of Italian art, Cimabue influences Giotto, who is the precursor of Uccello and Masaccio. And they, in turn, are essential sources for Leonardo, Raphael, and Vasari’s contemporary Michelangelo. A tradition must be seen as a whole.1 Italian art develops very dramatically, but there is continuity because there are causal connections between earlier and later artists. “We owe a great obligation to those early craftsmen who showed to us, by means of their labours, the true way to climb to the greatest height; and with regard to the good manner of painting, we are indebted above all to Masaccio. . . . He can be numbered among the first who cleared away, in great measure, the hardness, the imperfections, and the difficulties of the art.”2 The limitations of earlier artists are overcome by their successors as Cimabue leads by stages to Michelangelo (diagram 3). He tells the story of Italian art from around 1300 to his own day.3 Hegel’s very different time line extends Vasari’s Eurocentric story. Hegel’s lectures on aesthetics given in Berlin in the 1820s construct a time line running from Egypt to contemporary Romanticism. His differently organized history 1. “What happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which proceed it. . . . The whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered.” T.  S.  Eliot, “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” in Selected Essays, new ed. (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1950), 5. 2. Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, trans. Gaston du C. de Vere, 2 vols. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), 1:317. 3. “Despite the many disagreements and the objective distance between them, Bellori’s historical vision is  . . . profoundly neo-Vasarian.” Tomaso Montanari, introduction to Giovan Pietro Bellori, The Lives of the Modern Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, trans. Alice Sedgwick Wohl (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 18.

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1550 Cimabue

Masaccio

Piero

Raphael Michelangelo

Diagram 3  Vasari’s history

treats art as a form of social expression. In Egypt, “building works whether below or above ground are linked with a realm of the dead, as in general a realm of the invisible makes its home and occurs in Egypt for the first time.”4 Among the Greeks, the artist “can set the empirical detail of particular incidents in complete and . . . individual harmony with the general forms of the human figure. . . . The universal element of the content . . . is given to him by mythology and tradition.”5 In the Renaissance the situation was different, for “painting proceeded more and more to associate life in the external world with religious subjects. The cheerful and powerful self-reliance of the citizens with their industriousness, their trade and commerce, their freedom . . . all this is what entered artistic treatment and portrayal and asserted itself there.”6 And, finally, in the golden age of Holland, painters “link[ed] supreme freedom of artistic composition, fine feeling for incidentals, and perfect carefulness in execution, with freedom and fidelity of treatment, love for what is evidently momentary and trifling, the freshness of open vision, and the undivided concentration of the whole soul on the tiniest and most limited things.”7 Hegel’s very different time line extends Vasari’s Eurocentric story (diagram 4). Vasari treats Cimabue and Michelangelo as having the same goals. “I know not what would have been said of ” Giotto, he notes, “if he had lived in the time of [Michelangelo] Buonarroti.”8 Hegel, by contrast, is a historicist. For him, the Dutch masters did not seek to rival their Italian precursors. “The poetical fundamental trait permeating most of the Dutch painters . . . consists of this treatment of man’s inner nature and its external and living forms and its modes of appearance, this naïve delight and artistic freedom, this freshness and cheerfulness of imagination, and this assured boldness of execution.”9 Artists in a Protestant mercantile culture have different goals from Italian Catholics.10 4. G. W. F. Hegel, Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, trans. T. M. Knox, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 2:650. 5. Ibid., 2:725. 6. Ibid., 2:779–80. 7. Ibid., 2:886. 8. Vasari, Lives of the Painters, 2:1066. 9. Hegel, Aesthetics, 2:887. 10. “Hegel regards objects as sending forth echoes of the spirit.” Michael Podro, The Critical Historians of Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), 20.

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1828

2600 bc Egyptians Greeks Renaissance Holland’s golden age

Hegel’s lectures on aesthetics Diagram 4  Hegel’s history

Like Vasari, Ernst Gombrich constructs a narrative showing the development of naturalism (see diagram 5). But now the story starts first in ancient Greece, and then again in the Renaissance, continuing into the nineteenth century. In Giotto’s frescoes, he suggests, the miracles seem to be presented as if on a stage.11 During the High Renaissance, then, Leonardo was involved with close observation of nature, but refused to make the Mona Lisa perfectly naturalistic.12 And during the Dutch golden age, artists showed that the subject of a painting mattered less than how it was painted.13 Before a Constable, finally, “we must lose ourselves in the picture . . . to appreciate the artist’s absolute sincerity, his refusal to be more impressive than nature, and his complete lack of pose or pretentiousness.”14 Like Vasari, Gombrich treats all of his artists as having the same basic goal. Giotto paints sacred scenes; the Dutch, genre pictures; and Constable, landscape paintings. But they all create naturalistic images. And, finally, in Clement Greenberg’s narrative, all art can be set on one time line. Dialectical development takes art from old-master illusionism to Modernism. The old masters preserved “the integrity of the picture plane . . . to signify the enduring presence of flatness underneath and . . . the most vivid illusion of three-dimensional space.” Manet and the Modernists who follow him then self-critically reversed this way of thinking, treating “the limitations that constitute the medium of painting— the flat surface, the shape of the support, the properties of the pigment  . . . as positive factors.”15 Paradoxically, by trying to make ever more accurate 11. E. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art (London: Phaidon, 1995), 202. 12. Ibid., 303. 13. Ibid., 430. 14. Ibid., 495–96. 15. Clement Greenberg, “Modernist Painting,” in The Collected Essays and Criticism, vol. 4, Modernism with a Vengeance, 1957–1969, ed. John O’Brian (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 86–87.

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Greeks Giotto High Renaissance Dutch golden age Constable Diagram 5  Gombrich’s history

representations, what Modernism created was abstraction.16 Modernist works of art, which look very different from old-master paintings, come from this older tradition (diagram 6).17 Vasari, Hegel, Gombrich, and Greenberg narrate very different histories.18 Perhaps the most basic contrast is between accounts that treat the story of art as an internal development and those that construct an external or sociological perspective. For Vasari, Gombrich, and Greenberg, the history of art depends upon internal constraints. By contrast, for Hegel and the Marxists who are his successors, it is impossible to understand how art develops without looking at the larger culture.19 Vasari’s and Gombrich’s concern to reconstruct history as understood by the artists themselves contrasts with Hegel’s and Greenberg’s historicist accounts. When Hegel looks at Dutch painting of the Golden Age or Greenberg tells how the old masters were not yet self-critical, they adopt perspectives unavailable to these artists. A long book would be needed to compare and contrast Vasari’s, Hegel’s, Gombrich’s, and Greenberg’s accounts. But what matters for my present purposes is their shared assumption that the story of art can be told using just one 16. Clement Greenberg, Art and Culture: Critical Essays (Boston: Beacon Press, 1961), 171. 17. Greenberg’s analysis of old-master art is very terse, for it stands in the background of what interests him, Modernism. He only mentions art from outside Europe in passing. In China, as in the West, he argues, the danger was that art become merely decorative. But doing that “violated the Chinese picture’s function as an object of contemplative pleasure and perverted some of its most essential plastic elements.” Clement Greenberg, The Collected Essays and Criticism, vol. 3, Affirmations and Refusals, 1950–1956, ed. John O’Brian (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 43–44. In the great Chinese landscapes, Greenberg claims, the brushwork “conveys exact feeling with every touch and harmonizes every touch, as an individual facet of feeling, with the unifying emotion of the whole picture.” Greenberg thought that great art from everywhere could be judged by the same standards. But he doesn’t develop that idea or deal with obvious objections. 18. See Arthur C. Danto, After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997). 19. Greenberg certainly is a formalist, but Vasari and Gombrich are not. But although Gombrich has much to say about the social basis of art history, his histories describe a basically internal development.

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Monocultural Art-History Narratives 

Old Masters

Manet

Cubism

31

Abstract Expressionism

Diagram 6  Greenberg’s history

time line.20 “There is a direct tradition, handed down from master to pupil . . . which links the art of our own days . . . with the art of the Nile Valley of some five thousand years ago.”21 Here Gombrich makes himself Hegel’s successor.22 (For them Egypt is a part of Europe.) Hegel thought that Africa had no history and that China and India created no art of real significance.23 Gombrich, who rejects those beliefs, criticizes Hegel’s view of art as social expression. But in The Story of Art, art outside Europe makes only cameo appearances. A selection of European cave paintings, Australian Aboriginal drawings, and Maori, African, Oceanic, and old American carvings is discussed in the first chapter. Painting from Islam and China is bundled together in one short chapter set within the story of the European Middle Ages, when Western art was not concerned with mimesis.24 In “writing the history of the new game that had actually sprung up in Florence,” a story of progress as Gombrich identifies it, Vasari’s way of thinking remained influential into the mid-twentieth century.25 Greenberg has very different taste, but a similar view of tradition: “From Giotto to Courbet, the 20. Sometimes important European artists knew little about their most significant contemporaries. During Italy’s High Renaissance, Matthias Grünewald was painting in a very different style. “Though he was certainly familiar with some of the great discoveries of Italian art, he made use of them only as far as they suited his ideas of what art should do” (Gombrich, The Story of Art, 351). And we need but set Vermeer against contemporary Italian baroque masters to see what different styles were possible in the mid-seventeenth century. Even in the nineteenth century, when travel was easier, the German Romantics needed to take relatively little interest in their French contemporaries, and the English Pre-Raphaelites went their own way, without concern for Impressionism. To speak of the European tradition, then, is to refer to an idealization. 21. Gombrich, The Story of Art, 55. 22. Gombrich was highly critical of Hegel’s dialectic, but he did think similarly about the boundaries of art’s history. 23. Marx shared this view: “Indian society has no history at all, at least no known history. What we call its history, is but the history of successive intruders who founded their empires on the passive basis of that unresisting and unchanging society.” Karl Marx on Colonialism and Modernization, ed. Shlomo Avineri (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1969), 132. 24. Gombrich’s procedure is misleading: Islamic and Chinese art don’t have much in common; and Chinese art often was concerned with mimesis. But since his primary concern is to tell the story of art as illusion, there is no place for the art of China, India, and Islam. 25. “This idea of mankind being engaged in building up an autonomous realm of values which can somehow be conceived to exist beyond the individual’s contribution and comprehension remains inspiring.” E. H. Gombrich, “The Renaissance Conception of Artistic Progress and Its Consequences,” in Norm and Form: Studies in the Art of the Renaissance (London: Phaidon Press, 1966), 9, 10.

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painter’s first task had been to hollow out an illusion of three-dimensional space on a flat surface. One looked through this surface as through a proscenium into a stage. Modernism has rendered this stage shallower and shallower.”26 Speaking as all four historians implicitly do of European tradition is a useful idealization. There are, of course, other important historiographers in the European tradition, whose accounts could become the basis for a full history of European art. We might discuss Alois Riegl and his successors, the Marxist historians, various formalists, as well as Meyer Schapiro and Leo Steinberg, the most distinguished Americans. But for our present purposes, it is convenient to let Vasari, Hegel, Gombrich, and Greenberg stand for European art history, for they are canonical writers whose ways of thinking have been extremely influential. We are making a distinction in kind between an annal—a mere listing of works of art—and a proper historical narrative, which connects them. So, for example, the listing Giotto paints Arena Chapel, 1306 Leonardo paints the Mona Lisa, 1502 Constable paints Wivenhoe Park, 1816 can be converted into a narrative thus: Wivenhoe Park marks the culmination of the naturalistic tradition, exemplified in Leonardo’s Mona Lisa and begun by Giotto’s work in the Arena Chapel.27 This analysis has been severely criticized by Jonathan Gilmore.28 My annal, he suggests, already is an implicit historical explanation. Be that as it may, merely to list the paintings by Giotto, Leonardo, and Constable does not tell us how these works of art constitute a tradition. A textbook, for example, could just reproduce them without providing a narrative describing their connections. According to Vasari, Albrecht Dürer is a gifted but relatively marginal artist as viewed from within the Italian tradition: “If this man, so able, so diligent, and so versatile, had had Tuscany instead of Flanders for his country, and had been able to study the treasures of Rome, as we ourselves have 26. Greenberg, Art and Culture, 136. 27. See my Artwriting (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987), 26. 28. “What is missing in this characterization of a narrative’s subject is an acknowledgment of its explanatory dimension. . . . Giotto and Constable are brought together because Constable’s naturalism is explained by events and conditions in which Giotto, or the kind of art his work exemplified, played a role.” Jonathan Gilmore, The Life of a Style: Beginnings and Endings in the Narrative History of Art (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000), 33.

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done, he would have been the best painter of our land.”29 Nevertheless, Dürer’s distinctive Germanic way of making art is closely related to Vasari’s Tuscan tradition. When, by contrast, we look to Islam, then it is obvious that we are in a very different artistic culture developing on yet another time line.30

29. Vasari, Lives, 2:77. 30. Here art historians can learn from the colleagues doing economic analysis. “What characterizes a social system . . . is the fact that life within it is largely self-contained, and the dynamics of its development are largely internal.” Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century (New York: Academic Press, 1974), 347. Even within Europe we find quite different ways of understanding art. A manual for icon-makers gives this advice: “For a believer who creates iconographic images of the Christian faith, our task has little to do with personal creativity or imagination; we’re dealing with tradition, entrusted to us but never ours. We are servants to something and someone greater than we are.” Peter Pearson, A Brush with God: An Icon Workbook (Harrisburg: Morehouse, 2005), 59. Here we are far from Vasari.

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Why Monoculturalism Is Not the Whole Story

There is . . . an intellectually assumed and emotionally felt attitude among art historians that the major issues of visual understanding are the ones elaborated in the grand tradition of Western art. — o l eg g r abar

Imagine that Vasari meets Ernst Gombrich in the National Gallery, London. Vasari would find many of the fifteenth- and-sixteenth-century Italian paintings familiar. And he could readily comprehend the Italian baroque pictures, for they extend this visual culture. But what could he make of Cézanne or Seurat? If they retired to the museum café, the Tuscan would surely be bewildered by his successor’s remarks about experimental psychology and Karl Popper’s philosophy of science. But he would immediately grasp Gombrich’s concept of tradition. Constable, so Gombrich tells us, built upon the achievements of Poussin and Claude Lorrain and, extending the techniques of Gainsborough, “forged himself a language that was both truthful and poetic.”1 Vasari would comprehend that claim. If he then met Clement Greenberg in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, he would be extremely puzzled by Cubism, Matisse, and Abstract Expressionism. But he would understand Greenberg’s claim that these Modernists build upon tradition.2 Vasari, too, thinks of art in just this way. Gombrich and Greenberg took Vasari’s and Hegel’s Eurocentric ways of thinking into the mid-twentieth century. It is astonishing that the basic time line developed by Vasari proved so very supple. The essential presupposition of a monocultural history is that all significant art can be set on one time line. From Cimabue to Jackson Pollock and Morris 1. E. H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961), 388. 2. “Modernist art continues the past without gap or break, and wherever it may end up it will never cease being intelligible in terms of the past.” Clement Greenberg, “Modernist Painting,” in The Collected Essays and Criticism, vol. 4, Modernism with a Vengeance, 1957–1969, ed. John O’Brian (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 92.

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Louis, European painting changed very dramatically. Religious subjects ceased to be important, the social role of the artist dramatically changed, and abstraction was invented. The whole culture underwent very drastic metamorphoses as mass art developed and art museums were created. But this is still one tradition, and fits on one time line, because changes occurred in stages. Just as a person is a small infant, a gangly adolescent, and then a mature adult, the body changing dramatically as mental powers develop, so in this tradition art developed dramatically.3 A succession of small changes can have an enormous cumulative effect. The same is true in other cultures. In China, for example, “calligraphers through the centuries have succeeded in developing enduring personal styles which, in time, contribute additional details of form to a tradition that has endured for almost seven thousand years.”4 As Stella Kramrisch says in his history of Indian art: “The craftsman is a link in the unbroken chain of the Tradition. Through his work he confirms the continued presence of the masters.”5 Wen C. Fong, similarly, opens his history of painting in China from the eighth to the fourteenth century by remarking: “Anyone who looks at a fourteenthcentury Yüan dynasty (1279–1388) literati  . . . landscape painting knows that what he is seeing is a totally changed world from that portrayed in the monumental landscape images of the early Sung dynasty (960–1279). . . . To chronicle and somehow explain this phenomenon is the purpose of this book.”6 These traditions have a unity not possessed by a mere grouping of visually related artifacts. Donatello’s sculptures and Indian Buddhas; Brueghel’s landscapes and Chinese scrolls; Persian miniatures and Renaissance book illustrations: these pairs of artifacts look similar. A Donatello looks more like the Chinese Buddha than like an abstract David Smith. And a Brueghel landscape looks like a Chinese scroll landscape than like an abstract Sean Scully. But Donatello, Brueghel, Smith, and Scully work within European tradition, while Indian sculptors and Chinese and Persian painters belong to other traditions. Continuity, not mere visual resemblance, defines a tradition.7 Giotto learned from Cimabue, and in turn was a source for High Renaissance art. The works of art 3. David Wiggins, Sameness and Substance (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1980). This is the standard philosophical account of identity. 4. Shen Fu, Glenn D. Lowry, and Ann Yonemura, From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy (Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, 1986), 18. 5. Stella Kramrisch, The Art of India: Traditions of Indian Sculpture, Painting and Architecture (London: Phaidon, 1954), 13. 6. Wen C. Fong, Beyond Representation: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, 8th–14th Century (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992), 3–4. 7. Scully’s paintings were much influenced by popular Moroccan culture. But imagine that before the Muslims of North Africa had contact with the European art world, Moroccan craftsman put together painted strips, which looked much like these abstractions. They would nevertheless be

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in this European tradition are causally connected, and time lines represent these connections. Proposing to avoid the usual time lines, James Elkins instead creates fascinating informal charts, or maps,8 which replace objective causal connections with merely private associations. But doing that takes us away from the traditional art historian’s concern for understanding how an artist comes into and then modifies a tradition. What makes it plausible to group successive works of art on one time line are the real historical connections they map. A time line represents successive works of art within one tradition. In Europe, for example, Masaccio influenced Perugino, who was the teacher of Raphael. And so these three artists appear left to right on one time line. But understanding the objective causal connections of their art requires an aesthetic, which will be controversial. According to Vasari and Gombrich, European tradition is marked by progress in illusionism. But for Hegel, the history of art in Europe is a story of social expression. Greenberg presents yet another aesthetic, a Marxist genealogy. And there are other aesthetics than these three. Within Muslim cultures, art was made also for Christians and Jews. And because Islamic art derives from Byzantine visual culture, such important early monuments as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Great Mosque in Damascus could be classified as Byzantine architecture.9 But these are marginal cases. When we look at major works of art from many cultures, the body of Islamic art is identifiable because it shares distinctive features.10 The same is true of many Chinese, European, and Indian works of art. Because they are visually connected, it is natural to set them on time lines. This is, of course, an idealization, necessary for analysis. In taking this view of the identity of Chinese, European, Indian, and Islamic culture, we find parallels in the concerns of historians. The dynasty that ruled China starting in 221 b.c. had enormous influence. But because “it was narrowly and rigorously legalistic, statist in a way that expressly denied all humanistic values, and quite implacable in its scorn for venerable tradition,” the Chinese consensus was that it was “un-Chinese.”11 Chinese culture has a certain distinctive essence. Some historians are critical of these essentialist ways of speaking. “It was in nineteenth-century Europe and North America,” Craig Clunas writes, “that very different works of art. An art dealer asked Scully to participate in an exhibition containing PreColumbian fabrics, which looked somewhat like his paintings. He refused because his art is in a different tradition. 8. James Elkins, Stories of Art (New York: Routledge, 2002), 1. 9. D. Talbot Rice, Byzantine Art ( Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968), 20. 10. Oleg Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), 1. Grabar goes on first to question but then ultimately to justify this intuition. 11. Frederick W. Mote, Intellectual Foundations of China (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989), 102.

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‘Chinese art’ was created.” But since his book is titled Art in China, he too needs to speak of art made in China. Once he tells this history, then he needs to speak of art, not just what he calls the creators of “textiles, pieces of calligraphy, paintings, sculptures, ceramics and other works of art.”12 Whether or not the Chinese had our concept of Chinese art, these artifacts share significant qualities.13 What links together works of art in a tradition is a shared aesthetic, sometimes spelled out by artists or their contemporaries. “Alberti was a completely equipped humanist, but when he writes about painting he no longer belongs entirely with the humanists; he is instead a painter, perhaps of a rather eccentric kind, with access to humanist resources. 14 His Chinese counterpart was Ku K’ai-chih (345–406), whose “Essay on Painting” and critical assessments of various masters complement his own visual art.15 Like Europe, China had a highly elaborate tradition of art writing. But the aesthetics for India and the Islamic world need to be worked out by outsiders. To define a tradition, it is not enough to observe that painters of different times painted in distinctive ways. What gives especial value to art that progresses is that “the artist . . . is automatically taken out of the social nexus of buying and selling. His duty lies less with the customer than with Art. He must hand on the torch, make his contribution; he stands in the stream of history—and this is a stream which the historians set in motion. The idea of progress brings in an entirely new element.”16 A tradition is impersonal. Gombrich contrasts the medieval ideal of the craftsman with a Renaissance perspective, which defines, still, our conception of the artist. “From Florence to Rome, from Rome to Paris, from Paris to New York, the problems of interest might change from realism to expression or the articulation of the unconscious, but the momentum of the revolution that started in Florence was never spent.”17 Deep innovation gives grand success in the marketplace, which needs connoisseurs and art critics. 12. Craig Clunas, Art in China (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 9. He echoes Gombrich’s nominalism: “There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists.” E. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art (London: Phaidon, 1995), 15. 13. Imagine some historian who groups together paintings, sculptures and also cooking, army battle tactics, and dog shows in her account of art in some culture. This seems a strange list. By contrast, Clunas’s Chinese are not very exotic. They devote much attention to calligraphy and take great interest in jade, but their art writers have concerns much like ours. 14. Michael Baxandall, Giotto and the Orators: Humanist Observers of Painting in Italy and the Discovery of Pictorial Composition, 1350–1450 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), 121. 15. Susan Bush and Hsio-yen Shih, eds., Early Chinese Texts on Painting (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985), 20. 16. E.  H.  Gombrich, “The Renaissance Conception of Artistic Progress,” in Norm and Form: Studies in the Art of the Renaissance (London: Phaidon, 1966), 4. 17. Ibid., 10.

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Within one visual tradition, radical changes can occur. In the European tradition, Jackson Pollock’s paintings are very different from Cimabue’s. Even within a shorter time, great developments may occur. Matisse, who was a great admirer of Cézanne, was a pupil of Gustave Moreau. And Matisse, in turn, influenced Richard Diebenkorn. Without telling the story of Matisse’s long career, it would be hard to relate his late cutouts to the paintings of Cézanne and Moreau, or explain his art’s relation to Diebenkorn’s abstractions. A radically original artist may dramatically transform his tradition. But such changes within a tradition differ in kind from change produced by contact with another tradition. Art within a tradition belongs on one time line, but when distant art-making cultures make contact, then previously distinct time lines intersect. Before there was sustained contact between these distant cultures, Chinese, European, Indian, and Islamic art were on independent time lines. Like Europe, China had a long, mostly self-sufficient tradition. “[Emperor] Huizong is supposed to have disliked the work of Guo Zi . . . perhaps on account of its scale, or perhaps because he felt its subject-matter was insufficiently meaningful or poetic.”18 “After his court fell,” Clunas explains, the emperor Gaozong (1127–62) sponsored art like Ma Hezhi’s, designed “to convince the political elite of his fitness to rule.”19 This sentence spells out the relationship of these three entries on a time line charting the history of art in China. And so it is easy to turn that graph into a narrative. Let us represent that art world, then, on two parallel time lines (diagram 7). Until Giuseppe Castiglione and his Jesuits arrived in China, there was no ongoing contact between European and Chinese artistic traditions. Cimabue and Raphael did not know their Chinese peers, Ren Renfa (1255–1327) and Tang Yin (1470–1524).20 And so Cimabue and Raphael are on one time line and Ren Renfa and Tang Yin on another, the Italian artists incapable of influencing their Chinese near-contemporaries. India has yet another highly complex tradition. Thanks to Alexander the Great, India had early contact with Europe; and later this complicated culture, with Buddhist and Hindu art, responded to invasions by Muslims. Islam, finally, created perhaps the most difficult-to-reconstruct tradition, for it originated, in large part, in reaction against the Christian art found in conquered countries. “During the first century after the conquest the Muslims were brought into immediate contact with the fantastic artistic wealth of the Mediterranean and Iran. They were strongly affected by a world in which

18. Clunas, Art in China, 57. 19. Ibid., 59. 20. Ibid., 156, 158.

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Cimabue

Raphael

Ren Renfa

Tang Yin

Diagram 7  Parallel time lines for art in Europe and China

images, buildings, and objects were active expressions of social standing, religion, political allegiance, and intellectual or theological positions.”21 Here, then, we have a time line that starts later than those of China, Europe and India, in the eighth century. The Qur’an reworks the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, presenting many familiar figures in a novel context. “Those who say, ‘God is the Messiah, son of Mary,’ have defied God. The Messiah himself said, ‘Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord.’ If anyone associates others with God, God will forbid him from the Garden, and Hell will be his home.”22 So, too, Muslims used Christian visual traditions to suit their own purposes. We have, then, this basic structure for a world art history (diagram 8). Working out the cross-connections would be difficult, but the basic plan is simple. Moving horizontally across one time line, we view the successive works of art in that tradition. Moving vertically, we go from one time line to another, marking out the distance between distinct artistic traditions. When traditions intersect, previously distant visual cultures make contact. Sometimes, then, artists borrow from another tradition. Alexander the Great led his Greek army into India, influencing Buddhist sculpture.23 And when Buddhism migrated from India to China, it brought along artistic motifs. Islamic art’s history is especially complicated, for although it originated close to the traditions of Europe, it was always very concerned to maintain its independence.24 But for the most part, these four traditions developed in relative independence on parallel time lines. The Europeans “knew something, however vaguely and inaccurately, about Africa and Asia. But they knew nothing about America and its inhabitants.”25 And so Western artists responded to the conquest of the Americas only on their own terms, depicting parrots, turkeys, and other exotic animals and showing the landscapes and peoples 21. Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art, 96. 22. Qur’an 5:72. The edition I am quoting is The Qur’an, trans. M. A. S. Abdel Haleem (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). 23. See Partha Mitter, Indian Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 23. 24. “Insofar as the Muslim conquest was very rarely destructive, it can be taken for granted that earlier artistic traditions continued at almost every level of creation and patronage and that their production was used by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.” Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art, 10. 25. J. H. Elliott, The Old World and the New, 1492–1650 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 8.

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Europe

China

India

Islamic World Diagram 8  World art history

in the style in which they depicted their home countries.26 But at that time Aztec and Mayan art were too exotic to affect European painters or sculptors. These four traditions are basically distinct, each possessing its own essence. According to nominalists, only individuals exist. “There really is no such thing as Art,” Gombrich writes: “There are only artists.”27 However we judge this metaphysical claim, when Gombrich (and Clunas) write histories, they describe artistic traditions. Assembling many artifacts, these art writers identify their common features. “If the Chinese arts are to be treated globally, as now appears desirable, the European distinction between ‘fine’ and ‘applied’ art must be revised or abolished.”28 Quite independently, many Western scholars recently have questioned that distinction, which even in the West is a relatively recent creation. The European works of art in The Story of Art and the Chinese artifacts in Art in China are visually distinctive. So too are the works of art discussed by historians of India and the Islamic world. Few cultures develop in complete isolation; visual ideas often are exchanged. But treating our four traditions as distinct, a plausible idealization, is a necessary precondition for analysis. There is a difference in kind between occasional exchanges between traditions, which occur throughout history, and what happens when previously parallel time lines intersect. Our diagram of a multicultural art history shows that Vasari’s time line cannot be the basis for a world art history. Initially, when Europeans encountered exotic traditions, they thought that exotic art was too bad to be taken seriously.29 When Europeans first came to India, they found little to admire. They were 26. See Hugh Honour, The New Golden Land: European Images of America from the Discoveries to the Present Time (New York: Pantheon, 1976), chaps. 2–3. 27. Gombrich, The Story of Art, 15. 28. William Watson, The Arts of China to ad 900 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), vii. 29. “Through the whole Hindu Pantheon you will look in vain for anything resembling those beautiful and majestic forms which stood in the shrines of Ancient Greece. All is hideous, and

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unprepared for sculptures showing exhibitionism, intercourse, homosexual relations, oral sex, bestiality, and orgies.30 Of course European literature and some visual art described such scenes, but normally erotic art was not conspicuous in public places. When Europeans first came to India, most found little to admire. “A great deal of their art, even their religious art, is definitely pornographic, and although I have no moral prejudices against that form of expression it generally interferes with aesthetic considerations by imposing a strong irrelevant interest which tends to distract both the artist and the spectator from the essential purposes of a work of art.”31 The secular-minded Roger Fry had these problems— early Christian visitors were outraged. Judged by European standards, much Indian art is given to serious excess, and so could not command respect.32 This exotic art cannot be placed within Vasari’s narrative. “It is a natural consequence of the Indian aversion from contingent reality and emphasis on the ideal that the painters of India have never concerned themselves with analyzing the structure of visual reality as Western artists have.”33 Indian art looked exotic in part because the Indian religious ideals are exotic.34 In Elephanta, for example, Shiva appears in eight monumental sculpted tableaux. “Seated in yogic posture as the great teacher Lakulisha; trapping demonking Ravana beneath mount Kailasa; playing dice with his consort Parvati; in his astonishing manifestation as Ardhanari or Half-Woman; facilitating the descent to earth of the heavenly Ganges; celebrating his marriage to the lovely Parvati; in the enraged activity of destroying the demon Andhaka; and dancing a joyous, triumphant dance.”35 Christian European art has no equivalent subjects. Similar stories could be told about European encounters with China and Islam. grotesque and ignoble.” Lord Macaulay (1843), quoted in The Powers of Art: Patronage in Indian Culture, ed. Barbara Stoler Miller (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992), 1. 30. See Devangana Desai, Erotic Sculpture of India: A Socio-Cultural Study (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1985). 31. Roger Fry, Last Lectures (Boston: Beacon Press, 1962), 150. 32. “That moderation which in the West appears as the fundamental condition of artistic production, is unknown to the Hindu, because he never proceeds from the idea of a complete whole, perfect in itself, but from the conception of an individual figure; to him a work of art is the sum total of single and separate elements.” Ludwig Bachhofer, Early Indian Sculpture (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1973), 18. 33. Philip Rawson, Indian Painting (Paris: Pierre Tisnem, 1961), 13. 34. “The best-known icon of Vishnu shows him sleeping upon the endless serpent of eternity, afloat on the ocean of unresolved essence. From his navel a lotus springs and unfolds to reveal the creative deity, Brahma, whose function is the active propagation of the material worlds, channeling through himself the existential force of Vishnu.” Philip Rawson, Indian Sculpture (London: Studio Vista, 1966), 58. 35. Vidya Dehejia, Indian Art (London: Phaidon, 1997). 126. See also Carmel Berkson, Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty, and George Michell, Elephanta, The Cave of Shiva (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1999), and George Michell, Elephanta (Mumbai: India Book House, 2002).

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The Chinese found the exotic art that the Jesuits brought to China bewildering. The European artists were not, to Chinese eyes, very good at depicting landscape. Their portraits and paintings of the Virgin might seem dazzlingly real, like images in a mirror, but their pictures of rocks and trees and mountains, which demanded more than illusionistic technique, cannot have seemed very convincing as representations. Any good Chinese artist, drawing on his native tradition, could have painted rocks that looked more like rocks in nature than these.36 They were puzzled by perspective and European naturalism.37 Chinese tradition defines another time line, parallel to that developed by Vasari. The Chinese “possess the longest continuous cultural history of any of the peoples of the world. . . . The China that is a world power today is the direct descendant of Neolithic, proto-Chinese cultures established in the Yellow River valley more than four thousand years ago.”38 At the end of the Ming Dynasty, Hung-jên (1620–63) showed how closely an artist of the seventeenth century could replicate the concerns of a fourteenth-century precursor.39 An isolated culture takes as given its own ways of thinking. Before contacts with exotic cultures were common, it was easy for people to believe that their ways of doing things were the only right ways.40 If you have not seen exotic art, then how can you respond sympathetically? Seventeenth-century Chinese found European perspective and shading all wrong. “The Europeans . . . know how to represent light and shade, distance and proximity. . . . They paint palaces and rooms on walls, imitating reality so closely that you imagine you are confronted by a true palace and are about to enter it. . . . Their paintings are nothing but skilled craftsmanship.”41 And Westerners found Chinese paintings 36. James Cahill, The Compelling Image: Nature and Style in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Painting (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982), 96. 37. “What the Chinese artist records is not a single visual confrontation but an accumulation of experience touched off perhaps by one moment’s exaltation before the beauty of nature. . . . This kind of generalization is quite different from that of Claude Lorrain and Poussin, whose idyllic landscapes deliberately evoke a long-forgotten golden age.” Michael Sullivan, The Arts of China (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984), 156. 38. Laurence Sickman and Alexander Soper, The Art and Architecture of China (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971), 1. 39. Ibid., 352. 40. “In a closed world of conventions, a world in which Other Cultures have not entered, there would be no way of distinguishing between the laws of nature and the conventions and rules of society.” Arthur C. Danto, Analytical Philosophy of Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 114. 41. Cécile Beurdeley and Michel Beurdeley, Giuseppe Castiglione: A Jesuit Painter at the Court of the Chinese Emperors, trans. Michael Bullock (Rutland, Vt.: Charles E. Tuttle, 1971), 147.

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equally difficult to understand. We understand best and so value what we know. But when you try to understand the art of another culture, then monoculturalism is no longer a plausible position. You can, of course, conclude that your beliefs are correct and those of every other culture wrongheaded. But that way of thinking, which cuts you off from new experience, is merely dogmatic parochialism. Trying to understand what looks exotic is a more productive strategy. A culture that isolates itself is doomed to provincialism. Once this argument was discovered in the late eighteenth century, then the necessity of multiculturalism was obvious. There can be no universal monocultural history of art, no account telling the story of the developments in China, Europe, India, and Islam in one continuous story. It is not possible to extend the story of art, in the way that Gombrich extended Vasari’s narrative, to encompass art from all cultures. Once we seriously study art from other cultures, then we have parallel stories. Diverse societies making art developed essentially independently, creating artifacts that must be set on parallel time lines. Although the implications of this fact became obvious when nineteenthcentury historians looked seriously at art from outside Europe, this argument could have been anticipated even in Vasari’s day. By 1550, when Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects appeared, Europeans had conquered the New World and sailed to China and India. But it took us a long time to learn to appreciate exotic art.42 For this reason, using the word “monocultural” to describe European artistic traditions really is an anachronism. Only after encounter with other cultures, when the European awareness of multiculturalism is created, does it make sense to identify, by contrast, the single time line of monoculturalism.43 Now the world is one. Wherever you make art, however attached you are to local ways of thinking, today you can hardly be unaware of other visual cultures. Artists everywhere look to their peers in other cultures and study the history of exotic visual art. And so our task now is to understand the implications of multiculturalism.44

42. “Not being interested in other cultures is the normal state of mankind.” Bernard Lewis, The Muslim Discovery of Europe (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001), 9. 43. “Globalization has shrunk the distance between elites, shifted key relations between producers and consumers, broken many links between labor and family life, obscured the lines between temporary locales and imaginary national attachments.” Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 9–10. 44. After demonstrating that Eurocentric monocultural accounts cannot satisfactory present a world art history, Elkins fails to consider this alternative. He implies that either we have extensions of Vasari’s art history, such as Gombrich’s, or merely subjective maps. But there are other alternatives.

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Even today non-European societies are held by the grip of European cultural values. . . . Can we afford to hold on to such monolithic canons when the world is shrinking and there is an ever-growing need to recognize cultural diversity? — pa r t ha m it t e r

Within a Budding Grove, the second volume of Remembrance of Things Past, tells of young Marcel’s studio visit with Elstir.1 After looking at paintings, they discuss the Balbec church. “Some parts of it,” Elstir explains, “are quite oriental. One of the capitals reproduces so exactly a Persian subject that . . . the carver must have copied some casket brought from the East by navigators.”2 Like works of art, artistic styles migrate—as when Proust’s French sculpture uses Islamic motifs.3 Here the novelist shows a deep sensitivity to medieval visual culture. “There is in western art from the seventh to the thirteenth century an immense receptivity matched in few cultures before that time or even later; early Christian, Byzantine, Sassanian, Coptic, Syrian, Roman, Moslem, Celtic, and pagan Germanic forms were borrowed then, often without regard to their context and meaning.”4 Normally, however, artistic traditions are relatively independent. 1. See my “Marcel’s Studio Visit with Elstir,” ArtUS 9 (July–September 2005): 29–39. 2. Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove, in Remembrance of Things Past, vol. 1, trans. C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin (New York: Vintage, 1982), 901. See also Peter Collier, Proust and Venice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), chap. 7. 3. Proust’s description of this imaginary church borrows closely from the writings of the art historian Emile Mâle, whom he consulted; see Marcel Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu, vol. 2, ed. Jean-Yves Tadié (Paris: Gallimard, 1988), 1438. Also J. Theodore Johnson, “Proust and Painting,” in Critical Essays on Marcel Proust, ed. Barbara J. Bucknall (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1987); Alain de Botton, How Proust Can Change Your Life: Not a Novel (New York: Pantheon, 1997); Philip Kolb, “The Birth of Elstir and Vinteuil,” in Marcel Proust: A Critical Panorama, ed. Larkin B. Price (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973); George D. Painter, Proust: The Later Years (Boston: Little, Brown, 1965). 4. Meyer Schapiro, “On the Aesthetic Attitude in Romanesque Art,” in Romanesque Art (New York: George Braziller, 1977), 16.

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Our diagram of world art history shows that after 1522 the traditions of China, Europe, India, and the Islamic world merged, but it doesn’t tell what happened when that merging took place. Only when your own tradition has developed to a suitable point can you borrow from another.5 Behzac (1460?–1535), the famous painter of miniatures, reworked Persian tradition, giving new life to the human figures.6 But because the Islamic art world was not then in contact with Europe, he had no connection with Raphael (1483–1520), his contemporary. Had Raphael seen Behzac’s art, he could have made nothing of it. Van Eyck and Holbein could make no use of all-over Islamic carpet designs; Ming Dynasty Chinese were uninterested in European perspective. And although Albrecht Dürer was fascinated by the wonderful works of art brought from the New World, they had no effect on his development.7 Rembrandt, who drew Mughal subjects, did not adopt Indian-style colors.8 Only in the twentieth century did Bonnard and the fauves use full-intensity colors. Contacts between previously distant cultures often were violent. On the morning of 8 November 1519, on a causeway crossing Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico, a unique encounter in world history occurred. Moctezuma met Cortés. . . . On the one hand there is communication; each leader successfully conveys to the other both his position of authority and his desire for their meeting to be friendly and imbued with mutual respect. On the other hand, there is miscommunication, as the two struggle to find common ground between two different cultures of lordly address and treatment.9 And when the Portuguese sailors led by Vasco da Gama got to India, there were elaborate misunderstandings. The Indians 5. “Man only responds to precedent when the world in which he lives is ripe for it.” Rudolf Wittkower, Selected Lectures of Rudolf Wittkower: The Impact of Non-European Civilizations on the Art of the West, ed. Donald Martin Reynolds (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 35. 6. Oleg Grabar, Mostly Miniatures: An Introduction to Persian Painting (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 62. 7. Hugh Honour, The New Golden Land: European Images of America from the Discoveries to the Present Time (New York: Pantheon, 1976), 28. 8. “In Western painting . . . colours are rarely left their full intensity. They are ‘killed.’ A red will be slightly reduced in status toward purplish brown or stained with green, in order to ‘harmonise’ it with its neighbour tones. . . . The early Rajput painters did exactly the opposite. To them a pure clear colour in all its brilliance was beautiful in its own right.” Philip S. Rawson, Indian Painting (Paris: Pierre Tisne, 1961), 136. 9. Matthew Restall, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 77, 82.

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were shown an altarpiece that represented Our Lady at the foot of the cross. . . . When the Indians saw the picture they threw themselves on the deck and uttered extended prayers. . . . Later [they]  . . . shouted words the Portuguese heard as ‘Christ! Christ! The reality was very different from what Vasco and his men perceived. The image . . . bore a close resemblance to one that Hindus in their region worshipped. . . . The words they shouted were actually “Krishna! Krishna!”10 The Portuguese, seeing that the temples contained images of gods with human bodies, rightly concluded that the Indians were not Muslims, but falsely inferred that they were Christians.11 By the early 1600s Europeans discovered the Hindu cave art at Elephanta, just east of Mumbai. A European visitor who otherwise responded sympathetically was shocked by the phallic sculpture: “In the middle of the chapel is a square stone seat of twenty-four spans, where there is a figure of an idol so very dishonest that we forbear to name it. It is called by the Hindu ling and is worshipped with great superstition.”12 Then and later, Europeans often had difficulties with erotic Indian art. The Muslim view of Hindu culture was no more sympathetic. On his visit to India in the eleventh century, the central Asian astronomer al-Biruni was scandalized by “Hindu religious beliefs, sexual habits, and social customs. Taken together, they demonstrated to his satisfaction the ‘essential foulness’ of Indian culture as against the manifest superiority of Islamic institutions.”13 Understanding an exotic culture on its own terms is hard. The examples assembled in Hugh Honour’s account of European encounters with the cultures of the Americas show meetings only from one point of view.14 Typically we see European-style paintings depicting these peoples, just as, a little later, we find representations of Westerners making contact with the peoples of Oceania.15 Travel did not by itself create multicultural art. 10. Ronald Watkins, Unknown Seas: How Vasco da Gama Opened the West (London: John Murray, 2003), 228. 11. Stuart Cary Welch, “Encounters with India: Land of Gold, Spices, and Matters Spiritual,” in Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration, ed. Jay A. Levenson, exhibition catalogue (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1992), 364. 12. Diego de Coutto, quoted in George Michell, Elephanta (Mumbai: India Book House, 2002), 115. 13. Jerry H. Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 119. 14. Honour, The New Golden Land. 15. See Leonard Bell, Colonial Constructs: European Images of Maori, 1840–1914 (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 1992).

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To do business with another culture, you must have something for exchange. But you can trade many sorts of goods without knowing or caring about the worldview of the culture you trade with. Europeans imported Islamic carpets and the Greek texts translated into Arabic, but in the fifteenth century there was not, as yet, a single Christian Arabic scholar in Europe.16 Nor were the Muslims interested in the religion of their neighbors. During the Middle Ages, Western Europe produced for export only weapons, slaves, and English wool.17 Even in the early Renaissance, this situation remained unchanged. “In the early fourteenth century, the West remained essentially an area of little interest at the cold fringes of the civilized world, producing slaves, furs and other raw materials to be exchanged for the refined wares manufactured in the Middle East.”18 In 751, the Muslims captured Chinese papermakers, and then soon printed Qur’ans.19 But they did not also make scroll paintings. Only a limited range of goods was traded between the Islamic world and Egypt. “European envoys presented Muslim monarchs with silver- and gold-plated coffee and later tea services, jeweled watches, and military hardware from the seventeenth century onward, thereby stimulating elite desire for European commodities, while European elites eagerly received exotic products, silk ribbons, and brocades.”20 Serious, sustained, objective understanding of exotic visual cultures is a recent development. Concern with art from other cultures tends to take a long time to develop. Sometimes, after such contacts, eclectic art, drawing on the visual styles of several cultures, is created. Europeans destroyed the Native American cultures. But stronger societies such as India were colonized or, like China and the Islamic world, transformed and drawn into the European world economy. Some artists abandoned their own traditions and took up exotic ones. Chinese, Indian, and Islamic artists learned to make oil paintings. And Giuseppe Castiglione (1688–1766), the Jesuit who was trained as a Baroque artist, become a skilled 16. See Cécile Beurdeley and Michel Beurdeley, Giuseppe Castiglione: A Jesuit Painter at the Court of the Chinese Emperors, trans. Michael Bullock (Rudland, Vt.: Charles E. Tuttle, 1971). 17. Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton, Global Interests: Renaissance Art Between East and West (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000), 32, 42; David Talbot Rice, Islamic Art (London: Thames and Hudson, 1965), 224–26. Costanzo da Ferrara also made a portrait showing Mehmet  II, conquerer of Constantinople. 18. See Partha Mitter, Indian Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 124. 19. Navina N. Haidar Heykel, “A Lacquer Pen-Box by Manohar: An Example of Late SafavidStyle painting in India,” in Arts of Mughal India: Studies in Honour of Robert Skelton, eds. Rosemary Crill, Susan Stronge, and Andrew Topsfield (Ahmedabad: Mapin, 2004), 176–89. 20. Rosemary Crill, “Visual Responses: Depicting Europeans in South Asia,” in Encounters: The Meeting of Asia and Europe 1500–1800, ed. Anna Jackson and Amin Jaffer (London: V and A, 2004), 192.

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Chinese-style painter.21 Sometimes, however, artists borrowed from exotic cultures. The late fifteenth-century Persian Bihzad’s Portrait of a Painter in Turkish Costume copies a drawing Seated Scribe, showing an oriental figure by the Italian Costanzo da Ferrara.22 And many Indian artists studied European art. In 1598, an artist made a miniature after a Flemish print, Deposition from the Cross.23 A late seventeenth-century pen box made by a Muslim in India contains an image of Nicolas Poussin’s Autumn.24 “The Europeans shown in Mughal paintings from the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are mostly male. . . . Indian artists . . . were obviously aware of the contradictory conventions of seventeenthcentury female dress, which appeared cumbersome and constrained, but also allowed for erotic possibilities such as exposure of the bosom.”25 The emperor Akbar (1556–1605), who sought out new luxury goods, was fascinated by European art.26 The Spanish took gold and silver from the New World, and Europeans traded extensively with China and India. “An oceanic economy of imposing wealth and scale was created, employing a far greater volume of tonnage than previously used over such distances, and with the opening of the Pacific and the close association with, and ultimate annexation of, the Portuguese empire, Spain came to control a network of trades embracing the whole globe.”27 “The Chinese, with their preference for light housing, heavy clothes and concentrated warmth, used silk for brocade, a heavy textile, while the Romans, with their preference for heavy housing, light clothes and diffused warmth, used it for gauze, a light textile.”28 But much of what a culture makes is only of interest to those sharing its worldview. Europeans coveted gold from America, and learned to value the potato and the turkey, but they were not interested in the Aztec or Mayan religions.29 Muslims 21. Michael Brand and Glenn D. Lowry, Akbar’s India: Art from the Mughal City of Victory, exhibition catalogue (New York: Asia Society, 1986), 96. Also see John Keay, India: A History (London: HarperCollins, 2000), 311. As a patron, Akbar deserves comparison with Louis XIV. 22. R. W. Southern, Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1962), 87. By the next century, however, there were chairs of Arabic in European universities; see Bernard Lewis, The Muslim Discovery of Europe (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001), 137. 23. Lewis, The Muslim Discovery of Europe, 91. 24. Anna Contadini, “Artistic Contacts: Current Scholarship and Future Tasks,” in Islam and the Italian Renaissance, ed. Charles Burnett and Anna Contadini (London: Warburg Institute, 1999), 3. 25. Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair, Islamic Arts (London: Phaidon, 1997), 191–92. 26. Amira K. Bennison, “Muslim Universalism and Western Globalization,” in Globalization in World History, ed. A. G. Hopkins (New York: W. W. Norton, 2002), 86. 27. G. V. Scammell, The World Encompassed: The First European Maritime Empires, c. 800–1650 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1981), 327. 28. S. A. M. Adshead, China in World History (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995), 37. 29. Honour, The New Golden Land, 43.

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desired European weapons, but not Christian theological tracts. They translated Greek philosophy, but not classical theater. “The Arabic translations seem to represent the earliest large-scale attempt . . . to take over from an alien civilization its sciences and techniques regarded as universally valid, while other manifestations of that civilization, which were supposed to lack this kind of validity, were more or less neglected.”30 It would certainly not be the last such attempt.31 Multiculturalism teaches you which of your achievements are parochial. Sacred Indian art embodies Buddhist, Hindu, or Islamic beliefs, which were alien to Christians. And the media of Chinese paintings and the nature philosophy they exemplify seemed incomprehensible to early European visitors. Rare exotic artifacts were gathered in European Wunder- and Kunstkammern alongside fossils, stuffed animals, and unusual stones. But before multiculturalism, usually you needed to be inside a culture to value its art, literature, history, and religion. Nowadays historians, scholars of comparative religion, and art historians seek to understand other cultures in an objective way. “If the factual beliefs of India are false,” Arthur Danto writes, “there is very little point in Indian philosophy, and very little room for serious application of Indian moral beliefs.”32 True enough, but the cultural anthropologist will be fascinated by Indian philosophy. We perhaps cannot understand exotic paintings as did people within their original culture. In China “the preconditions for landscape include a non-anthropomorphic nature philosophy. . . . nothing occurred to seriously interrupt or reverse the steady growth of a generally accepted philosophy of nature that provided a perfect climate for great landscape painting.”33 But we can reconstruct the artists’ worldview and so value the arts of China, India, and Islam without accepting the religious beliefs they embody. In a number of paintings dating from 1908 through 1913, Henri Matisse presents in a radically revelatory way an aesthetic derived from Islamic art and decoration. Renaissance European painters depicted carpets, setting them within interiors or cityscapes composed using perspective. In Matisse’s pictures, which deconstruct this tradition, the carpet provides a model for pictorial 30. S. Pines, “Philosophy,” in The Cambridge History of Islam, ed. P. M. Holt, Ann K. S. Lambton, and Bernard Lewis, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 2:782. 31. Islamists call on Muslim societies to adopt from Western civilization its science, technology, and organization of public services. However, they reject the West’s ideology and its basis: secular materialism. Jacques Waardenburg, “Reflections on the West,” in Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century, ed. Suha Taji-Farouki and Basheer M. Nafi (London: I. B. Bauris, 2004), 272. 32. Arthur C. Danto, Mysticism and Morality: Oriental Thought and Moral Philosophy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), 21. 33. Sherman E. Lee, Chinese Landscape Painting (Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 1962), 3.

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composition.34 Thanks to imperialism, Matisse visited Morocco as a privileged tourist. But his decorative paintings internalized an Islamic way of thinking. “Matisse’s elaboration of a doctrine, a myth of happiness obviously corresponded both to personal needs and to the trend of the times, but it was helped along and confirmed by Islamic art, which illustrates, as much through its contents as through its form, the dogma of happiness.”35 Recent scholarship has traced the links between Matisse’s development and Islamic art in close detail.36 Owen Jones’s great pioneering treatise The Grammar of Ornament (1856) described Islamic art in terms that retain their interest even today. “The early edifices of the Mohammedans were either old Roman or Byzantine buildings adapted to their own uses, or buildings constructed on the ruins and with the materials of ancient monuments. . . . The new wants to be supplied, and the new feelings to be expressed, must at a very early period have given a peculiar character to their architecture.”37 These patterns, he argues, retain traces of their Greek origins, but what a difference: “With the Greeks the flowers or leaves do not form part of the scroll but grow out of it, whilst with the Arabs the scroll was transformed into an intermediate leaf.”38 In the 1890s, Alois Riegl developed and transformed these ideas. Describing “the historical and genetic continuity in the development of vegetal tendril ornament from antiquity up to more modern times,” he argued that “vegetal ornament . . . maintained a strictly historical course since the earliest known records of human artistic activity.”39 Riegl died in 1905, and so, when in 1910 a great exhibition of Islamic art was held in Munich, writing the catalogue essays was a task left to his followers. Matisse visited this exhibition. 34. Pierre Schneider, Matisse, trans. Michael Taylor and Bridget Strevens Romer (New York: Rizzoli, 1984), 164. 35. Ibid., 180. 36. See Remi Labrusse, “‘What Remains Belongs to God’: Henri Matisse, Alois Riegl and the Arts of Islam,” in Matisse, His Art and His Textiles: The Fabric of Dreams , exhibition catalogue (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005), 46–61. 37. Owen Jones, The Grammar of Ornament (1856; repr., New York: Van Nostrand, 1972), 56. 38. Ibid., 57–58. 39. Alois Riegl, Problems of Style: Foundations of a History of Ornament, trans. Evelyn Kain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 298, 299. “The late Roman Kunstwollen has in common with the Kunstwollen of all previous antiquity that it was still oriented toward the pure perception of the individual shape with its immediately evident material appearance, while modern art is less concerned with the sharp separation of the individual appearances and more with a connection of collective appearances, or especially with a demonstration of an independence of seemingly individual elements.” Alois Riegl, Late Roman Art Industry, trans. Rolf Winkes (Rome: Giorgio Bretschneider, 1985), 223. Ernst  K. Küchel, The Arabesque: Meaning and Transformation of an Ornament, trans. Richard Ettinghausen (Graz: Verlag für Sammler, 1976) is more accessible.

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Walter Pater’s “The School of Giorgione” (1877) develops a style of thinking that anticipates Matisse’s paintings. “In its primary aspect, a great picture has no more definite message for us than an accidental play of sunlight and shadow for a few moments on the wall or floor: is itself, in truth, a space of such fallen light, caught as the colours are in an Eastern carpet, but refined upon, and dealt with more subtly and exquisitely than by nature itself.”40 In this bold synecdoche, the aesthetic values associated with the carpet within Venetian paintings are effectively transferred to the entire picture. John Ruskin made a similar observation. In the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, in the entrance where the Carpaccios hang, “if you . . . look with a general glance . . . this warmth will resolve itself into a kind of chequering, as of an Eastern carpet.”41 Thanks to the influence of Pater and Ruskin (and other commentators presenting this way of thinking), artists like Matisse were prepared to borrow from Islamic decoration.42 Within Modernist tradition, Islamic carpets came to look like some European paintings.43 In Matisse’s art the all-over patterns of the depicted carpets are visually akin to the design of the entire painting. When Pater proposes that paintings be compared to Islamic carpets, he prophesies these paintings. But of course it would be an anachronism to project this way of thinking back onto the Renaissance. There is no reason to think that Islamic textiles heavily influenced Renaissance painters. European painting seems mostly to have worked out its concerns in a relatively self-sufficient way. There was, then, a pregnant moment when Matisse’s development of Western tradition brought him close to the decorative ideals of Islamic art. “The entire arrangement of my picture is expressive: the place occupied by the figures, the empty spaces around them, the proportions, everything has its share. Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the diverse elements at the painter’s command to express his feelings.”44 But few of his Western successors took up this concern. Some recent accounts do link Islamic art with abstract painting. One exhibition catalogue, for example, compares Modernist abstract paintings and Islamic 40. Walter Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry, ed. Donald L. Hill, (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980), 104. 41. John Ruskin, St. Mark’s Rest, in The Works of John Ruskin, M.A. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, n.d.), 96. 42. See Joseph Masheck, “The Carpet Paradigm: Critical Prolegomena to a Theory of Flatness,” Arts Magazine 51, no. 1 (1976): 82–109. 43. “Developments in the visual arts of the past hundred years or so have accustomed us to accept as suitable subject matter for paintings abstract designs and colour harmonies which might formerly have been found acceptable only in the decorative and applied arts.” John Mills, Carpets in Pictures (London: National Gallery, 1975), 55. 44. Jack D. Flam, Matisse on Art (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1978), 36.

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decorations.45 Annemarie Schimmel argues that “viewing an artwork . . . leads almost directly to the core of culture.”46 I do not believe that any art transparently expresses a worldview in this fashion. Since abstract paintings serve very different functions from Muslim decorations, these are pseudomorphisms. As Oleg Grabar notes, these Western painters did not actually study Islamic art or culture.47 (The decorative painter Philip Taaffe has, however, appropriated Islamic designs.)48 Abstraction is the product of a long Western development, which has little relationship to Islamic decoration. And that means that only limited relations between these cultures are possible. Today, as in the Renaissance, Islamic art remains essentially exotic. When traditions are far apart, how can we map their connections? Swann’s Way, the first volume of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, is so named because on its walks Marcel’s family encounters “two ‘ways’ . . . so diametrically opposed that we would actually leave the house by a different door according to the way we had chosen.”49 Marcel associates Swann’s way with his own prosperous middle-class family. The Guermantes’ way, by contrast, belongs to the grand aristocratic world, which “during the whole of my boyhood [was] as inaccessible as the horizon . . . a sort of abstract geographical term like the North Pole or the Equator or the Orient.”50 Only in the last volume, Time Regained, does Marcel discover that these two ways, which turn out not to be far apart, “were not as irreconcilable as I had supposed.”51 Many novels, almost all of them much shorter than Proust’s, adopt his basic narrative strategy, eventually bringing together places and people that initially seemed very distant. And after that happens, we learn how they were fated, so it seems, to meet. A world art history also tells such a story, explaining how distinct traditions ultimately became connected. A narrative links events or things one after another in a linear sequence. But when we have parallel time lines, how can events in places not in contact be presented in one story? For example, compare India, China, and the Islamic world in 45. Ornament and Abstraction: The Dialogue Between Non-Western, Modern and Contemporary Art, ed. Markus Brüderlin, exhibition catalogue (Basel: Fondation Beyeler, 2001). 46. Annemarie Schimmel, “The Arabesque and the Islamic View of the World,” in Brüderlin, Ornament and Abstraction, 35. 47. Oleg Grabar, “Islamic Ornament and Western Abstraction: Some Critical Remarks on an Elective Affinity,” in Brüderlin, Ornament and Abstraction, 72. 48. Oleg Grabar, preface to Philip Taaffe: Recent Paintings, April 9–May 14, 1994 (New York: Gagosian Gallery, 1994). 49. Proust, Within a Budding Grove, 146. 50. Ibid. 51. Ibid., 711.

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India Hostilities between Brahmanids and Vijayanagar cease China Two emperors: one held captive by the Mongolians, the other newly enthroned Europe Byzantium falls to the Turks Diagram 9  Events of ca. 1450

the mid-fifteenth century. In India in the late 1440s, direct hostilities between the Bahmanids and Vijayanagar ceased.52 In 1449, the Chinese emperor was captured by the Mongolians so that China thus had “two emperors—one in captivity, with his younger brother, newly enthroned in the capital.”53 And far to the west, in 1453 the Byzantine emperor died “defending his capital on its last day as a Christian city . . . the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmet II, entered the city, went straight to the cathedral and there set up his triumphal throne” (diagram 9).54 Because there is no connection between these events in China, India, and Islam, they cannot be presented in one linked narrative. These are three stories, not one. The historian of fifteenth-century India tells of the making of the Mughal empire; the historian of China, the story of the ongoing conflicts of Ming China with the Mongols; and the historian of Islam, how the Ottomans created their empire within Christian territories. Setting events in India or China or Islam on individual time lines maps the structure of these histories. In 1290, the Venetian Marco Polo came to India from China. A few decades earlier, the Moroccan historian Ibn Battuta had visited India. But on the whole, fifteenth-century China, Europe, and India were not yet connected. And so setting events from the three cultures on one time line shows only what happened in distant, as yet essentially unconnected places. Starting in 1522, everything changed, and soon enough all art made anywhere could be placed on one time line. But our concern is with the period before all cultures became connected. Multiculturalism thus poses a problem for historians and art historians, who need to represent events in cultures that are not connected. Michael Cook’s A Brief 52. Keay, India, 283. 53. Frederick W. Mote, Imperial China, 900–1800 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 628. 54. J. M. Roberts, A Short History of the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 177.

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History of the Human Race solves this problem by presenting in successive chapters narratives for Australia, the Americas, Africa, the Near East, India, China, the Mediterranean, and Western Europe.55 And two recent art history books deal with this problem. Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration, an exhibition catalogue, presents successive sections devoted to art from all cultures, just at the moment before they were connected. Soon, so the reader knows, the worlds of the Aztecs and Incas will be destroyed and the traditional art of China and India will be radically transformed. The Atlas of World Art, edited by John Onians, breaks the story into a sequence of smaller regional stories in chronological division, attempting to give equal space to every culture. A narrative can present everything happening everywhere at one date, and then move on to later times.56 On the computer you can switch very quickly from one text to another. And so our graph of world art history could readily be translated into four separate stories, which we could move between. The Internet, which makes it possible to present these multiple stories, is part and parcel of the technologies that link together distant cultures.57 Just as the older Eurocentric art histories are replaced by awareness of the multiple traditions, so older narrative strategies are being superseded by the novel Web technologies. We can superimpose diverse stories, without privileging any of them. This, after all, is what we all do every day when writing, reading e‑mails, listening to music, and consulting the Web on our PowerBooks. Our world is now drawn together by these ubiquitous technologies. Within a book, page 500 is far from page 10. But on a computer this distance effectively disappears.58 You can move quickly across one document and from one document to another. This completes our discussion of the facts of our world art history. We have sketched the four time lines displaying art from China, Europe, India, and the Islamic world. Now we need to ask how the art on those time lines is connected, 55. Michael Cook, A Brief History of the Human Race (New York: W. W. Norton, 2003), xii–xiii. 56. Craig Clunas’s Art in China (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997) employs such a structure. Successive chapters describe “Art in the Tomb,” “Art at Court,” “Art in the Temple,” “Art in the Life of the Élite,” and “Art in the Market-Place.” Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, and Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Art Since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2004) is a challenging model. The chapters are arranged chronologically, but there is no master narrative. 57. “The change from paper-based text to electronic text is one of those elementary shifts—like the change from manuscript to print—that is so revolutionary we can only glimpse at this point what it entails.” Jerome McGann, Radiant Textuality: Literature After the World Wide Web (New York : Palgrave, 2001), 70. 58. The stylistic experimentation of Jacques Derrida’s Glas, with its parallel columns of text, one devoted to Jean Genet, the other to Hegel, anticipates this technology.

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to understand the meaning of our graph of world art history, and, finally, to describe the political implications of our analysis. Chapter 5 explains why we need to interpret our graph, and Chapter 6 explains how to understand it. Then Chapters 7 and 8 consider self-critically the goals of this analysis. Chapter 9 reflects upon the political implications of these interpretations. And, finally, Chapter 10 steps back to link our discussion of world art history to broader moral concerns. “In the current climate of multiculturalism, postcolonial studies, pluralism, and relativism,” James Elkins writes, “it seems inadvisable to speak about everything with a single voice, no matter how carefully that voice is pitched.”59 Creating a world history of art is very difficult. But finding some way to understand all visual cultures is the most urgent task now facing art historians.



59. James Elkins, Stories of Art (New York: Routledge, 2002), 130.

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Charts and Works of Art

[In] the late Ming period . . . things were social actors, and texts about things were not untouched external observers of their action but further players in their own right. — c r a ig c lu nas

The London Underground map shows you how to get from one place to another. Simon Patterson’s The Great Bear (1996) (fig. 8) transforms this banal chart into a work of art, renaming the stations after actors, explorers, inventors, painters, philosophers, politicians, and saints.1 On the Underground, you go from Oxford Circus to Euston on the Victoria Line, and there change trains to get to Hampstead on the Northern Line. In The Great Bear, you depart from Titian on the Italian artists line and change at Zeppo to go north on the film actors line to Audrey Hepburn. The London Underground map represents relationships between real places. “Oxford Circus” is Oxford Circus. “All roads are reduced to straight lines; all angles to the two simplest: ninety degrees and forty-five degrees. The map leaves out and distorts a great deal, and because of this it is the best possible picture of what it wants to show.”2 By contrast, because Patterson’s map employs fictional place-names, every feature of his poetic transformation of the Underground map needs interpretation. One naturally asks the meaning of intersections with the lines devoted to explorers, philosophers, and saints. How a marked surface is employed may determine whether it is just a utilitarian chart (such as a map) or a work of art. An extremely prosperous cartographer could use a Jasper Johns map painting for planning vacations. Conversely, Patterson’s new labels transfigure a commonplace graph in a work of art. The 1. This paragraph draws on Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1976). See also James Elkins, On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). 2. Rudolf Arnheim, Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1969), 151, 153.

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Fig. 8  Simon Patterson, The Great Bear, 1992. Tate Gallery, London.

merging times lines of our world art history, showing how various traditions that developed mostly in isolation were connected soon after 1522, is in itself a chart. But let us treat it as a work of art, like the art it represents, and interpret it. I used to draw time lines to help my students compare and contrast the theories of Vasari and his successors. Because I took these to be merely didactic devices, I didn’t consider their aesthetic properties. I thought that like the diagrams used to teach Euclidean geometry, ultimately they were superfluous. But that was a mistake. No merely linear narrative will provide a proper representation of this graph. The problem, then, is how to translate this visual image of world art history into a written commentary. Very often, so I have argued, the proper unit of discourse is not the individual work of visual art but that object set in a historical narrative.3 Developing that argument, I draw an analogy between museum displays

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3. See my Writing About Visual Art (New York: Allworth, 2003), chaps. 4–5.

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and art history writing.4 Just as museum exhibitions have aesthetic features, so too do historical narratives. In a gallery we see the relationships between successive paintings, which can be described in an art historian’s account. On our time lines, works of art become mere items in a chart. But when we treat the chart as a work of art, then new visual features emerge. We see the relationships of traditions in a novel way when we interpret the lines themselves, the spaces between them, and their intersections. Let us begin with the concept of a tradition. How long would you like to live?5 Many people believe that death at any age, even in old age, always is an evil. And so they would like to live forever. Even if you eventually become old and infirm, they would argue, dying is worse because then you cease to exist. Leoš Janácek’s opera The Makropulos Case, which features a woman, Elina, who has lived hundreds of years, suggests a different argument.6 Someone who lived such a long time could travel, study philosophy, and read literature. Though these can be very engrossing tasks, none of them are endlessly interesting. After you have traveled, studied, and read for a long time, you have done everything. And then you are doomed to repeat yourself.7 Perhaps, then, endless life is not a good thing. During a very long life one could meet many famous artists. Imagine Elina being born in Florence in 1260. When young she befriends Cimabue; in middle age she moves to Rome to see Michelangelo when he is painting the Sistine ceiling; and in old age she goes to England and talks with Constable, telling him about her conversations with Cimabue and Michelangelo (diagram 10).8 4. See my Museum Skepticism: A History of the Display of Art in Public Galleries (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006). 5. See Bernard Williams, “The Makropulos Case: Reflections on the Tedium of Immortality,” in Problems of the Self: Philosophical Papers, 1956–1972 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), chap. 6. 6. My information about The Makropulos Case is drawn from John Tyrrell’s liner notes to the Sir Charles Mackerras recording with the Vienna Philharmonic, compact disc, Decca 430372 (recorded 1978; released 1991). According to Tyrrell, a better translation of the title is The Makropulos Secret. In the preface to his Memoirs, Chateaubriand writes: “I have met nearly all the men who in my time played a part . . . in my country or abroad: from Washington to Napoleon, from Louis  XVIII . . . to Gregory XVI, from Fox, Burke, Pitt . . . Mehemet Pasha of Egypt . . . and so forth.” Elina is like him. 7. Of course, you might forget what you had accomplished and enjoy repeating yourself. This analysis supposes that there are only a fixed number of works of art to see and books to read. But you might imagine enjoying an endless life studying contemporary art, literature, and philosophy. I imagine one person living on whilst everyone else has only a normal lifespan. But we could suppose that everyone lives forever. That would not change the basic situation, for again we may ask whether any form of social intercourse would be endlessly satisfying. 8. This is not a fully satisfactory response to Williams, for it doesn’t suggest why Elina would want to live forever. But no artistic tradition lasts forever.

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1550

1260

1820

Befriends Cimabue Sees Michelangelo painting Sistine ceiling Talks with Constable in England Diagram 10  Elina’s long life

Nietzsche saw “life as a work of art composed by each individual as it goes along in life.”9 Elina’s life permits her to know a major part of the story of art told by Gombrich. She knows many historically distant artists in the way that today older people remember World War II and very old people recollect World War I. Philosophers make a distinction, which will be useful here, between knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description.10 What you know directly, you know by acquaintance.11 What you learn only through books or other representations, you know by description.12 Knowledge by acquaintance has a privileged status because it is direct. I know by acquaintance the room in which I am writing. By contrast, my knowledge by description of Poussin’s life depends upon archival materials, which require delicate interpretation. Elina knows historically distant European painters by acquaintance, and so for her this tradition has a unity linked to her own life. Elina is imaginary, but she helps us understand art-history narratives linking a group of temporally distant figures. No one lived long enough to know Cimabue, Michelangelo, and Constable. But Cimabue knew artists whose descendants knew Michelangelo. And remote descendants of those painters, in turn, knew Constable. Elina is a useful fiction because she helps us understand the unity of a tradition. Temporally distant artists in one tradition are connected, because one longlived person can know by acquaintance every figure in that tradition. But no one who knew Cimabue also knew Wang Zhenpeng (1288–1329), his Chinese near-contemporary, for then there were few contacts between China and Italy. 9. Alexander Nehamas, Nietzsche: Life as Literature (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985), 253n20. 10. See Bertrand Russell, “On the Nature of Acquaintance,” in Logic and Knowledge: Essays 1901– 1950, ed. Robert Charles March (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1956). I apply this distinction to visual art in my Museum Skepticism, chap. 8. 11. You know your feelings and perceptions directly. 12. If you met Henri Matisse, then you know him through acquaintance. But no one alive today met Giotto, and so he is known only by description. There is a difference in kind between these two forms of knowledge. Someone who met Matisse knew him directly and so may feel that his biographers failed to understand him.

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And no friend of Michelangelo was acquainted with Akbar Nama, his great near-contemporary at the Mughal court. Elina could not also know these Chinese and Islamic artists. But the European, Chinese, and Indian traditions each have unity because we can imagine a long-lived Elina or her Chinese or Indian counterpart. How, then, do we understand an exotic tradition? Here the philosophers’ problem of other minds is suggestive. I step on a stone and feel pain. I see you step on a stone and, watching your grimace, conclude that you too feel pain. What could be more obvious than this basic distinction between my experience and yours? I feel my pain but must infer that you have a similar pain. Suppose that we own similar pens. I might, by mistake, take yours. But there is no analogous way in which I can confuse your pain with mine. Anytime I experience a pain, I know that it is mine. “No thought ever comes into direct sight of a thought in another personal consciousness than its own. Absolute isolation, irreducible pluralism, is the law. It seems as if the elementary psychic fact were not thought or this thought or that thought, but my thought, every thought being owned.”13 I am, of course, aware that you feel pain, but I cannot feel your pain. Some philosophers feel that this is a real distinction, but others believe that this analysis is fundamentally mistaken. Ludwig Wittgenstein and his successors claim to have deconstructed such ways of thinking.14 And cognitive science and psychoanalysis have certainly undermined this view of consciousness.15 But however philosophers resolve these debates, they need some way of making the distinction between my experience and yours. And so, for our parochial arthistorical purposes, the traditional analysis of other minds is suggestive. You, let us suppose, are an American Catholic. Viewing the Cimabues in Assisi and the Giottos in Florence, you find the church settings familiar. You understand the functions of altars and know the sacred stories illustrated in the frescoes. You also know, to extend this example in a natural way, in a direct way the tradition discussed by Vasari, Hegel, Gombrich, and Greenberg. By contrast, understanding Chinese, Indian, or Islam art requires study, for a Hindu temple 13. William James, The Principles of Psychology (1918; repr., New York: Dover, 1950), 226. I owe the idea of applying the problem of other minds to art history to Arthur Danto, “Historical Understanding: The Problem of Other Periods,” in Narration and Knowledge (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), chap. 12. 14. See Richard Rorty, “Skepticism About Other Minds,” in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), 107–14. 15. Once it was discovered that we are not aware of many everyday mental processes, then the dramatic distinction between the direct access we have to our minds and the merely indirect knowledge of other minds no longer seemed plausible.

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or Muslim mosque is an unfamiliar sort of place to you. And for you, Chinese scroll paintings are an acquired taste.16 If understanding your own tradition is like knowing your own mind, then viewing art in another tradition is like knowing someone else’s mind. There is a basic distinction between your direct, immediate relation to your own experience and the indirect, mediated way in which you know someone else’s. This contrast between your tradition and an exotic one is only based upon an analogy. It makes a sharp distinction between the European tradition you learned about from childhood and another visual culture, which you encounter only as an adult.17 But it is a useful analogy. Imagine, then, a bilingual Italian Chinese woman, Paola Ming. Her mother is Italian and her father Chinese. She spends alternate years in Italy and in China, and so knows both artistic traditions intimately. Is Ming a counterexample to our analysis? If the traditional philosophers’ analysis of the problem of other minds is correct, then no one can know directly both his or her own mind and someone else’s. But Ming knows directly the Italian and Chinese traditions. And so here our analogy between knowing another mind and knowing an exotic art tradition breaks down. Perhaps as yet there are very few Mings, but in the future there probably will be many. Ming internalizes but does not resolve the problem of knowing another tradition. For Ming the Italian woman, Chinese art is exotic; for Ming the Chinese woman, Italian art is exotic. And so when Ming becomes an art historian, this division reappears in her writings. When she writes about Chinese art in Italian, then, like any Westerner, she has to translate Chinese ways of thinking. For Ming, as for everyone else, these traditions are distinct. Let us take our analogy between art traditions and persons one step further. Elina is a relatively modest thought-experiment, for she is like a centenarian, but much older. Now, however, consider more dramatic experimental cases involving personal identity. What William James called the stream of consciousness identifies the way in which experiences are connected. I remember what happened to me when I was a boy because now I am still the same person. My experience thus is like a river, every part of which is connected to all its other parts. And like rivers, my experience has an origin and an ending. Sometime soon after birth, this stream started. When I die, my stream of consciousness will come to an end. Some rivers temporarily divide, the two streams later coming back 16. Exactly the same reasoning applies, of course, to a Chinese scholar. You need to learn a lot about Europe and its culture before you can comprehend European art. 17. Studying Vasari and Hegel in English-language editions is one thing, it could be argued, and reading Chinese art writers in English translation quite another.

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together. The stream of consciousness might, so we will imagine, also divide. Imagine, for example, that when taking a mathematics exam you know two ways of tackling a question. You divide your mind, perform both calculations, and then reunite your mind to compare results.18 This might be possible in the near future. If the mind is like a river that temporarily divides into left- and right-hand streams, suppose that your experience is of the right-hand stream.19 Then, at the moment of reunification, you suddenly come into contact with the experiences of the left-hand stream of consciousness and learn the results of the calculation performed by the left side of your mind. This would not be exactly like finding another person’s thoughts in your mind.20 The answer to this calculation might initially seem an alien thought, but you could know that it was yours, for you would remember setting out to find it. Personal identity matters because survival legitimately concerns us. Imagine that one person divides permanently, becoming two people who then have distinct streams of consciousness. Perhaps your brain is divided and one part is put in the body of someone else. Or maybe advanced neurology allows surgeons to put the contents of your brain into someone else’s, in the way that we move files from one computer to another. (We need not worry too much about the details so long as we can imagine this process.) After the operation, you awake in the hospital and see another patient (call her Martha) in the operating room (diagram 11). Henceforth that other person, who knows your memories and has your mental capacities, has separate experiences. You would directly know what happened to her before the operation, but not afterwards. Encountering Martha in a bar would be like meeting a stranger who had an oddly intimate knowledge of your life. Does the person who divides survive? Survival requires that I continue to exist. And so existing as two people might seem even better than being just one. For one thing, if I divide, then I can survive, at least partially, even if one of these persons perishes.21 Sometimes we attempt to console people who fear death by saying that their ideas will survive. Believing that you will have a posthumous 18. Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 247. 19. Why, it might be asked, is your experience of the right-hand stream? Why not the left side? The difficulty, it seems, is that it is hard to imagine knowing both sides simultaneously. But perhaps that would be like first watching one television show and then seeing two shows simultaneously on a divided screen. 20. Psychologists have discovered that some patients have similar experiences. When the support between the two brain hemispheres is cut, then it is as if there are two people in one body. 21. The surgeon hopes that both you and Martha survive the operation. But your heart gives out during the transplant. And so you survive only insofar as your memories and skills survive in Martha’s body. After the transplant, you recall your former body and see that corpse looking through Martha’s eyes.

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David Carrier

Martha Diagram 11  Merging

reputation may be little consolation. Division, however, promises more. A person who divides is like a river that permanently separates into two branches. Surely a river can continue to exist when in two independent channels. And so why should the same not be true of a person? If you die soon after the operation, it might be some consolation to know that Martha will remember your childhood. You survive, in part, in or within Martha’s body. Consider, conversely, what happens when people merge so that their two streams of consciousness become one. One person would have the memories and personal qualities previously associated with two independent people. Your body is fatally cancerous, and so part of your brain, with your memories and mental capacities, is inserted into Martha’s body. Thanks to this surgery, you have merged with Martha. This example differs dramatically from the division of persons we just considered. Before the operation, the two of you have entirely distinct lives and mental qualities. You and Martha were two different people. Now, however, the two of you are one. Henceforth your memories and hers coexist in one body, and this person has experiences.22 Do both people survive? That question is hard to answer. Your memories survive, but your personality is diluted and someone else’s memories are also present in your mind.23 If survival requires that you retain just your memories and traits, and no others, then you have not survived. If you speak Italian and she speaks German, the merged person will speak both German and Italian. If you remember Milan and she remembers St. Louis, then the merged person will remember both cities. That initially will seem very strange, for you did not know German and have never been to St. Louis.24 But 22. “Suppose . . . that I love Wagner, and always vote for a Socialist. The other person hates Wagner, and always votes for a Conservative. The one resulting person will be a tone-deaf floating voter.” Parfit, Reasons and Persons, 298. 23. Philosophers have debated whether thought experiments are coherent. My view is that such thought experiments are useful because they help us understand our concept of personal identity. 24. Today the only way to learn German is to grow up speaking German or to study that language. Suppose, however, that the surgeon inserts the contents of a floppy disc into your brain, and then you have the knowledge of a native speaker. Does that thought experiment make it easier to imagine this merging with Martha?

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consider again our analogy with rivers. A river survives when it merges with another, for there is a continuous path running back to the starting point of the river. Similarly, you survive, at least in part, if you merge with another person. After merging, you retain your memories and traits. You have survived, and so too has Martha.25 These thought experiments are extremely controversial. Some philosophers find them very suggestive, while others believe that only experimental evidence counts. After advances in brain surgery, we need to revise our commonsense ways of thinking about personal identity. But it may be, critics have noted, impossible to perform brain transplants. If so, perhaps these thought experiments come to nothing. The philosopher of mind must resolve that dilemma, but the art historian who seeks to understand the world art history perhaps does not. In our multicultural art history, diverse traditions really do come together. Just as the experiences of previously separate people could be united in one ongoing stream of consciousness, so in our world art history the traditions of China, Europe, India, and Islam merge. And so we use these analogies from philosophy of mind to understand this diagram. We use thought experiments to understand the real multicultural art history. Doing that is like reading Henry James to better understand our friends, his fictional tales helping us comprehend real people. Imagine Ching, a very long-lived person who knew the great Chinese, European, Indian, and Islamic artists. No one long-lived person like us could do this, but someone who was the product of mergings could (diagram 12). Ching can remember what happened in Hangchow, Florence, Baghdad, and Bijapur in 1420, even though those cities were not in contact at that date. She can do this because she merged with Elina, with Khadija, a long-lived Muslim, and with Pradeep, a long-lived Indian. Khadija and Pradeep know their traditions in the way that Elina knows European tradition. One person would have the memories of Ching and her Italian, Islamic, and Indian sisters. No one person can be in two different places at the same time. But just as the thought experiment using the very long-lived person extends our concept of personal identity in one way, so this account of merging extends it in another. After Ching, Elina, Khadija, and Pradeep merge, then one person would have memories of distant places that were not in contact. When you merge with Martha, the person created knows 25. If imagining two people inhabiting one body is troublesome, then suppose that your body and the right side of Martha’s brain have been damaged and that the surgeon puts the right half of your brain into her skull. After the operation, you see your decayed body on the operating table. You survive, in part, in Martha’s body. Suppose that you are a young man and Martha is a old woman. You have changed sex and aged.

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1420 Ching Hangchow Elina Florence Khadija Baghdad Bijapur Pradeep Diagram 12  Ching’s life

by acquaintance both Milan, where you grew up, and St. Louis, a city you have never visited. Ching, analogously, knows Hangchow, Florence, Baghdad, and Bijapur ca. 1420. Although Ching herself lived only in Hangchow, thanks to her merging with Elina, Khadija, and Pradeep, she is acquainted also with Florence, Baghdad, and Bijapur. Ching could know all of the artists whose works of art are shown in our graph. In his discussion of pictorial metaphor, Richard Wollheim draws an analogy with more familiar linguistic metaphors. “The aim both of linguistic and of pictorial metaphor is to set what is metaphorized in a new light.”26 When, for example, we say, “Death is the mother of beauty,” that phrase encourages us to think of death in a new way.27 Wollheim focuses on ways in which “the painting becomes a metaphor for the body, or (at any rate) for some part of the body, or for something assimilated to the body.”28 He considers how Thomas Jones’s buildings are surrogate body images and how the playful use of paint in the late paintings by Willem de Kooning fills the pictures “with infantile experiences of sucking, touching, biting, excreting, retaining, smearing, sniffing, swallowing, gurgling, stroking, wetting.”29 Just as linguistic metaphors extend the capacity 26. Richard Wollheim, Painting as an Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 307. 27. See Mark Turner, Death Is the Mother of Beauty: Mind, Metaphor, Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987). 28. Wollheim, Painting as an Art, 310. 29. Ibid., 348.

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of language to communicate, so visual metaphors enlarge the power of pictures. Here, then, we adapt Wollheim’s way of thinking, drawing analogies between time lines and a life, linking the parallel time lines with other minds, and interpreting the merging of time lines. We interpret our diagram of a world art history as a visual metaphor, using the thought experiments of philosophy of mind to make a world art history more comprehensible. Works of art can function as time machines, so I have argued elsewhere, by allowing us to imaginatively travel to see what they depict.30 We can, for example, see in paintings Old Testament scenes or events of Roman history. The representations of these events imaginatively extend our lives. Seeing the scenes depicted, we imagine being old enough to have viewed these places long ago. Now, extending this argument in a natural way, consider someone who lives long enough to know entire artistic traditions. Fascination with time travel to the past is easy to understand. Philosophers could hear Socrates. Historians could watch Alexander the Great invade Persia. And art historians could enjoy studio visits with Apelles, Poussin, and Gordon Matta-Clark. By contrast, the desire to experience simultaneous events in distant places seems puzzling. Until distant cultures were in contact, it would have been hard for anyone even to conceive of this fantasy. How could Giotto have wanted to meet his contemporaries in China and India, artists working in places he knew almost nothing about? Only after our diagram of the merging time lines of world art history had been constructed would this have been a possible fantasy. Anachronistically, we imagine Ching introducing artists in Hangchow to their peers in Florence, Baghdad, and Bijapur. As set out, our diagram of the merging time lines may seem a strange academic device lacking psychological reality.31 But there is more to the story. Just as a person is young, then mature, and finally, in the natural course of things, old, so a tradition involves an origin, a development, and an ending. And as, in a life, memory and personal character link experiences over time, so also in an artistic tradition there is significant sharing. A tradition, we might say, is an artificial person. Some philosophers think persons are spiritual substances, others that they are material substances, while still others, Derek Parfit for example, reject both of these claims. “The identity of persons over time is, in its fundamental features, like the identity of nations over time. Both consist in nothing 30. See my Museum Skepticism, chap. 3. 31. The wall of tv sets in an appliance store allows you to see all at once a football game, a sitcom, and cnn. Knowing distinct art traditions would be like viewing Hangchow, Florence, Bijapur, and Baghdad in 1420, simultaneously.

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more than the holding over time of various connections, some of which are matters of degree.”32 Parfit’s analysis is highly controversial, and so this debate is contentious. And important, for how we understand judicial punishments and judge abortion and mercy-killing depends upon our view of personal identity.33 What follows, Parfit plausibly argues, is that how we understand personal identity will affect how we think about morality. By contrast, the view that nations have a merely conventional identity is relatively uncontroversial. Like persons, countries are born, develop, and die. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy gradually emerged, becoming a nation only late in the nineteenth century. Venice, born in the eighth century, died when invaded by Napoleon’s troops.34 India, with borders defined in the eighteenth century by English imperialism, after independence came apart into India and Pakistan. Lithuania, absorbed into the USSR, was reborn in 1991. But the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist soon after the end of the Great War. Will I survive my physical death? Is a month-old embryo or someone who for decades has experienced no brain activity alive? Such questions about personal identity seem to be questions about matters of fact. Either the embryo is a person or just a mass of living tissue; even the brain-dead man is a person, or merely a corpse in a body. By contrast, most people think that the identities of Venice, Italy, India, Lithuania, and the Ottoman Empire depend upon conventions. Whether Venice died or is still alive, awaiting rebirth at the hands of Northern Italian nationalists, although an important political issue, is not a philosophically interesting question. Nations seem to have a weaker sort of identity than persons. Italy’s identity is defined by language and religion, and also by shared customs and history. The identities of India, Lithuania and the Ottoman Empire are more difficult to define, for those nations possessed many languages and several religions.35 Artistic traditions are more like nations than persons. When using Indian Art as the title of his volume in the Oxford History of Art, Partha Mitter writes, “I wish to remind readers of the shared culture of the subcontinent in which 32. Parfit, Reasons and Persons, 316. 33. “We are not separately existing entities, apart from our brains and bodies, and various interrelated physical and mental events. Our existence just involves the existence of our brains and bodies, and the doing of our deeds, and the thinking of our thoughts, and the occurrence of certain other physical and mental events.” Ibid., 216. 34. Recently nationalists have tried and failed to revive Venice. But Lithuania, after being part of the USSR, regained its independence in 1991. Unlike persons, countries can be reborn. 35. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983), 16.

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Islam has played a major role. This shared culture has a historical validity that transcends modern national boundaries.”36 And in his volume on Chinese art in the same series, Craig Clunas notes that before the nineteenth century “no one in China” would have seen the textiles, calligraphy, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, and other works of art reproduced in his book “as constituting part of the same field of enquiry.”37 China, he observes, is physically immense and has varied “social and religious ideas” that have changed radically over time. Just as the art in Mitter’s book is distinctively Indian, so the body of art made in China illustrated in Clunas’s book has a unity. No one would confuse many of the works of art illustrated in Indian Art or Art in China with the art made in Europe or the Islamic world.38 And so we can legitimately speak of these as distinct artistic traditions and chart what happens when they converge with the time line presenting the story of Western art.



36. Partha Mitter, Indian Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 7. 37. Craig Clunas, Art in China (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 9. 38. Some Chinese Buddhist sculptures do, however, look rather like works of art made in India.

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The Importance of an Aesthetic

Let us suppose that the idea of art can be expanded to embrace the whole range of manmade things, including all tools and writing in addition to the useless, beautiful, and poetic things of the world. By this view the universe of man-made things simply coincides with the history of art. — g eo r g e k u ble r

Although the examples in Arthur Danto’s Analytic Philosophy of History are drawn from Europe’s history, his analysis applies to all cultures. India was colonized by Muslims and then by Europeans. China, unlike India, was for a time ruled by Marxists. Islam, unlike either China or India, is at war with Europe and America, now as during the Renaissance. China, Europe, America, India, and the Islamic world have very different histories. But the stories of all of these cultures can be told using the same tools. Danto’s central concept, the narrative sentence, links events. Recently Tim Clark and other leftists have sought to explain the struggles between Muslims and the West. “We start from the premise that certain concepts and descriptions put forward forty years ago by Guy Debord and the Situationist International . . . still possess explanatory power— more so than ever, we suspect, in the poisonous epoch we are living through.”1 Here we find the narrative sentence: Guy Debord’s 1960s book tells us how to understand 9/11. Whether you are a follower of the Situationist International or a Muslim fundamentalist, you need narrative sentences to write history. Consider, for example, the reasoning employed when a historian of India notes: “Also in 571, but across the Arabian Sea and in obscure circumstances, the wife of an impoverished merchant of the Quraysh tribe gave birth to a son. . . . To him, forty years 1. Iaian Boal, T. J. Clark, Joseph Matthews, and Michael Watts, Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War (London: Verso, 2005), 17.

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later and now known as Muhammad, the divine word would be revealed. . . . But it would be over a century before the Prophet’s followers made any impact in India.”2 The prophet whose followers would create the Mughal Empire was born in 571. That narrative sentence describes 571 from the perspective of Indian historians. Chinese historians adopt a similar strategy. In 1565 a junior official, Hai Rui, who criticized the emperor was sent to prison, almost died under judicial torture, but finally was restored to his office. “Hai Rui became nationally famous again in the 1960s, when the Ming historian Wu Han wrote essays and a play about him. They were at first enthusiastically received but later censored as an indirect attack on Mao Zedong.”3 In 1565 the man whose career was the basis for Wu Han’s critique of Mao went to prison. That narrative sentence describes 1565 from the perspective of later Chinese history. Art historians also think in these Dantoesque terms. Around 845 Chang Yen-yüan described his era. “In the High Antiquity of painting, workmanship was summary while the themes were at once tranquil and noble. . . . In recent times paintings have been a blaze of splendor, with completeness as their goal.”4 Chang’s trouble, we now know, was that “he lived in an awkward interregnum, a century past one great age and a century too soon for the next.” To translate this claim into a narrative sentence, Chang Yen-yüan lived a century before the golden age for Chinese painting. Similar narratives describe Indian art. Akbarnamas, the paintings inspired by the Mughal emperor Akbar,5 “were official state documents meant to dazzle with their splendour, and to create, uphold, and reinforce tradition. Other works, made for private imperial appreciation, therefore introduce more clearly and easily the new concerns that will dominate Mughal painting during the first three decades of the seventeenth century.” This account too employs a narrative sentence: In the late 1500s, the concerns of Mughal art 1600–1630 were developed. In the sixteenth century, Dush Mohammed described the time of the Ilkhanids (1290–1340) as the era “that invented Persian painting, and he associated this invention with the reign of Abu Sa’id and the talent of Ahmad Musa.”6 Here again we find a narrative sentence. 2. John Keay, India: A History (London: HarperCollins, 2000), 157–58. 3. Frederick W. Mote, Imperial China, 900–1800 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 672. 4. Alexander C. Soper, “The Relationship of Early Chinese Painting to Its Own Past,” in Artists and Traditions: Uses of the Past in Chinese Culture, ed. Christian F. Murck (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), 28–29. 5. Milo Cleveland Beach, Mughal and Rajput Painting, The New Cambridge History of India 1:3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 68. 6. Oleg Grabar, Mostly Miniatures: An Introduction to Persian Painting (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 42.

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The Chinese, Indians, Muslims, and Western Christians understand God, the roles of women, and much else in very distinct ways. But historians can reconstruct their actions. Given the beliefs of the actors, without ourselves necessarily sharing their ways of thinking, we can understand why they acted as they did. With visual culture the situation is somewhat different. European, Chinese, Indian, and Islamic works of art are on our time lines. But their presence within these diagrams does not explain how these objects are connected. To go from a mere annal, a listing of works of art, to a proper history, we need to understand how European, Chinese, Indian, and Islamic artists modified inherited traditions. Recall our earlier contrast between accounts that treat the story of art as an internal development and those that construct an external or sociological perspective. Our map of world art history doesn’t show us how to interpret it. To relate the successive works of art on our various time lines, we need an aesthetic, an account of how successive artists understood what they were doing. Here our pregnant analogy between a tradition and the life of a long-lived person breaks down. Elina can remember all major European art. But since no one person knows all of the European, Chinese, Indian, and Islamic art on our time lines, we need to explain how these artifacts are connected. Merely noting that they are made within these cultures does not suffice to explain how to narrate histories. What links together works of art in a tradition is a shared aesthetic. Often artists developed an aesthetic. When Leonardo said that “the part of the body should be arranged with gratia, with a view to the effect you want the figure to make,” or when Wu T’aisu explained that “in the play with brush and ink by scholar-officials, excellence consists of the meaning . . . not in the attempt to capture formal likeness,” then they employed aesthetics.7 And when Dost Muhammed justified “the existence of visual art” by arguing that “the divine creation as a whole is a representation of reality, concealing the true reality, which is in God” and Henri Matisse wrote, “the simplest means are those which best enable an artist to express himself,” then they, too, presented aesthetics.8 Some ecumenically minded religious thinkers assert that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all worship the same god. Analogously, some formalists and the gestalt psychologist Rudolf Arnheim assert that when described in a sufficiently 7. Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 130; Susan Bush and Hsio-yen Shih, eds., Early Chinese Texts on Painting (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985), 286. 8. Grabar, Mostly Miniatures, 24; Jack D. Flam, Matisse on Art (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1978), 39. On Islamic art writing see Anthony Welch, Artists for the Shah: Late Sixteenth-Century Painting at the Imperial Court of Iran (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976).

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abstract way, all art shares universal qualities. In Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection, for example, Christ “is located at the center of the picture, and his position is strictly frontal—that is, symmetrical. . . . The resurrection is not interpreted materially as a transition from death to life. . . . Piero’s picture sets the unrest of temporal material life in opposition to the monumental serenity of Christ, who, as the top of the pyramid, rules between life and death.”9 Sometimes this view is defended with reference to biology. All human beings belong to the same species, and so, it is argued, we all can understand the art made by people from any culture.10 Were that correct, then we would only need one aesthetic. Richard Wollheim’s definition identifies all art from everywhere. For our present purposes, however, we need to understand how these works of art on our four time lines are connected. How is it that individual artists in these varied cultures inherit and modify artistic traditions? Making art is an intentional activity.11 The difficulty, then, comes in articulating the artist’s intentions in a plausible way. When artists describe their paintings, we can match what they say with our visual experience.12 Following Wollheim, we may claim that our visually sensitive interpretations describe older European works of art as the artist would, if only he had our vocabulary.13 But when we bring our contemporary perspectives to the traditional paintings and sculptures of China, India, and Islam, we immediately become aware of the enormous gap between the concerns of these artists and ours. At this point, massive differences between our concerns and those of historians become very important. Logically speaking, our epigraph from George Kubler is absolutely correct. The history of our world is the story of all manmade things. And the task of scholars describing trade is to trace the exchanges of these artifacts. But works of art are special sorts of things, which very often can only be understood by knowing the artist’s aesthetic. What, then, justifies focusing prolonged attention on a special subclass of things, works of art, is their 9. Rudolf Arnheim, Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1969), 418–20. Compare Michael Baxandall, Words for Pictures: Seven Papers on Renaissance Art and Criticism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), chap. 7. 10. To understand Chinese scroll paintings, which often contain poems, you need to know Chinese; to comprehend Indian sculptures, you need to understand Buddhist and Hindu theology. The universality of a shared biological heritage is overruled by these cultural differences. 11. “For whatever else he may intend, or whatever may be his intentions in doing what he does, the greater number of the things which you would say straight off a man did or was doing, will be things he intends.” G. E. M. Anscombe, Intention (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1966), 8. 12. Even within seventeenth-century Europe, that is not always possible. Poussin and his interpreters were loquacious, but Rembrandt and his intimate friends were not. See Nicolas Poussin, Lettere sull’arte, ed. David Carrier (Cernusco Lombardone: Hestia, 1995). 13. Wollheim argues that his psychoanalytic account of Poussin tells what the artist intended. See Richard Wollheim, Painting as an Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), chap. 4.

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link with aesthetic theory. In the fourteenth century, the spice trade was the most important export industry of Europe.14 When Europeans imported silk from China, spices from the Far East, or gold from America, they didn’t need to know these cultures, for the practical uses of silk, spices, and gold were selfevident. The Europeans who brought home spices from India didn’t understand Indian culture. All that trade requires is that people have something valued for exchange. Commerce in visual art usually is more complicated. In Wollheim’s title, Art and Its Objects, the word “art” alludes to “some theory of art.” If you don’t know a culture’s aesthetic theory, then you can only see mere objects, the physical works of art. Our diagram of the four great high art traditions provides only limited information about history proper. It tells when the time lines converge, but it doesn’t explain how that happened, or how to evaluate the consequences. Wollheim’s definition draws upon examples drawn exclusively from Western art, but claims to be absolutely general. His working assumption is that close scrutiny of European art supports the construction of a universal aesthetic. After working through discussion of the representational and expressive qualities of individual works of art, Wollheim allows “that our initial hope of eliciting a definition of art, or of a work of art was excessive.”15 Many commonplace representations are not works of art. Passport photos and television advertisements, for example, are not works of art. Nor is everything expressive a work of art. Exuberant Italian hand gestures and gorgeous Istanbul sunsets are not art. Only some expressive representations are works of art. Defining art, Wollheim suggests, requires historical analysis. “We should, first, pick out certain objects as original or primary works of art; and . . . then set up some rules which, successively applied to the original works of art, will give us . . . all subsequent or derivative works of art.”16 If we identify the original works of art, then we can derive from them all other later art. In his fine phrase: “Art is essentially historical.”17 And so in order to pick out those representations and expressive things that are works of art, we need a historical analysis. We might start with a Renaissance painting, for example, and then derive more recent works of art. In Velázquez’s Surrender of Breda, Heinrich Wölfflin explains, the “handing over of the fortress keys with the meeting of the two main figures in profile, is in principle nothing else than is contained in the handing over of ecclesiastical keys or Christ and St. Peter in [Raphael’s] Feed my 14. Ronald Watkins, Unknown Seas: How Vasco da Gama Opened the West (London: John Murray, 2003), 38. 15. Richard Wollheim, Art and Its Objects (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 143. 16. Ibid., 143. 17. Ibid., 151.

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Lambs.”18 Once we have thus understood how Velázquez leads to Raphael, we can in further easy stages trace the history of more recent European art. We can, for example, link Cubism and Abstract Expressionism. “Pollock’s 1946–1950 manner really took up Analytical Cubism from the point at which Picasso and Braque had left it when, in their collages of 1912 and 1913, they drew back from the utter abstractness for which Analytical Cubism seemed headed.”19 One need not be a formalist to find Clement Greenberg’s genealogy extremely seductive. Art and Its Objects begins by defining art using two key concepts, representation and expression. Traditional works of art, from Europe as from China and India, are expressive representations. But when Wollheim admits that the definition of art needs, rather, to focus on history, he moves in a very different direction.20 Let us start, for example, with Giotto and, with Vasari’s aid, apply rules to derive the paintings of Masaccio, Piero, and Raphael. Now we are concerned not with the very general concepts of representation and expression, but with this single tradition. Wollheim offers a completely general aesthetic, applicable to all cultures, because he secularizes Western art. Before the late eighteenth century, most important European art, like much art of China, India, and Islam, served religious goals. If it is detached from its roots in religious life, we may be tempted to think this Western painting and sculpture shares universal features. But if we focus on the differences in the religions of China, Europe, India, and Islam, then we are less likely to seek a general aesthetic.21 Let us modify Wollheim’s aesthetic to suit the goals of our world art history. Like European art, art from other traditions can be understood historically. Knowing, for example, that Li Kung’lin (1040–1106) imitated T’ang masters such as Wu Tao Tzu, we can construct a diagram of Chinese elite painting.22 Li 18. Heinrich Wölfflin, Principles of Art History: The Problem of the Development of Style in Later Art, trans. M. D. Hottinger (New York: Dover, n.d.), 80. 19. Clement Greenberg, Art and Culture: Critical Essays (Boston: Beacon Press, 1961), 218. 20. Wollheim’s appeal to a grammar of language, drawing on Noam Chomsky’s writings, takes discussion in another direction. Chomsky explains how native speakers know the rules permitting them to identify grammatical sentences; the art historian seeks to understand the historical transformations of art. Synchronic analysis of language is not easy to match with the diachronic art history. Every native speaker implicitly knows the grammar, but only properly informed viewers can set the paintings in proper historical sequence. 21. My argument draws on Malcolm Bull, “Philistinism and Fetishism,” Art History 17, no.  1 (1994): 127–31. So far as I know, Wollheim never considered this problem. In Europe, most traditional art was made to serve religious functions. But in a modern secular culture, these older works of art can be detached from their original goals and seen aesthetically. But it is important to recognize the overlap between our ways of seeing older works of art and how they were viewed in their original cultures. Otherwise we will treat this art as if it were found art, like driftwood or Chinese scholar stones. 22. James Cahill, Treasures of Asia: Chinese Painting (Lausanne: Skira, 1960), 92.

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Kung’lin has little to do with Giotto, Masaccio, Piero, and Raphael; he belongs, rather, to a wholly parallel Chinese tradition. The frequent concern of painters in China to rework earlier pictures makes them perfect models of Wollheim’s way of defining art. Like an old-master European oil painting, a tenth-century ceramic plate made in Persia has figurative elements.23 And, like European Renaissance sculpture, a dancing eleventh-century bronze from India is expressive. “Shiva . . . dances within a flaming mandorla, symbolizing the energy of the sun; in the dance he tramples on the dwarf demon Muyalaka, who represents ignorance. . . . There is a reassuring serenity radiating from the countenance of this divine image that shines within the orb of the sun.”24 If we start with these objects, we can derive from them more recent Islamic and Indian works of art. Wollheim’s procedure supplies definitions of European, Chinese, Indian, and Islamic art, not a general definition of art as such. Thanks to Vasari, Hegel, Gombrich, and Greenberg, we understand how to tell the story of European art. But when we get to other cultures our task becomes more difficult. There are, of course, very many books that, just judging by their titles, promise histories of art in China, India, or the Islamic world. When you look within, you do find narratives in which sequences of artifacts are presented in historical orderings. For example, after describing early bronzes and jades, William Watson’s The Arts of China to ad 900 tells the story of early Buddhist sculpture and painting in China.25 Stella Kramrisch’s The Art of India offers a survey that looks like comparable accounts of European art.26 And, as its title announces, Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom’s The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250–1800 traces the development of Islamic art.27 By focusing on landscape paintings, we may be able to tell the history of art in China in terms like those of Gombrich’s Story of Art, as a story of progress in illusionism.28 But when we get to India and Islam, no equivalent narratives can be 23. “The princely cycle occurs occasionally on northestern Iranian ceramics . . . but its hunting princes or feasting personages are strongly caricaturized . . . in ways that suggest a general awareness of princely themes but little experience in treating them.” Oleg Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), 183. 24. Stanislaw  J. Czuma, “Nataraja: Siva as King of Dance,” in Interpretations: Sixty-Five Works from the Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 1991), 50. 25. William Watson, The Arts of China to ad 900 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995). 26. Stella Kramrisch, The Art of India: Traditions of Indian Sculpture, Painting, and Architecture (London: Phaidon, 1954). 27. Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom, The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250–1800 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994). 28. See my “Meditations on a Scroll, or the Roots of Chinese Artistic Form,” Word and Image 18, no. 1 (2002): 45–52.

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found. Fragments of histories appear. We learn, for example, that in early Indian sculpture the Buddha was never represented as a man, but that soon enough he was presented in these anthropomorphic terms.29 But the whole story of art in India—first of Buddhist sculpture, then of Hindu painting and sculpture, and later the introduction of Islam and Christianity into India—cannot really be told in Gombrichian terms. In the introduction to his history of Islamic art, David Talbot Rice says that he aims “to present the works first according to their period and second according to their geographical provenance, in order to illustrate both the developments that took place over the ages and the variations for which the different regions were responsible.”30 That makes his book sound like a typical history of European art. But neither Rice’s account nor the other surveys provides any equivalent to the canonical accounts of Western painting. According to Dush Humanned, there were “a succession of [Persian] painters formed one by another.”31 But modern historians have difficulty reconstructing that analysis, perhaps because so much of this manuscript painting was destroyed.32 In India and Islam, as in Europe, artists inherit and develop a tradition. But whether because too much of the art of India and Islam has been destroyed, or because these cultures had ways of thinking about tradition quite unlike those of Europe, setting the objects in temporal sequences does not yield anything like a history. “It is not through works of art or monuments but through the unfolding of certain political or other events that the very possibility of an Islamic art can be raised.”33 To understand what Oleg Grabar calls the formation of Islamic art, we need to understand how that culture modified an inherited visual culture. Art in India and the Islamic world certainly has histories, but its development probably cannot be understood in Wollheim’s terms. Let us look, then, to another philosopher for guidance. Arthur Danto, Wollheim’s very-near-contemporary, lays out a suggestive definition.34 “To be a work of art is to be (i) about something and (ii) to embody 29. Partha Mitter, Indian Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 19. See also Vidya Dehejia, Indian Art (London: Phaidon, 1997), 54. 30. David Talbot Rice, Islamic Art (London: Thames and Hudson, 1965), 7. 31. Grabar, Mostly Miniatures, 49. The claim that Dust Muhammad is the Islamic Vasari is discussed in David J. Roxburgh, Prefacing the Image: The Writing of Art History in Sixteenth-Century Iran (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2001), 12–14. 32. It seems “a mistake to think of the history of Islamic art as a solid body of knowledge. It is better to picture it as a net—that is, a lot of holes tied together by string.” Robert Irwin, Islamic Art in Context: Art, Architecture, and the Literary World (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1997), 242. 33. Oleg Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), 15. 34. On their differences see Richard Wollheim, “Danto’s Gallery of Indiscernibles,” in Danto and His Critics, ed. Mark Rollins (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1993).

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its meaning.”35 Essentialists describe the timeless nature of art; historicists show how our most basic ways of thinking have changed. And so some people think that there is a conflict between these positions. But they are mistaken, for Danto is both an essentialist and a historicist. Thanks to Warhol and some other 1960s artists, so he argues, we know the nature of art. From Plato to Hegel, earlier essentialists misidentified its essence because they did not know the right examples. Some philosophers thought that works of art had to be representations. But abstract paintings were counterexamples to that definition. Other philosophers thought that works of art had to be expressive. But sculptures that were not expressive were counterexamples to that definition. Because the story of art has ended, we can identify its essence.36 Danto’s view seems counterintuitive because it combines the historicist’s concern with change with an essentialist definition.37 In the twentieth century many radically original forms of art were created. When art was changing so quickly and radically, it was natural to think that it had no essence. Defining art seemed a matter of convention. Danto disagrees. Much recent art, he allows, could not have been seen as art by earlier artists. Rodin would not have understood Andy Warhol’s sculpture Brillo Box. And Giacometti would have found Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty incomprehensible.38 Like Wollheim, Danto claims that his definition of art is general. When he discusses Chinese art, for example, Danto says: “Universal works do not tell us about the Chinese, so much as they tell us about ourselves as sharing in the same humanity the Chinese themselves possess.” Art, like philosophy, aspires to universality. “Philosophy’s task is to say something true and essentially true of artworks as a class, however stylistically they may vary.”39 A multicultural art history requires understanding diverse traditions. But unlike Wollheim, Danto does not develop a historical analysis in which later works of art are derived from earlier ones. Visual art in all cultures may, to speak in his Hegelian idiom, be about something and embody its meaning. For example, Indian and Islamic 35. Arthur C. Danto, After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 197. 36. See my “Indiscernibles and the Essence of Art: The Hegelian Turn in Arthur Danto’s Aesthetic Theory,” in The Philosophy of Arthur Danto, Library of Living Philosophers (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court Press, forthcoming). 37. See my “Gombrich and Danto on Defining Art,” Journal. of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54, no. 3 (1996): 279–81 which is effectively critiqued in Danto, After the End of Art, 193–95. 38. Although a work of art is created within a cultural tradition, it “transcends that moment because the meaning is universal and grasped as such by audiences in all subsequent times and in all other cultures.” Arthur C. Danto, “Responses and Replies,” in Rollins, Danto and His Critics, 201. 39. Ibid., 206.

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works of art could be defined by their capacity to be about and embody the doctrines of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. “The overall effect of Hindu art,” a historian of religion writes, “is to convey in the economy of an image, gesture, or poetic phrase the often subtle, complex, and sublime truths of Hindu visionaries . . . [and the] concretization of divine models, the presentation in tangible form of ideal worlds to which Hindus strive to journey.”40 To understand an artistic tradition, we need to study its supporting culture.41 Danto’s way of thinking derives from Hegel, who claims that a culture expresses its worldview in its art. In his account of the Dutch golden age, Hegel explains how these burghers wish to enjoy “once again in every possible situation the neatness of its cities, houses, and furnishings, as well as its domestic peace, its wealth, the respectable dress of wives and children, the brilliance of its civil and political festivals, the boldness of its seamen, the fame of its commerce and the ships that ride the oceans of the world.”42 His evocative prose (he mentions no Dutch painter by name) gives a good characterization of the Dutch rooms of any major museum. Given that “the study of art and its history has been determined by the art of Italy and its study,” as a contemporary scholar writes, in what ways can the distinctive qualities of Dutch painting be identified?43 Modern scholarship has not left these Hegelian ways of thinking entirely behind. Hegel’s theory of cultural expression can be adapted to non-European art. When Ernest Fenollosa went to Japan in the late nineteenth century and developed a pioneering account of Asian art, he employed an explicitly Hegelian methodology.44 Ironically, Hegel’s Eurocentric aesthetic provides one of the best ways of understanding art made outside Europe. If a culture makes art and has a distinctive worldview, then we can understand that art by treating it as an expression of their ways of living and thinking. Just as Hegel’s Hollanders love everyday scenes of prosperity because they are Protestant merchants, 40. David  R. Kinsley, Hinduism: A Cultural Perspective (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1993), 70. 41. See, however, Oliver Leaman, Islamic Aesthetics: An Introduction (Notre Dame, In.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004), which, without mentioning Danto, rejects such Hegelian theories. And see Pierre Bourdieu, “The Historical Genesis of a Pure Aesthetic,” in The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature, ed. Randal Johnson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), chap. 10. 42. G. W. F. Hegel, Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, trans. T. M. Knox, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 2:886. 43. Svetlana Alpers, The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), xix. Later she explicitly links her account to Hegel (249n1). 44. See my Museum Skepticism: A History of the Display of Art in Public Galleries (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), chap. 7.

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not Catholic aristocrats, so Arabs made elaborate decorations because they are desert-dwelling iconoclasts whose culture derives from the Qur’an. Muslims have a sacred book that is the basis for everyday life. And so it is tempting to interpret Islamic art as a form of cultural expression. Hegel’s way of thinking is intuitively plausible because there are obvious links between art and its culture. We find a Hegelian analysis in Gabriele Crespi’s The Arabs in Europe and Alexandre Papadopoulo’s Islam and Muslim Art.45 The Dutch produced distinctive paintings, and art made by Muslims has some relationship with the geography of the countries in which Islam is rooted. But these useful, vague generalizations about the relationship of art to its culture need to be supported by closely detailed interpretations of individual works of art.46 When cultures invest great energy in visual art, we expect that it will express their religious concerns. Danto’s Hegelian way of thinking is but common sense. Hegel’s account of art as a form of social expression thus remains extremely suggestive even when we note the limits of Hegel’s personal knowledge and taste. Hegel explicitly links his analysis with Christian theology. “The Jews and the Turks,” Hegel says, “have not been able by art to represent their God . . . in the positive way that the Christians have.”47 And “the Chinese, Indians, and Egyptians, in their artistic shapes, images of gods, and idols, never get beyond formlessness or a bad and untrue definiteness of form.”48 Suppose that your definition of art is based exclusively upon European examples—Italian Renaissance frescoes, French Modernist paintings, and American Pop Art and Minimalism. After studying these artifacts, you define art. The artifacts in a multicultural art history—for example, Chinese scrolls, Hindu temple and Islamic decoration—look unfamiliar, and so perhaps your definition will require modification. Since Kant, European aesthetics has tended to make a distinction between fine and applied art, which is mere decoration. But artists in China, India, and the Islamic world mostly do not.49 Kant’s ideas 45. Gabriele Crespi, The Arabs in Europe (New York: Rizzzoli, 1986); and Alexandre Papadopoulo, Islam and Muslim Art, trans. Robert Erich Wolf (New York: Harry H. Abrams, 1979). 46. Barbara Brend speaks in Hegelian terms when she notes that “the sense of order” characteristic of Islamic art “is rooted in the Islamic view that everything that exists is willed by Allah and has its place in the divine scheme of things.” Barbara Brend, Islamic Art (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), 225. 47. Hegel, Aesthetics, I, 1:7. 48. Ibid., 1:74. 49. “The history of Muslim art is above all the history of the applied arts. . . . Textiles, ceramics and metalwork were all collected and displayed for aesthetic reasons. There are no proper grounds for classifying these arts as ‘minor’ ones.” Robert Irwin, Islamic Art in Context: Art, Architecture, and the Literary World (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1997), 165.

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heavily influenced Modernist aesthetics. When successful, Clement Greenberg writes, the all-over picture “comes very close to decoration—to the kind seen in wallpaper patterns that can be repeated indefinitely—and insofar as the ‘allover’ picture remains an easel picture . . . it infects the notion of the genre with a fatal ambiguity.”50 Here we see a typical modern Western prejudice against decoration. When discussing the origin, development, and aesthetic value of objects, historians explain how and why they differ from art made in other cultures. Only in the late nineteenth century did carpets and other artifacts made by Muslims, as well as painting and sculpture from China and other non-European cultures, enter public art museums.51 No one would confuse a Chinese scroll painting with an Italian fresco or mistake a sculpture of a multiarmed Hindu god for a sculpture of Christ. Works of art from these cultures are dissimilar because they use diverse media and express differing religious ideals. But that does not show that definitions of art derived from European examples are inappropriate. Here quickly we get to some deep, not easily resolved problems. Many claims of traditional Western aesthetics are obviously parochial. Vasari’s view that art is mimesis and Joshua Reynolds’s account of idealizing representations do not describe all visual art. But that only shows that this theorizing was insufficiently general. Like their precursors, Wollheim and Danto draw upon a limited range of examples. But this does not show that their conclusions apply only to European art. Danto, who takes a serious interest in Chinese and Indian philosophy, argues that the writers in this tradition developed arguments uncannily akin to those of their European peers.52 Perhaps, then, any philosopher anywhere will discover the same arguments. If so, then philosophy from outside Europe has sociological interest, but it may tell us nothing new. But it is not clear, to draw the obvious parallel, that Wollheim’s and Danto’s definitions of art are parochial. Like European art, Chinese paintings and Indian sculptures represent and are expressive. Like European art, Persian miniatures and Islamic decoration using Arabic words are about something and embody its meaning. Wollheim’s and Danto’s definitions certainly fit these examples. 50. Clement Greenberg, Art and Culture: Critical Essays (Boston: Beacon Press, 1961), 155. 51. See Stephen Vernoit, ed., Discovering Islamic Art: Scholars, Collectors and Collections, 1850–1950 (London: I. B. Tauris, 2000). “Before the modern period, there is substantially no body of speculation of the pleasurable responses to created objects, as such, or on their formal capacities to induce such responses.” Edwin Gerow, “Indian Aesthetics: A Philosophical Survey,” in A Companion to World Philosophies, ed. Eliot Deutsch and Ron Bontekoe (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 1997), 304. 52. Arthur C. Danto, Mysticism and Morality: Oriental Thought and Moral Philosophy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987).

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There are two ways that we might think of the relationship between visual art and its associated culture. “Storytelling is an activity of universal occurrence and timeless appeal. . . . Exploiting the power of narratives, Buddhists in early India used visual storytelling as a way of popularizing their faith.”53 Like European Christians, Buddhists and Hindus in India made art to aid in religious devotions. The content of these pictures is exotic, but they represent in the same way as Western sacred images. Most art historians take this commonsense view for granted. But Hegel suggests a quite different, radically opposed analysis. He says that we cannot separate the form of Western representations from their content. The content of painting, for example, “is the spiritual inner life which can come into appearance in the external only as retiring into itself out of it. So painting . . . becomes a reflection of the spirit in which the spirit only reveals its spiritual quality by canceling the real existent and transforming it into a pure appearance in the domain of spirit for apprehension by spirit.”54 Painting is the Christian art par excellence because of the way it represents. This analysis is very obscure, and because art historians have mostly abandoned metaphysical concerns, it is hard to evaluate. Suppose, however, that Hegel was correct. What then would follow is that we cannot understand the representations of Buddhists and Hindus without investigating their worldviews. Were that claim correct, then a general aesthetic theory could not be created without discussing non-Western examples.55 Clearly there is much more to this story. But this prolegomena to a world art history is not the place to tell it.56 Our concern is to understand the relationship of the diverse high-art traditions. For the practicing historian of art, these fascinating philosophical concerns raised by Wollheim and Danto remain over the horizon. They will not show us how to identify the connections of successive works of art on our time lines. Here, then, we should note an important ambiguity in the word “aesthetic.” Philosophers understand by aesthetics a completely general analysis. The art historian typically has a more parochial concern, tracing some particular tradition. For historians, for example, the phrase “Islamic art”57 53. Vidya Dehejia, Indian Art (London: Phaidon, 1997), 51. 54. Hegel, Aesthetics, 2:805. 55. Danto takes great interest in contemporary art, while Wollheim had more traditional tastes. And so it may seem ironical that Wollheim’s definition is historical and Danto’s ahistorical. 56. People of all human cultures are related, and so have the same brain structures. And so it is natural to wonder whether exotic representations could really be so different from ours. 57. Richard Ettinghausen, Oleg Grabar, and Marilyn Jenkins-Madina, Islamic Art and Architecture, 650–1250, 2nd ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 3. This paragraph is indebted to Oleg Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), chap. 1.

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“refers to the monuments and remains of material culture made by or for people who lived under rulers who professed the faith of Islam or in social and cultural entities which, whether themselves Muslim or not, have been strongly influenced by the modes of life and thought characteristic of Islam.” Grabar writes as an art historian when he defines “aesthetic”: “The formal expression through the visual language that characterizes Persian painting [is] . . . an objective aesthetic.” And, speaking more subjectively, he identifies “the judgments made by contemporaries of this art, and the appreciation, critical or uncritical, that is appropriate in our own time.”58



58. Grabar, Mostly Miniatures, 124.

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Exotic Aesthetics

Carpets resist art history. — t a pa t i g u ha - t haku rt a

We understand how someone acts by putting ourselves in his shoes, temporarily “taking on . . . his outlook and preconceptions.”1 Historians do this to bring alive distant political figures. “It was the young Zhu Yuanzhang’s nature to be serious; he pondered life’s choices carefully and took action cautiously. At a time when a dozen upstarts like himself were claiming the title of emperor or were being pushed into it by their ambitious handlers, he began quite early on to examine the options.”2 This narrative presents the exotic world of fourteenthcentury China, assimilating it to the terms of a familiar psychology. We know people like Zhu Yuanzhang and so are prepared to understand his actions. In his canonical account of interpretation, Donald Davidson writes: “Kurt utters the words ‘Es regnet’ and under the right conditions we know that he has said that it is raining. Having identified his utterance as intentional and linguistic, we are able to go on to interpret his words: we can say what his words, on that occasion, meant.”3 He describes language, not works of art, but his analysis is suggestive for our purposes. In interpreting artifacts from exotic cultures, art historians also aspire to understand what the artist meant. We understand Chinese landscapes by learning about Buddhist and Daoist theories of nature. And we comprehend Islamic decorative art by studying Islamic views of God and beauty. Knowing the cultural contexts, we identify the artists’ intentions. This account makes the interpretation of exotic art seem straightforward. But often, of course, it is not. Consider, for example, the debate about the 1. Bernard Williams, Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), 237. 2. Frederick W. Mote, Imperial China, 900–1800 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 552. 3. Donald Davidson, Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), 169.

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third-century b.c. Asokan lion pillar, the emblem of the Indian republic. Sherman Lee says that the lions are very much like those in Persian monuments.4 But some scholars dispute the claim that this sculpture is partly of foreign inspiration. More recently Partha Mitter has said: “Rather than initiating monumental art in India, Asoka made imaginative political use of a much older pillar cult symbolizing the axis mundi (the pillar as the symbolic representation of the axis on which the world spins).”5 Here we find an interpretative struggle. Can we put ourselves in the world of a distant culture? To appreciate Chinese art properly, it has been argued, “the Westerner must forget his own mental preconceptions, and must throw over his artistic education, every critical tradition, and all the aesthetic baggage that has accumulated from the Renaissance to our own days. He must specially refrain from comparison of the works of Chinese painters with any of the famous canvases which cover the walls of our European collections.”6 Is that really possible? How can we pretend, even, to forget everything we know? To understand another culture, we need momentarily to subtract ourselves out of our own. Doing that may be very hard. Some important commentators think that we can understand any culture by sufficiently sympathetic interpretation. In the eighteenth century “Herder put forward the idea that each of us has an original way of being human. . . . Before the late eighteenth century, no one thought that the differences between human beings had this kind of moral significance. There is a certain way of being human that is my way. I am called upon to live my life in this way, and not in imitation of anyone else’s life.”7 Isaiah Berlin says that according to Herder we “can, by the force of imaginative insight, understand . . . the values, the ideals, the forms of life of another culture or society, even those remote in time or space . . . if they open their minds sufficiently they can grasp how one might  . . . live in the light of values widely different from one’s own.”8 Berlin distinguishes such pluralism from relativism, which holds that different cultures (or individuals) 4. Sherman Lee, A History of Far Eastern Art (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994), 78. 5. Partha Mitter, Indian Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 14. 6. M. R. Marguerye, quoted in The Wu Liang Shrine: The Ideology of Early Chinese Pictorial Art, by Wu Hung (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989), 51. 7. Charles Taylor, Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 30. 8. Isaiah Berlin, The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas, ed. Henry Hardy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991), 10, 11. See Michael N. Forster, introduction to Philosophical Writings, by Johann Gottfried von Herder, trans. and ed. Michael N. Forster (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Parekh, Rethinking Multiculturalism, 67–76; Charles Taylor, “The Importance of Herder,” in Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration, ed. Edna Margalit and Avishai Margalit (London: Hogarth Press, 1991), chap. 3; and Charles Taylor, “Language and Human Nature,” in Human Agency and Language: Philosophical Papers I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), chap. 9.

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have tastes or attitudes that are not objectively valid. Multiculturalism, the claim that different cultures have different values, is, he thinks, an important position, but relativism is not. There are many diverse social systems. Since each has real value, we try to understand every other culture on its own terms. “All genuine expressions of experience are valid.”9 This claim seems problematic. Could an orthodox Jew imagine the values and ideals of Nazi Germany? Can a devout Muslim conceive of the form of life of secular America?10 A Jew imagines herself attacking a synagogue. Her victims cringe as she waves a swastika. A Muslim imagines himself eating pork and drinking red wine. Just as an actor can play varied roles, pretending to be someone of another sex or with exotic beliefs, so these people imagine taking roles.11 But if these scenes are more than playacting, they may be very hard to imagine.12 Norbert Elias, who was Jewish by origin, attended a Hitler rally, an experience that proved revealing for that great scholar of ritual.13 But he remained just an observer. Berlin asks that we abandon our own identity and imaginatively temporarily take up another. It is not obvious that this is possible for everyone or for people within every society. After all, not all cultures have theaters. Berlin’s essay on Joseph de Maistre, a sympathetic reader says, shows how a Jewish liberal can see the world of a fascist.14 Empathy yielded a remarkable intellectual history. But it would have been harder for Berlin to take the viewpoint of a contemporary fascist. At some point, acts of imagining reach their natural limits.15 Interpreting historically distant cultures is difficult, for their beliefs are very hard for us to comprehend. But can we imagine the lives of Pre-Columbian Americans? “The highest level of Mayan society was occupied by the dynastic elite, which was composed by the supreme ruler (the abau, a heredity title) along 9. Isaiah Berlin, “Herder and the Enlightenment,” in Three Critics of the Enlightenment: Vico, Manann, Herder, by Isaiah Berlin, ed. Henry Tardy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 197. 10. See my “Three Kinds of Imagination,” Journal of Philosophy 70, no. 22 (1973): 819–31. 11. The classical discussion of role-playing is Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1959); the classical critique, Lionel Trilling, Sincerity and Authenticity (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972). See also my Artwriting (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987), chap. 5. 12. This account of imagination draws upon Richard Wollheim, On Art and the Mind: Essays and Lectures (London: Allen Lane, 1973), chap. 3. 13. Norbert Elias, Reflections on a Life, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994), 47. 14. Michael Ignatieff, “Understanding Fascism,” in Margalit and Margalit, Isaiah Berlin, 135. As he goes on to point out, “all of his thinking has been about the traditions of the West” (137). Berlin did not consider whether this act of empathy could be extended to cultures outside Europe. 15. But Primo Levi, an Italian of Jewish origin, attempted to sympathetically understand the Nazis who ran the concentration camp in which he was imprisoned.

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with the main branch of his family. . . . In the Mayan world the abau was likened to the Sun, and the dynastic succession to the solar cycle; the new abau was compared to the rising Sun.”16 This elite kept control because they understood the very accurate calendar. Imagine yourself an abau, adjusting the calendar. To do that, you might need to momentarily bracket your knowledge of post-Mayan science. If your identity is closely bound up with your community, imagining yourself a member of such an exotic culture might be impossible.17 Berlin says that each community “has its own ‘life-style,” which possesses validity. “It would be reasonable always to begin by assuming that any culture that has supported and animated the lives of its members for a decent period of time offers something of value, even if we as outsiders cannot yet apprehend what that value is.”18 This claim is problematic. Some destructive cultures do not last long, but others do. When communities have extremely nasty lifestyles, are they to be admired? Perhaps an anthropologist can admire a small, destructive tribe aesthetically, knowing that their behavior affects only themselves and neighboring tribes. (Claude Lévi-Strauss sometimes seems to do that.) But the Mongols invaded China, Europe, and Persia, killing enormous numbers of people. They sacked Baghdad, murdering everyone. Did their distinctive nomadic lifestyle possess validity? “According to the doctrine of romantic nationalism, each culture constitutes a self-contained moral universe.”19 But what happens when cultures collide? Berlin does qualify his claims. Herder “disliked every form of violence, coercion and the swallowing up of one culture by another, because he wants everything to be what it is as much as it possibly can.”20 But this qualification does not resolve our problem. Larger cultures often come into conflict, so if we exclude them we exclude much of history. Western imperialism, which made possible our world art history, involved violence, coercion, and the swallowing up of exotic cultures.21 16. Alfonso Arellano Hernández, Maricela Ayala Falcón, Beatriz de la Fuente, Mercedes de la Garza, Leticia Staines Cicero, and Bertina Olmedo Vera, The Mayas of the Classical Period, trans. Kim López Mills and Sergio Negrete (Milan: Editoriale Jaca Book, 1999), 91, 92. 17. Berlin’s sympathetic account notes the liberating force of Herder’s multiculturalism. Perhaps he found this counterintuitive argument plausible because he underestimated the difficulty of imagining life in a truly alien community. 18. John Arthur, “Multiculturalism,” in The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics, ed. Hugh LaFollette (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 431, summarizing the views of Charles Taylor. 19. Brian Barry, Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001), 264. 20. Isaiah Berlin, The Roots of Romanticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 64. 21. And there are problems with Berlin’s Herderism even apart from such cases. Imagine a nasty culture on an isolated desert island. They carve beautifully the skulls of their enemies. Why should their lifestyle possess validity?

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Anthropologists want to understand how cultures survive. As art historians, we are interested in the relationship between cultures’ beliefs and their art. Perhaps, even, they are fascinating because they are uniquely disgusting. But why do the people holding these beliefs deserve our respect? Suppose that their ways of thinking are counter to clear common sense or good science. Or imagine that their beliefs cause great suffering to their own people. Within the Islamic world, for example, a sympathetic Muslim commentator reports, “there are as many as two million female circumcisions a year, and over 80 million women living today have undergone it. . . . The practice deeply offends against some of the basic human or universal values. . . . It inflicts irreversible physical harm, is sexist in nature, violates the integrity of the child, makes irreversible decisions for her, endangers her life, and removes an important source of pleasure.”22 If this is entrenched Muslim practice, then should Westerners respect Islamic culture?23 Politicians, always seeking votes, need to be polite. But the philosopher ought to pursue these hard questions. Within the art world, however, we can happily focus on understanding our sources of aesthetic pleasure. Art historians can appreciate exotic art without accepting the worldview of its creators. Even if we do not believe that the Mayan lifestyle possessed validity, still we admire Mayan art. And even if we do not think that Islamic theology has value, we recognize that it inspired great decorative art. Nowadays relatively few Catholics accept the stern Counter-Reformation theology of their church. But many enjoy Caravaggio’s paintings and Bernini’s sculptures, which it inspired. Even if you think Catholicism, Hinduism, Islam, and the Mayan religion pernicious, still you can enjoy the beautiful artifacts they motivated.24 Serious study of an exotic culture is compatible with complete lack of sympathy with, or even contempt for, the people who made it. That the Mayans made some wonderful sculpture does not make their religious beliefs more plausible. But although Mayan culture has been destroyed, we can enjoy the art, which remains. The display and study of exotic art does not necessarily inspire multicultural tolerance. You can love Chinese scrolls, Indian sculptures, or Islamic calligraphy without caring about the people or worldviews of these cultures.25 By detaching art from its original context, art history and the art museum allow us to keep an aesthetic distance from the cultures that created 22. Parekh, Rethinking Multiculturalism, 276. 23. Islam, a sympathetic commentator might reply, has other values that balance its sexism. 24. Perhaps you will enjoy this art more knowing that your modern secular society created the museums in which it is displayed. Art museums show the triumph of postreligious ways of thinking. 25. Christians studied exotic religions in order to expose their errors. Nowadays, by contrast, we hope that knowledge breeds sympathy.

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it.26 Does every exotic culture deserve respect? Perhaps not, but even if we think a people’s lifestyle repulsive, we may still find their beliefs and their art fascinating, complex, and worth interpretation. Once you set yourself at an aesthetic distance from another society, you may become interested in its art for its own sake.27 We need, then, to look critically at the political implications of our world art history. Vasari and Greenberg place contemporary art in relation to the history of European painting. Vasari displays the connections between art of his time and the visual culture going back to Giotto’s time; and Greenberg demonstrates that Abstract Expressionism extends the tradition of European Modernism. Were there not this long tradition of Tuscan painting, our evaluation of Michelangelo’s achievement would probably be different. Were Jackson Pollock not the heir to Picasso’s Cubism, then quite possibly his painting would seem less significant. Because these genealogies are ways of establishing value, they are perfect targets for the suspicious perspectivist.28 Hegel and Gombrich present master narratives, the counterpart, in the intellectual world, of the practice of Western imperialism. As the bold European explorers colonized the entire planet, so these great scholars’ ambitious world histories represent art’s history. Hegel’s and Gombrich’s Eurocentric art histories are memorials to the high tide of colonialism, and our commentary is a natural product of this later era. No longer seeking to rule the globe in colonial style, the West seeks control through international trade. The goal of a world art history is to represent and so to help control other societies. In acknowledging the independent importance of the traditions of China, India, and Islam and presenting these visual cultures with its narratives, the West thus maintains its control in this postcolonial situation. This, then, is a suspicious Foucauldian evaluation of our world art history.29 Consider, however, a more benevolent interpretation. A world art history promotes mutual understanding. The key idea, developed by Jürgen Habermas, is mutual recognition.30 By understanding your art, I recognize you. To 26. “We should aim at something . . . beyond toleration, something like mutual respect.” Michael Walzer, On Toleration (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 52. 27. Wollheim secularizes art because he thinks that its origins in religious practice are irrelevant to its distinctive aesthetic qualities. 28. See my Writing About Visual Art (New York: Allworth Press, 2003), chap. 5. 29. Marxism, it might be added, is part of this imperialist tradition. Like Christian missionaries, Marxists exported their Eurocentric worldview. 30. “I value myself because you recognize me, and vice-versa. Each thus becomes vulnerable to the other and . . . each develops a motive to protect oneself by limiting the ways in which one exposes oneself to the other.” J.  Donald Moon, “Practical Discourse and Communicative Ethics,” in The Cambridge Companion to Habermas, ed. Stephen K. White (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 155.

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understand Chinese painting, Indian sculptures, and Islamic decorations, we must study their aesthetics. When we interpret this art, we show the power of our culture. “We see our task,” Richard Rorty writes, “as a matter of making our own culture—the human rights culture—more self-conscious and more powerful, rather than of demonstrating its superiority to other cultures by appeal to something transcultural.”31 But our goal is not merely to export our ways of thinking, without regard to the legitimately different interests of people in exotic cultures. We seek, rather, to be respectful. Westerners may legitimately believe that these ways of thinking about art history will benefit other cultures. While recognizing that the source of our world art history was imperialism, we believe that this project possesses values of interest to other cultures. Just as, according to Nietzsche, Christian morality created and promoted a concern with objective truth, which proved central to Western philosophers including Nietzsche himself, so this search for a universal story of art may have implications that run quite contrary to the practical concerns of imperialists. We want to know what alternative ways of understanding the world history of art are possible. What, then, is subjective and what objective in our account? “Perspectivism does not result in the relativism that holds that any view is as good as any other; it . . . generates the expectation that new views and values are bound to become necessary as it produces the willingness to develop and to accept such new schemes.”32 Is our diagram of the converging time lines a God’s-eye view? Not exactly! Our diagram shows the past as seen from the perspective of the present. Our time lines present the historical facts.33 Someone from another culture would draw the same diagram, though giving himself or herself a different place on it. In the future, perhaps another diagram will be developed. Perspectivism may involve a weak or a strong critique of our universal art history. Weak perspectivism claims that we see history from a parochial point of view. The events of 1857 called by the British the “Indian Mutiny” are known to Indians as the “First War of Independence.”34 And Muslims and Christians use different calendars. According to an Indian art historian: “Europe of the present day has far more to learn from India in art than to teach. Religious art in Europe 31. Richard Rorty, “Human Rights, Rationality, and Sentimentality,” in Philosophical Papers, vol. 3, Truth and Progress (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 171. 32. Alexander Nehamas, Nietzsche: Life as Literature (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985), 72. 33. More exactly, it shows a selection of those facts. 34. John Keay, India: A History (London: Harper Perennial, 2000), 437.

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is altogether lost: it perished in our so-called Renaissance. In India the true spirit of it still lives.”35 Most Western art historians find that a very eccentric judgment. But conservative Western commentators make similar claims. According to strong perspectivism, different worldviews are mutually incomprehensible. If writing a multicultural history is a Eurocentric project, for example, then an objective multicultural history is impossible in principle.36 Edith Tömöry’s A History of Fine Arts in India and the West is an instructive model.37 It falls into two parts: an account of Indian art, which takes you to page 286, and a discussion of the West, which goes to page 488. Her account of Indian art covers the usual examples in familiar ways. Leonardo’s Last Supper, for example, “provided the classical representation of the scene, and in such a convincing manner, that ever since his picture has become the accepted interpretation of the Last Supper.”38 Tömöry’s view of the present is pessimistic. “Faith in a loving God who helps man transcend himself inspired the great Gothic art, while the loss of faith liberated the worst in man.”39 Nowadays only people totally unsympathetic with Modernism make such claims. “Pollock’s restless lines show no express aim,” she complains, “but mirror the rootlessness of his time, his craving for absolute freedom.”40 Then she speaks of “the fluctuating art market, with artificial fashions as the criteria rather than real artistic value.”41 But she praises a number of twentieth-century Indian artists. When Tömöry presents these two narratives, connected only because they are in one book, she effectively suggests that there is no relationship between the stories of art in India and in Europe. Perspectivism asserts that there are multiple ways of mapping the structure of our world.42 We tend to center our representations on what is most important to us. When the Chinese encountered Europeans, they were surprised to learn 35. E. B. Havell, The Art Heritage of India, rev. ed. (Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons., 1964), 53. 36. Gayatri Spivak perhaps is a strong perspectivist when she criticizes the histories of India that treat Britain “as the unquestioned norm, considering the problems only in the domestic context, emphasizing the colonial as the normative.” Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 222. 37. Edith Tömöry, A History of Fine Arts in India and the West (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1982). Tömöry was a Hungarian nun who taught in India. 38. Ibid., 377. 39. Ibid., 488. 40. Ibid., 480–81. Compare the account of the Western conservative H. R. Rookmaaker, Modern Art and the Death of a Culture, 2nd ed. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1994). 41. Tömöry, A History of Fine Arts in India and the West, 480. 42. On maps, see Chandra Mukerji, From Graven Images: Patterns of Modern Materialism (New York: Columbia Press, 1983), chap. 3.

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that our maps were not centered on their country. A map reproduced in Ibn Khaldun’s The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History is centered on Egypt and Syria, with the empty sub-Saharan Africa at the top and Brittany close to the empty wastelands at the bottom.43 For a fourteenth-century North African, the Islamic Middle East was the center of the map. We have only offered one map of the converging time lines of our multicultural art history. This book is A World Art History, not The World Art History; other ways of telling this story are possible. But all accounts must be consistent with the historical facts revealed in our time lines. Any world art history must be consistent with the fact, for example, that in 1498 Vasco da Gama was the first European to reach India by sailing around Africa. It is a convention that our account focuses on artistic traditions. We might, rather, compare iconographies of diverse traditions or develop comparative social histories. But it is not a convention that the objects on our time lines display these causal connections, rather than some others or none. Tapati Guha-Thakurta’s laconic epigraph to this chapter points to the real limits of our perspective. Our four parallel time lines present annals, listings of the works of art made in China, Europe, India, and the Islamic world. To create a proper history, we then require an aesthetic that explains how these works of art constitute traditions. All of these cultures have art-making traditions, in which artists inherit and develop a way of proceeding. But either because too much of the evidence has been destroyed and lost, or because China, India, and Islam think of art differently from the West, we don’t have any convincing way of explaining the development of these traditions.44 China has an elaborate tradition of art writing, but it is hard from that evidence to construct a full-scale history.45 India and the Islamic world created complex aesthetic systems dealing with music and literature. But they did not develop histories of art.46 43. Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, trans. Franz Rosenthal, 3 vols. (New York: Pantheon, 1958), 1:110–11. 44. In Europe, also, we find the same problem. The Greeks wrote histories of their art, but “the study of Roman art has no comparable resources. The Romans, who cast their political history in so grand a form, apparently never wrote the history of their art. . . . Isolated historical notes cannot make up for the lack of a methodical, professional history of art.” Otto J. Brendel, Prolegomena to the Study of Roman Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), 94. 45. See Cao Yiqiang, “Some Features of the History of Art History in China,” which to the best of my knowledge remains unpublished. 46. Art from anywhere can be interpreted in Hegelian terms as an expression of that culture’s worldview. Art, in effect, is the theology of a culture made visible. Understand their beliefs and you will know the art of these cultures. In this simplified summary, his very challenging view of Christian expression gets lost. Without mentioning Hegel, many historians of India employ a Hegelian framework. Benjamin Rowland, for example, says: “Indian art, like every manifestation of Oriental expression, is the product of certain religious and material circumstances which . . . transcending time and

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The works of art from China, India, and Islam are intentional products. Styles of art-making changed, and we have a large, varied body of painting and sculpture, from various regions, some of it associated with artists whose names are preserved. We know a great deal about these cultures and are able to reconstruct their religious worldviews in great detail. But we do not yet know how to write histories of their art. If we look across to history proper, this conclusion seems very surprising.47 The Chinese, the Indians, and the Muslims have geography, religions, social histories, and technologies quite unlike those of Europe. But just as we can tell the story of Europe, so too we can narrate the history of China, India, and the Islamic world. Historians tell how China was worried about invasions from Northern “barbarians”; how India created the traditions of Hinduism and responded to the Muslim invasions; and how Islam, starting place, determine its form in all periods.” Benjamin Rowland, Art and Architecture of India: Buddhist, Hindu, Jain (London: Puffin, 1971), 2. And Philip Rawson writes: “Hinduism . . . is vast and sprawling compendium of many beliefs, practices, legends and social customs. . . . The basis of the whole structure is the readiness of ordinary Indians to recognize and reverence spiritual powers wherever they may be found. . . . his countryside is populated with spirits, many of them evil, some good; but far the greater number of them are, like human beings, a mixture of the two.” Philip S. Rawson, Indian Painting (Paris: Pierre Tisne, 1961), 59. You find an Hegelian account in An Advanced History of India: “Ancient India, with all its robust optimism and vigorous faith in life, speaks, as it were, through these stones, in a tone that offers a sharp but pleasing contrast to the dark pessimistic views of life which some of the old religious texts are never tired of repeating.” R. C. Majumdar, H. C. Raychaudhuri, and Kalikinkar Datta, An Advanced History of India (London: Macmillan, 1960), 231, 254. Indian art, they go on to say, “shows, as the national ideal, the subordination of ideas of physical beauty and material comfort to ethical conceptions and spiritual bliss.” If a culture has a distinctive worldview, then we understand its art by treating it as an expression of their ways of living and thinking. Just as Hegel’s Hollanders love everyday scenes of prosperity because they are Protestant merchants, not Catholic aristocrats, so Arab Muslims made elaborate decorations because they are desert-dwelling iconoclasts whose culture derives from a sacred book. We find such a Hegelian analysis in Gabriele Crespi, The Arabs in Europe (New York: Rizzoli, 1986); and Alexandre Papadopoulo, Islam and Muslim Art, trans. Robert Erich Wolf (New York: Harry H. Abrams, 1979). Muslims have a sacred book, and so it is tempting to interpret Islamic art by reference to the culture and literature essential to Muslims, as a form of cultural expression. Hegel’s way of thinking is intuitively plausible because there are obvious links between art and its culture. The Dutch did produce distinctive paintings, and art made by Muslims does have some relationship with the geography of the countries in which Islam is rooted. But these useful, vague generalizations about the relationship of art to its culture need to be supported by closely detailed interpretations of individual works of art. 47. Perhaps this conclusion is less surprising if we look to our art world. Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, and Benjamin H. D.  Buchloh’s Art Since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2005) presents a history of twentieth century art. But their book lacks a conventional narrative. In his review, Pepe Karmel speculates that such a book is “in fact a kind of dinosaur.” Pepe Karmel, “The October Century,” Art in America (November 2005): 63. No one, as yet, knows how to write a convincing history of contemporary Western visual art. If we have this problem understanding contemporary art, then perhaps we should be less worried about our inability to narrate histories of exotic painting and sculpture.

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in a backward province on the margins of the former Roman Empire, suddenly expanded explosively to occupy a territory stretching from southern Spain to central Asia. Once we know the beliefs of the Chinese, Indians, and Muslims, we can explain how they acted and what they achieved. Why, then, does their exotic art resist analysis? Is the problem that we do not as yet understand how to see the visual evidence properly? Or is the difficulty that we remain too much under the spell of Eurocentric ways of thinking? These exotic cultures have history but not, perhaps, art histories like ours. In the introduction I drew a parallel between our multicultural art history and an atheistic ethics. Because only recently has serious attention been given to a nonreligious morality, it would be premature to judge what is possible. The same is true, I would argue here, with a multicultural art history. Western specialists have studied the arts of China, India, and Islam since the mid-nineteenth century, but as yet the concern with writing a genuinely multicultural history has not been prominent. Since we do not know how this theory may develop, it would not be irrational to have high hopes. Oleg Grabar is the art historian who has wrestled in the most challenging way with this problem. What style of interpretation, he asks, is appropriate to art of Muslim cultures? In The Mediation of Ornament he offers an extremely imaginative answer. Because one central concern for Islamic art historians is decoration, this art seems exotic indeed. Traditionally the central focus of European historians is on “the nonornamental, that grand and grandiose recreation of the natural world that forms, at least within a mainstream art historical tradition, the major achievement of Western painting.”48 Here Grabar adds, “I part company with Gombrich’s position.” Gombrich does say that “my interest in problems of pure design goes back much further in my life than my interest in the psychology of illusion.”49 But decoration (and so also much of Islamic art) lies literally at the margins of his history of art. The great set piece in Gombrich’s The Sense of Order is the account of Raphael’s Madonna della Sedia and its frame. It reveals, so Gombrich claims, an “effortless transition from representation to decoration.”50 “Without a frame there can be no centre. The richer the elements of the frame, the more the centre will gain in dignity. We are not meant to examine them individually.”51 The decorative 48. Oleg Grabar, The Mediation of Ornament (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 40. 49. E. H. Gombrich, The Sense of Order: A Study in the Psychology of Decorative Art (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979), vii. 50. Ibid., 161. 51. Ibid., 156.

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frame remains marginal to this Raphael as in Gombrich’s The Story of Art Islamic art is marginal. “Muhammed . . . directed the mind of the artist away from the objects of the real world to . . . [a] dream-world of lines and colours.”52 We find here something more than the understandable need for popularization in an introductory survey. Gombrich believes that the restless concern with progress in Western representational art is an artistic version of our culture’s experimental scientific attitude.53 Decorative Islamic art, by contrast, expresses an essentially static worldview. The Mediation of Ornament decenters this well-entrenched way of thinking about the relationship of decoration and figuration. It ends with a question: “Is it possible to argue . . . that by providing pleasure ornament also gives to the observer the right and the freedom to choose meanings?”54 We associate interpretative freedom not with Islam but with our Western post-Christian secular culture. The pleasures of Muslims traditionally have been patriarchial and in part exclusionary, for the decorations of mosques are only selectively accessible to nonbelievers. Since Grabar imaginatively responds to Islamic decoration as an outsider, not bound by the ways of thinking of Muslim culture, why does he understand his analysis to be an art-historical account? In China the development of art is the product of a very long, essentially indigenous tradition. The Christians, by contrast, inherited and dramatically reworked the worldview of classical antiquity, eventually making it theirs. And Islam, Grabar notes, faced a very different situation. “During the first century after the conquest the Muslims were brought into immediate contact with the fantastic artistic wealth of the Mediterranean and Iran. They were strongly affected by a world in which images, buildings, and objects were active expressions of social standing, religion, political allegiance, and intellectual or theological positions.”55 Suddenly able to afford lavish art, they needed to compete with the neighboring Christian world. But because there was no elaborate indigenous tradition, they needed to borrow from other cultures while expressing their own distinctive identity as Muslims. The story of how Islam took over very rich artistic traditions and made them their own reminds the art critic of the situation of Postmodernism in the 1980s. If your goal is to be original, then inheriting an elaborate visual culture can cause real problems. As the Muslims needed to 52. E.  H.  Gombrich, The Story of Art (London: Phaidon, 1995), 143. This is misleading. The Qur’an gives no directions about how to make or understand visual art. 53. See my “Gombrich on Art Historical Explanations,” Leonardo 16, no. 2 (1983): 91–96. 54. Grabar, Mediation, 237. 55. Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art , 96.

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detach themselves from the traditions they inherited, so our Postmodernists broke with an exhausted Modernist tradition. Grabar’s characterization of ornament as “the ultimate mediator, paradoxically questioning the value of meanings by channeling them into pleasure,” borrows from Roland Barthes, whom Grabar mentions three pages earlier in The Mediation of Ornament.56 Literary critics criticize Barthes’s frankly ahistorical The Pleasure of the Text. The same objection can be made to Grabar’s account. How does his analysis relate to a traditional art historian’s goal, the reconstruction of Islamic art history? Grabar turns away from merely understanding the decorations of Muslims as they really were understood by their creators to describing how he sees these exquisitely attractive patterns. Because the documentation does not tell us how to understand it, we are free to choose how we will interpret Islamic art.

56. “Imagine someone . . . who abolishes within himself all barriers, all classes, all exclusions . . . who mixes every language . . . who silently accepts every charge of illogicality. . . . This anti-hero exists: he is the reader of the text at the moment he takes his pleasure.” Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text, trans. Richard Miller (New York: Hill and Wang, 1975), 3.

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One frequently hears it urged that deep differences of language carry with them ultimate differences in the way one thinks, or looks upon the world. — w il l a r d v a n o rm an q u ine

How different could the beliefs of another human culture be?1 Quine discusses anthropological studies of Native Americans. Following the linguist Benjamin Whorf, some philosophers think that when Europeans see rabbits, some Native Americans see rabbit-stages.2 And where we speak of seeing the same rabbit at successive times, they talk about connected rabbit-stages. Quine’s discussion nicely brings out the ways that multiculturalism is philosophically challenging. The Navajo see the same world as Westerners, so how can their beliefs be so very different?3 The Jains, a now-small Indian religious group whose view of nonviolence greatly influenced Gandhi, believe in rebirth. According to their metaphysics, the universe contains two sorts of things, souls and matter. “Souls strive to be reborn and so to rise to the top of the cosmos, where they remain blissfully motionless.” Jains believe that the cosmos has “the shape of a gigantic man or woman.” And they think that once in a golden age miraculous trees supplied all needs.4 As even sympathetic commentators note, it is difficult to reconcile this metaphysics with commonsense Western ways of thinking. Problems interpreting very unfamiliar worldviews occur often when translating exotic art writing. The “Six Elements” of Hsieh Ho (active 500–35) have 1. I write “human” because extraterrestrial cultures might be unimaginably different. 2. Chad Hansen, Language and Logic in Ancient China (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1983) is a Whorfian account of Chinese. 3. An atheist sees a man handling bread and wine where the Catholic sees the body and blood of Christ. But both see the same man performing the same actions. The Navajo see, shoot, and eat rabbits. 4. See Ninian Smart, Doctrine and Argument in India Philosophy (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1969), 63.

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been much discussed. “First, Spirit Resonance which means vitality; second, Bone Method which is a way of using the brush; third, Correspondence to the Object which means the depicting of forms; fourth, Suitability to Type which has to do with the laying on of colors; fifth, Division and Planning, that is, placing and arrangement; and sixth, Transmission by Copying, that is to say the copying of models.”5 Here there are some obvious parallels with the vocabulary of European treatises on aesthetics. But this translation is controversial. According to one scholar, the first law describes “the vital energy of the painter lingering in a vibrant state to produce the effect of life in a painting.” But according to another, the translation should say, “make the spirit lively and the rhythm vigorous.”6 Perhaps, then, you need to be bilingual to understand Chinese aesthetics. But even our imaginary Italian Chinese woman Ming needs to make translations. In translating exotic aesthetic theories, should we assume that another culture shares our ways of thinking? Or might their ideas about art be very unlike ours? In Indian aesthetics, “Literally, rasa means the juice or extract of a fruit or vegetable; it implies the best or finest part of a thing. In the aesthetic context, rasa refers to a state of heightened awareness evoked by the contemplation of a work of art, drama, poetry, music or dance.”7 Westerners will recognize this ideal of aesthetic experience, but for us the link with juice is perplexing. “The original meaning of this term is ‘flavor’ or ‘taste’ and was first used in early dramaturgical manuals to describe the primary emotional experiences available in the theater. . . . in the early Middle Ages, rasa theory expanded to include the notion that certain rarefied experiences of art could resemble union with the divine.”8 According to Philip Rawson, “The human figures represented in Indian sculpture are always engaged in some mimetic expression. . . . All the figures are always ‘on stage,’ as it were. There are sculptured dancers embodying their roles with all the resources of the Indian dance.”9 This Indian way of thinking, by comparison, is not so odd, for in Europe, too, there are links between visual art and stage performances. Giotto seeks to present an event as if it were enacted on a stage.10 5. Susan Bush and Hsio-yen Shih, eds., Early Chinese Texts on Painting (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985), 40. 6. Ibid., 11, 13. 7. Vidya Dehejia, Indian Art (London: Phaidon, 1997), 20, 8. David L. Gitomer, “Indian Aesthetics,” in Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, ed. Michael Kelly (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 2, 484. 9. Philip Rawson, Sculpture (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997), 146 (emphasis in original). 10. E. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art (London: Phaidon, 1995), 202.

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Much of Tarapada Bhattacharyya’s account of the literature of Indian art will seem obscure to a Westerner. But when he summarizes the concept of “citra” (representation), we find links with ideals of other cultures. “One should depict what is probable or what the artists thought to be probable. An intelligent artist paints what looks probable, but never what transcends it. . . . things may be visible or invisible if not belonging to this world.”11 As Liu Tao-shun said in the mid-eleventh century, “The method of looking is first to observe the representation of spirit, then determine what has been dismissed or retained, next plumb the conception, and finally seek the principles.”12 Joshua Reynolds’s Discourses on Art presented similar ideas.13 Once artists are concerned with naturalism, they decide what subjects to select and how to idealize. Indian philosophy arose in a culture very unlike Greece. It employs a distinct vocabulary and has a different history. But the same arguments are found.14 Anyone studying the world rationally will arrive at these ways of thinking. Perhaps, analogously, when artists make representations, whatever their subjects, they will arrive at something like Europe’s history of what Gombrich calls “making and matching,” the development of naturalism. This analysis presupposes that with sufficient effort and good will, we can understand exotic art from anywhere. But perhaps that may not be the case. In Indian Tantra “the existence of the world is thought of as a continuous giving birth by the yoni (vulva) of the female principle resulting from a continuous infusion of the seed of the male, in sexual delight. The yoni is that rocket or monster-mouth spewing out the world.”15 That metaphysics is not easy to understand, and so it is hard to imagine how an artist can employ this way of thinking. One may, I think, read a lucid account of Tantra without understanding a word.16 Maybe the problem is that Tantric doctrines are hopelessly exotic. 11. Tarapada Bhattacharyya, The Canons of Indian Art; or, A Study on Vastuvidya (Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1947), 369–70. 12. Bush and Shih, Early Chinese Texts on Painting, 99. 13. “The whole beauty and grandeur of the art consists, in my opinion, in being able to get above all singular forms, local customs, particularities, and details of every kind.” Joshua Reynolds, Discourses on Art (New York: Collier, 1966), 45. 14. “Philosophy has really arisen only twice in the history of civilization, once in Greece and once in India. Both times it arose because some distinction between appearance and reality seemed urgent.” Arthur C. Danto, Connections to the World: The Basic Concepts of Philosophy (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997), 14. See Thomas McEvilley, The Shape of Ancient Thought (New York: Allworth Press, 2002). 15. Philip Rawson, Tantra: The Indian Cult of Ecstasy (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1984), 14. 16. Consider this account: “The function of yantra in the sphere of the visible is analogous to that of mantra in the sphere of sound. As mantra is a nucleus of sound by means of which cosmic and bodily forces are concentrated into ritual, so yantra is a nucleus of the visible and knowable, a linked diagram of lines by means of which visualized energies are concentrated.” Ibid., 64.

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Early Western commentators were offended and perplexed by erotic Hindu sculpture.17 And Hinduism disconcerts atheists, Christians, Jews, and Muslims because we all believe that there is at most one god.18 However much we can learn, perhaps we Westerners cannot comprehend Tantric art, the Jain conception of reincarnation, or Hindu theology. Maybe we are radically outside of these ways of thinking. Able to understand them, at best, only intellectually, we cannot grasp the role of art and philosophy within these communities. The Indian idea that the body as microcosm mirrors the universe, so that sexual intercourse takes on cosmic significance, may be comprehensible.19 Some Westerners have similar beliefs. But Tantric representations of intercourse look exotic.20 “If we did not have any values in common,” Isaiah Berlin writes, “each civilisation would be enclosed in its own impenetrable bubble, and we could not understand them at all.”21 That this is an alarming conclusion does not show it to be false. Perhaps we have too few values in common with some Native Americans, Tantric Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus to understand their worldviews. Indeed, the same problem arises when Europeans secularize Western Christian art. Viewing Matthias Grünewald’s Crucifixion, “Ought we not to expect the cross to stand in the center of the picture? . . . The reason for this cannot have been Grünewald’s desire to avoid the split that severs the two halves of the picture into wings that open up.”22 This formal analysis takes no note of religious functions of the image.23 In some ways the beliefs of the Jains or the Tantric artists 17. See Devangana Desai, Erotic Sculpture of India: A Socio-Cultural Study (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1985). “Many heavenly abodes are described as pleasure groves. The erotic scenes are suggestive in a physical way of the blissful nature of these abodes.” David R. Kinsley, Hinduism: A Cultural Perspective (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1993), 75. This seems to me an overly pious view. Westerners have a similar tradition. See Richard Payne Knight, A Discourse of the Worship of Priapus, and Its Connection with the Mystic Theology of the Ancients (Secaucus, N.J.: University Books, Inc. 1974). 18. The ancient Greeks believed in many gods, but in Europe polytheism has long been extinct. See Bob Linrothe and Jeff Watt, Demonic Divine: Himalayan Art and Beyond, exhibition catalogue (New York: Rubin Museum of Art, 2004). 19. “The energy the lover feels aroused and flowing through his or her body is a concentrated form of the same Divine creative energy that continuously diffuses around him to generate the world, sustaining it in existence, fertilizing the ground and causing the landscape to blossom.” Philip Rawson, Erotic Art of India (New York: Universe, 1977), n.p. 20. See Ajit Mookerjee, Tantra Art: Its Philosophy and Physics (Basel: Ravi Kumar, 1983). For parallels in Modernist abstraction, see 3 x Abstraction: New Methods of Drawing: Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz, and Agnes Martin, exhibition catalogue (New York: Drawing Center, 2005). 21. Isaiah Berlin, The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas, ed. Henry Hardy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991), 11. 22. Heinrich Wölfflin, The Sense of Form in Art: A Comparative Psychological Study, trans. Alice Muehsam and Norma A. Shaltan (New York: Chelsea, 1958), 108. 23. Recent art historians have paid more attention to the sacred concerns of European art; see Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image Before the Era of Art, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).

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are no stranger than are those of our Christian ancestors. The Tantric Buddhist meditation techniques certainly sound exotic. But perhaps they become comprehensible when compared with Western forms of meditation.24 We may believe that after reconstructing the beliefs, however exotic, of other cultures, we can understand their art. Just as any human language can be translated, so too any art from anywhere can be understood, more or less, in our terms. Of course there are better and worse difficult translations. But since we all are human, and use language to serve some similar goals—whatever our disparate religious views, political institutions, and worldviews—we can expect that art from anywhere can be interpreted by us. Early India “lacked a Western sense of history, as no accurate records of past events were kept. India’s cyclical rather than linear concept of time, which was conceived as a vast revolving wheel with cycles of creation, destruction and re-creation, perhaps contributed to an indifference towards historical documentation.”25 But the historian requires a Western-style narrative. Here, then, we return to our concern with aesthetics. Where Wollheim and Danto ask, What is art, the art historian poses more parochial questions: What is Chinese art? What is Indian art? What is Islamic art? The philosophers and the art historians have different goals. The philosophers seek a completely general definition, while the historians want to explain the relationship of successive works of art on the various time lines. Writing as an art historian, Oleg Grabar seeks “a true history of Persian painting . . . situating Persian painting within the culture of the Persian-speaking world, the social structure of Iran, the art of the Muslim peoples, and, finally, the universal history of the arts.”26 He asks, What is Persian art? But answering that parochial question is quite consistent, also, with interest in a general aesthetic. Indeed, Grabar assumes “that there are universal modes and values in the perception and 24. “In a manner analogous to the powerful Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, or the words of Paul calling the early christians to ‘put on Christ,’ the Buddhist monks and nuns who perform these liturgies put on the body, heart, and mind of Vairocana-Acala, i.e. the Buddha of Infinite Light and Compassion assisted by the Great Lighting Acala.” Michael Saso, Tantric Art and Meditation: The Tendai Tradition (Honolulu: Tendai Educational Foundation, 1990), 32. 25. Vidya Dehejia, Indian Art (London: Phaidon, 1997),7. 26. Oleg Grabar, Mostly Miniatures: An Introduction to Persian Painting (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 13.

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appreciation of the visual arts, even though nearly infinite variations occur in different places and at different times.”27 Perhaps the general theories of Wollheim and Danto will not interest practicing art historians. But that does not show their theories to be useless. When composing his Lives Vasari turned from painting to writing, making a transition from using the brush to the pen. Chinese artists painted and wrote using the brush, often putting words on their paintings, and so for them this transition was less dramatic. Our time lines emphasize the parallels between these traditions. So too do the older Western histories of Chinese art, which tell the story of painting chronologically. In China, as in Europe, artists inherit and modify their tradition. Ernst Gombrich offers a general theory of the development of art. A painter starts with a schemata and then, looking at nature through a process of making and matching, refines it to more closely match appearances. And so his account should apply also to China. Often critics complain that his art history is Eurocentric. Almost all of the examples in The Story of Art and Art and Illusion come from Western art. But if Gombrich’s approach is correct, then that should not be a real problem. A physicist studying gravity would get the same results in Peking and Paris, for the laws of physics are universal. Gombrich, analogously, uses European case studies to produce a general theory of the development of representation.28 Consider, however, a serious objection to this claim. Like European art, Chinese paintings represent and are expressive. But in other ways Chinese paintings are quite different. Many contain words within the image and are done in ink on scrolls. Scrolls are unrolled vertically or horizontally, and so normally only a part of the painting is visible at one time. In some ways, then, viewing Chinese paintings is more like reading a book than like looking at a typical Western easel picture.29 A full analysis may need to take account of its distinctive medium.30 27. Oleg Grabar, The Mediation of Ornament (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 227. 28. James Cahill says that in Chinese art “paintings of early periods typically convey far more visual information than later ones do.” The Painter’s Practice: How Artists Lived and Worked in Traditional China (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 117. Without mentioning Gombrich, he aligns Chinese and European art. But where Gombrich traces such a history to the internal development of painting, Cahill offers a sociological theory. “Underlying this change is the well-studied decline in China’s engagement in technological innovation.” 29. See Frederick  W. Mote, “Preface: Calligraphy and Books—Their Evolving Relationship Through Chinese History,” in Calligraphy and the East Asian Book, by Frederick W. Mote and HungLam Chu (Boston: Shambhala, 1989). 30. “While the Renaissance visual mode dwells on a symmetrical relationship between the natural world as its pictorial re-presentation, the dominant mode in Chinese painting is asymmetrical and emphasizes the metaphorical linkage between painted images and the observed world and between painted images themselves.” Wu Hung, The Double Screen: Medium and Representation in Chinese Painting (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 24.

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European paintings are windows on the wall, through which we look into an illusionistic space; Chinese scrolls establish an essentially different relationship to the spectator. Alberti described the essence of European painting in 1435. “First of all, on the surface on which I am going to paint, I draw a rectangle of whatever size I want, which I regard as an open window through which the subject to be painted is seen.”31 The painting depicted what would be seen through a window whose boundaries were marked by the picture frame. Just as, when looking through a real window, I see a landscape surrounded by a frame, so in viewing a landscape painting, I look into an imaginary illusionistic space bounded by that picture’s frame. Anything that can be represented on a window-like easel painting also can be depicted on a scroll. Like their European colleagues, the Chinese artists present people, cities, and landscapes. It is possible to paint in European styles on scrolls. And you can use ink and rice paper on framed panels. But Alberti’s window and the Chinese scroll suggest radically different ways of thinking about the surface on which we view the representation. His window is not just a plane, but an object with an implied point of view. The spectator stands in front of a surface, which has a frame; the window separates the inside space in which that spectator is positioned from the outside, viewed by that person through the window. Inside and outside are joined at this surface—and so there are two ways of looking at a European painting. We look through the window, at the picture’s content; and we also can look at the window surface to see how that content is depicted. Any mark on the painting can be placed either in the picture space or on the window surface. Chinese art employs a different system. As the scroll is unfolded right to left or top to bottom, an image is seen straight on or from below. The medium of Chinese painting, ink drawn on silk or rice paper, is similar to that of the book; the oil pigment and canvas of European painting is a quite distinctive physical format.32 We hold a book at arm’s length, at whatever orientation we choose. When Chinese painters add words or collector’s seals, those markings sit on the screen, a “three-dimensional object that differentiates an architectural space . . . a two-dimensional surface for painting  . . . and  . . . a painted image.”33 The screen divides space and provides a surface for painting. Unlike a window, it 31. Joseph Masheck, “Alberti’s ‘Window’: Art-Historiographic Notes on an Antimodernist Misprision,” in Modernities: Art-Matters in the Present (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993), 15. 32. In China, more so than in Europe, writing and painting are closely related. Some masters of calligraphy also were administrators. See Richard Curt Kraus, Brushes with Power: Modern Politics and the Chinese Art of Calligraphy (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991). 33. Hung, The Double Screen, 26.

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does not divide space into inside and outside, into the viewer’s place and what lies on the other side of the window. The screen defines a private place for viewing. Seeing Chinese paintings is more like reading books than looking at Western paintings. Other people may be present in a library, but nowadays reading is essentially a private experience. Someone looking over my shoulder intrudes. By contrast, viewing a European painting always potentially involves a social encounter between the viewer and other people who might enter the room. Treating paintings as windows on the world, we compare what a picture depicts with what can be viewed looking through that window. And once such comparisons are made, it will seem very natural to think of progress in art history as Vasari and Gombrich do. European pictures can be classified according to their truthfulness as windows on the world. A scroll does not encourage this way of thinking. As you unroll the scroll, if you compare the representation of a mountain with that mountain seen in the distance, it is hard to match the image against appearances. Indeed, such matching was alien to Chinese painters, for whom vanishing-point perspective was therefore of little interest. Some Chinese aestheticians link this contrast between windows and screens to broader cultural differences.34 Craig Clunas offers a more plausible contrast. In China “the commoner outside was conscious only of walls, of a denial of access, and of the privatization of space, in an experience which was clearly different from that of the Italian citizens forced daily to walk past the façades of palazzi or churches boldly displaying the arms and names of the great families who ruled over them.”35 China, as much as Europe, was concerned with controlling nature. Interpreting European painting often requires identifying an appropriate text. And aesthetic theory is much concerned with the relative advantages of pictures and texts. A text presents a narrative, and a picture can show but one moment of a developing action; but because a represented scene is more vivid than a written narrative, pictures may be more powerful than stories. Our texts and pictures thus are rivals.36 In China, however, words and images are not so far apart. Tao-chi speaks of the single brushstroke as “the origin of all existence, 34. “The Western artist, viewing space from a fixed standpoint . . . loses himself in infinity. His attitude is the attitude of a conqueror. . . . This general desire for the conquest and subjugation of nature has driven the Western mind to invention and discovery.” Tsung Paihwa, “Space-Consciousness in Chinese Art,” in Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics, ed. Zuo Liyuan and Gene Blocker (New York: Peter Lang, 1995), 49. 35. Craig Clunas, Superfluous Things: Material Culture and Social Status in Early Modern China (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991), 159. 36. James Cahill, Treasures of Asia: Chinese Painting (Lausanne: Skira, 1960), 55.

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the root of the myriad phenomena.” One might almost translate this as “In the beginning was the Brushstroke.” Physically making a picture is not so different from painting an image. And so words can be present within the picture space.37 Wu Hung argues that Chinese scrolls create a system of representation very unlike that of Western art. Just as the Navajo or Jain worldview is difficult for Westerners to reconstruct, so too we may need to work extremely hard to comprehend Chinese paintings. But it is not obvious that Hung’s argument is correct. He claims that we cannot understand scroll paintings without taking account of the viewer’s role. But Michael Fried and Leo Steinberg argue that many Western paintings also make implicit reference to the spectator.38 Alberti’s window, they claim, is not the whole story in Europe. Of course scroll paintings and European pictures are different. But if Fried’s and Steinberg’s analysis of spectators is taken seriously, then Hung’s account of Chinese painting may seem less exotic.39 Like Europe, China had an elaborate tradition of art writing. And Chinese art, like much Western art, is basically figurative. In obvious ways, Islamic art seems more exotic. Consider the plot structure of Islamic Art and Architecture, 650–1250 and The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250–1800.40 Historians of European art describe the development, perfection, and ultimate abandonment of naturalism. Historians of Islamic art tell a very different story.41 As newly prosperous 37. Gombrich describes the origin of representation. A hobbyhorse stands for a horse when a child plays with it. As the child’s toy hobbyhorse is a substitute for a horse, so European pictures look like what they represent. E. H. Gombrich, “Meditations on a Hobby Horse, or the Roots of Artistic Form,” in Meditations on a Hobby Horse and Other Essays on the Theory of Art (London: Phaidon, 1963), chap. 1. The Chinese ideogram, a visual structure and sound image, aims to transcend that opposition between words and pictures. “That the forms the artist paints are one way in which the Tao is made manifest, just as the forms of visible nature are another, accounts for the special correspondence that exists between painted forms and forms in nature. . . . This emphasis upon the divine origin of the visible forms may go far towards explaining the little value put upon originality in Chinese painting; for how can mere man originate anything?” Michael Sullivan, Chinese Landscape Painting, vol. 2, The Sui and T’ang Dynasties (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980), 19–20. Such writing is composed not of arbitrary signs but of natural representations. 38. See my “Painting and Its Spectators,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 46, no. 1 (1986): 5–17. 39. Hung does not mention Fried or Steinberg. 40. Richard Ettinghausen, Oleg Grabar, and Marilyn Jenkins-Madina, Islamic Art and Architecture, 650–1250 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001); Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom, The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250–1800 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994). 41. “Under the impact of the Christian world of the time, Islam sought official visual symbols of itself but could not develop representational ones because of the particular nature of images in the contemporary world.” Oleg Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), 98.

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heirs to an extremely rich artistic tradition, Muslims needed to incorporate and distance themselves from these ways of thinking. Neither the Europeans nor the Chinese faced exactly that problem. For some pious Muslims, “All life should be informed with the religious spirit; nowhere should be tolerated anything that could rival the Qur’an in evoking the deeper responses of the spirit. . . . So far as any art that is true to itself is not, in fact, a mere pleasing of the senses but evokes the whole spirit, all art was potentially a rival to the Qur’an, a subtle form of idolatry.”42 “In the courtly society,” a historian of Islam writes, “The surface of life was brilliant and decorative. . . . But set over against this tasteful surface was the deeper and more tumultuous realm of spiritual responsiveness. . . . For within almost every man or woman, even among the privileged, was a rebellious spirit inclined to smash all this elegance in the name of ultimate reality.”43 But of course many Christians thought of art in not dissimilar ways. Art writing also has a very different role in Islam. European art historians are Vasari’s heirs. European art history developed along with the art it describes. Historians extended Vasari’s basic model to include Poussin, Pissarro, and Pollock. We assume that ideally there is an intimate relationship between an artist’s way of thinking and the art historian’s commentary. Our interpretations of the art of Michelangelo and his predecessors in ways have a close relationship to how they themselves understood it. The Chinese think, it would seem, in similar ways. The situation of Islamic art is very different. We can only speculate, for example, about how weavers understood their carpet designs. But here again, we should not overemphasize cultural differences. Just as Muslims borrowed from Christian art forms, so European Christians, in turn, created their artistic tradition mostly from materials provided by pagan antiquity. And when Islam wrestled with iconoclasm, it dealt with issues much discussed also by Christians and Jews. Given the complex, close relationship between the Qur’an and the Christian and Hebrew Bibles, this overlap is unsurprising. Sometimes Islamic art seems exotic because so much of it is decorative. But as Gombrich’s The Sense of Order emphasizes, decoration is found in most human cultures. Art historians need to explain why Muslims were particularly concerned with decoration. But there is no reason to believe that Islamic decoration differs in kind from that made elsewhere.

42. Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization, vol. 1, The Classical Age of Islam (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974), 368. 43. Ibid., 359.

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Our World Art History Is Imperialism Seen Aesthetically

The sense that one’s culture is not a standard by which all others are to be measured, but merely one stance among many, is the essence of the reversal of will that is called postModernism, which relativizes all communities of taste. — t ho m a s m c e ville y

In his classic “Some Questions in Esthetics” Roger Fry tells how we can take an aesthetic attitude to anything, even an ordinary street scene. Walking to a gallery, when most of us look for the bus or a taxicab, artists may “have been preoccupied with distilling from their diverse visual sensations some vague sketches and adumbrations of possible harmonic combinations,” experiences like those they have within the gallery.1 Here Fry rehearses familiar ideas. In the late eighteenth century Kant described aesthetic experience of the heavens, great mountains, and the overpowering sea. And Ernst Jünger, an antidemocratic reactionary, responded aesthetically to the trench warfare of the Great War in Storm of Steel. To see something aesthetically is to detach yourself, as if you were viewing a work of art. We may take an aesthetic attitude toward street scenes, nature, and even brutal battles, looking at them as if they were works of art.2 And so we need to make a distinction between our experience of art, those artifacts made by artists, and things we see when taking this aesthetic attitude. What, then, is the difference between a work of art and an object seen aesthetically? Arthur Danto has shown that there need be no perceptual difference. Marcel Duchamp’s and Sherrie Levine’s readymades, Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box, Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits, and other late Modernist works of art are visually indistinguishable from banal 1. Roger Fry, “Some Questions in Esthetics,” in Transformations: Critical and Speculative Essays on Art (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1956), 8. 2. “Any object can become an aesthetic object if only aesthetic perception is turned on it.” George Dickie, Art and the Aesthetic: An Institutional Analysis (Ithaca: Cornell University Press), 57. Dickie summarizes this traditional doctrine, which he criticizes and modifies.

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things. Some abstract painters also create indiscernibles. Robert Mangold’s early shaped canvases are indistinguishable from everyday room dividers.3 And in the 1990s Sean Scully photographed humble dwellings, first in Morocco and then in other countries in the Americas and Europe.4 His frontal images, which a sociologist might use to illustrate a scholarly treatise called Urban Life of the Muslim Poor, are works of art thanks to their intimate visual relationship with his abstract paintings. Consider yet another pair of indiscernibles, our multicultural art historian’s diagram of the originally parallel, now converging traditions and that same chart taken to be a work of art. How dramatically they differ! The mere diagram simply tells the facts about cultural relations. Islamic art history began when Muslims conquered neighboring formerly Christian and Jewish cultures around the Mediterranean; when Buddhism migrated from India to China, new art forms were created; and so on. But viewed aesthetically, this chart has very different properties. Note, for example, the beautiful way that time lines of once distant cultures converge. We praise visual art for being economical, original, and suggestive. Our intersecting time lines certainly possess these properties. In indicating how once discrete traditions became conjoined, the chart very economically gathers a great deal of information. Adrian Stokes characterizes Piero della Francesca’s “forms as familiars.” “No form accepts sacrifice to the emphasis of another. Distributed by perspective they converse through spatial simultaneity, through their affinities that search it out.”5 So, too, our chart gives these diverse traditions equal recognition, showing their true relationships. Starting with Cubism, which transformed “remembered solids into a two-dimensional system,” so Leo Steinberg writes, simultaneity of point of view became a pressing concern of Modernist art.6 Our chart, similarly, exhibits the simultaneous relationships of geographically distinct traditions. It may seem relatively simple, but many visually simple works of art (Minimalist drawings, for example) require complex interpretations. Properly interpreted, our chart is pretty complex. Describing the contrast between a mere thing and a work of art, Danto argues that aesthetic theory distinguishes them. Scully’s photographs of Morocco are works of art, not sociological documents, because they are made by an artist, associated with his paintings, and displayed in galleries. Made by a sociologist, 3. See my “Robert Mangold’s Gray Window Wall,” Burlington Magazine 138 (1996): 826–28. 4. See my Sean Scully (London: Thames and Hudson, 2005), 164–66. 5. Adrian Stokes, The Critical Writings of Adrian Stokes, vol. 2, 1937–1958 (London: Thames and Hudson, 1978), 196. 6. Leo Steinberg, Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972), 155.

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they would have quite different meanings. We need to think about our diagram of world art history in a similar way. What distinguishes a mere chart illustrating the story of trade from a world art history? Our world art history depends upon European imperialism. When cultures were conquered or otherwise brought into the Western economy, their art entered European and American museums, and their styles of art-making could influence Western artists.7 Thanks to imperialism, Europe created narratives in art museums and world art histories. This “power to narrate,” Edward Said correctly says, “is very important to culture and imperialism, and constitutes one of the main connections between them.”8 Taking an aesthetic attitude involves bracketing moral concerns. And so aesthetically judging the visual qualities of our graph of world art history is compatible with the deepest remorseful regret about the events that made that convergence of traditions possible. The process by which Europeans circumnavigated the globe and conquered other continents was immensely destructive. Cultures were destroyed. An enormous number of lives were sacrificed. Imperialism was the necessary precondition for the creation of our world art history, but in viewing that history aesthetically, I am not contending that the means justified this end. You need not study history or go to museums to be aware of this problem. Today, as in the Renaissance, beautiful Islamic carpets decorate many Western houses.9 Poorly paid Muslims make these exquisite designs. But when we enjoy rugs, we should not forget that our aesthetic pleasure has a price.10 Art historians often employ Marxist theories. “Impressionism became very quickly the house style of the haute bourgeoisie, and there are ways in which its dissolution into the décor of Palm Springs and Park Avenue is well deserved.”11 What more damning judgment than this statement by the most influential living commentator? The 7. “The category of the aesthetic assumes the importance it does in modern Europe because in speaking of art it speaks of . . . other matters too, which are at the heart of the middle class’s struggle for political hegemony.” Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), 3. 8. Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), xiii. 9. “Weaving normally begins by passing a number of wefts to form a base to work on. The knots are then tied around consecutive sets of adjacent warps. . . . The fineness of the weave depends on the density of the knots. . . . Knot counts vary from sixteen to 500 and more per square inch.” Ian Bennett, ed., Rugs and Carpets of the World (London: Ferndale Editions, 1981), 12. 10. Political activists rightly criticize Americans for purchasing clothing made in sweatshops. Carpets raise exactly the same issue. But if wages of weavers were raised, then many consumers would turn to machine woven rugs. Ruskin discussed these questions. “All art is great, and good, and true, only so far as it is distinctively the work of manhood in its entire and highest sense; that is to say, not the work of limbs and fingers, but of the soul, aided, according to her necessities, by the interior powers.” John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice, vol. 3, The Fall, in The Works of John Ruskin, M.A. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, n.d.), 171. 11. T. J. Clark, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985), 267–68.

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impressionists were relatively privileged men and women.12 Carpets, by contrast, are made by children and poor women. Does that change how we should see them? Should it? Liberals hesitate to patronize businesses that are known to be exploitative. Why, then, do we hesitate to moralize about our carpets?13 It is morally obtuse to refuse to consider the suffering of weavers when decorating our houses. Trade always drove imperialism. Thanks to “capitalism’s restless search for markets,” Europeans traveled and traded everywhere, conquering exotic countries.14 In an obvious way, the expansion of art history from Vasari’s story focused on Tuscan art to our multicultural narrative is inseparable from that history. As capitalism seeks new markets, leaving no part of the world unexplored, so Western art history now looks to all cultures, interpreting exotic art in ways guided by its own precepts. Thanks to imperialism, the time lines describing originally separate traditions converge. Should historians then moralize? Insofar as our goal is to understand what happened, moralizing may be a distraction, or even superfluous. But, so it has plausibly been argued, the very act of writing history inescapably invokes a morality. If you understand imperialism as “the rise of the West,” you will enplot the story differently than if you call it “the destruction of traditional cultures.”15 Giving an equal number of words to China, Europe, India, and Islam presupposes that these cultures deserve equal attention. Not everyone agrees with this politically correct way of thinking, which is a reaction against older accounts of “the triumph of the West.” In his book with that title, J. M. Roberts allows that his way of thinking, once dominant, has become a minority position. “Whatever ills and uncertainities faced individuals, it seems to have been much easier to feel optimistic about society as a whole in 1900 than it is today.”16 Indeed, his subtitle, The Origin, Rise, and Legacy of Western Civilization, invokes an antediluvian way of thinking.17 Imperialism was 12. Most were privileged, but even Renoir, whose youth was difficult, eventually became financially successful; see Robert L. Herbert, Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988). 13. “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken, 1969), 256. 14. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983), 41. 15. See William H. McNeill, The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963). 16. J. M. Roberts, The Triumph of the West: The Origin, Rise, and Legacy of Western Civilization (London: Phoenix Press, 2001), 9. 17. “Was European colonial rule good or bad? The subject matter invites normative judgments, for at issue are the lives and livelihoods, the well-being and worldviews of hundreds of millions of human beings. . . . The good or bad question is deceptively simple.” David B. Abernethy, The Dynamics of

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intrinsically exploitative and involved many wrongs and much suffering, but it did ultimately often improve lives, both in material ways and by introducing Western standards of justice and human rights. Some historians think that because of those benefits, ultimately imperialism was a good thing. Others are convinced that on balance it was immoral.18 American art historians, who tend to be liberal leftists, mostly are convinced that imperialism was wrong.19 Sure that the expansion of Western power to other continents was part and parcel of an exploitative system, they tend to see its influence on other cultures as inescapably evil. Some earlier leftists, however, supported English imperialism. “Ultimately Marx bases his evaluation of European colonialism on . . . his view of the civilizing nature of capitalism derived from its capacity for universalization.”20 England’s imperialism, so Marx believed, would integrate India within the world market economy. Much of the literature by political historians adopts this point of view. In his pungent criticism of this tradition, Pierre Bourdieu writes: “Objectivism constitutes the social world as a spectacle presented to an observer who takes up a ‘point of view’ on the action, who stands back so as to observe it and, transferring into the object the principles of his relation to the object, conceives of it as a totality intended for cognition alone, in which all interactions are reduced to symbolic exchanges.”21 Following Nietzsche and Foucault, many recent commentators have denied that such an objective viewpoint is possible. The facts are accessible, but evaluating them is complex.22 Most liberals or leftists passionately believe in animal rights, democracy, feminism, gay rights, impartial judicial systems, and other Western institutions.23 Europeans have not Global Dominance: European Overseas Empires, 1415–1980 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 387. 18. It is possible both to allow that imperialism produced benefits in the past and to oppose it today. And someone might believe in imperialism while thinking that the present American Middle East adventure was ill-advised. 19. Tariq Ali and David Barsamian, Speaking of Empire and Resistance: Conversations of Tariq Ali (New York: New Press, 2005) is convincing. 20. Shlomo Avineri, The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971), 168, 169. 21. Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, trans. Richard Nice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 96. 22. If you blame imperialism for India’s famines before independence, then should you praise the Ford Foundation for the green revolution, which made India a food exporter? 23. These institutions probably exist only within prosperous cultures. If the prosperity of the West depends significantly upon imperialism, then what right have we to complain that poorer cultures lack our institutions? Having prospered in part at the expense of China and India, we cannot legitimately note that they as yet have been unable to create prosperous liberal societies. Liberals rightly observe that Stalin and Mao were murderous. But noting the obvious analogies with Cromwell’s English

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always supported these practices, but when they fail to do so they have failed as judged by their own standards. Around 1800, a Muslim visiting England was astonished by Parliament. “The English . . . unlike the Muslims, did not accept any divinely revealed holy law to guide them and regulate their lives.”24 What liberal Westerner really thinks this visitor was right?25 If imperialism exports liberal institutions, why should that not be a good thing? This, after all, is why Karl Marx defended French imperialism in Algeria.26 However we analyze the story of intervention in Afghanistan by the former USSR and the cynical response by the United States, few Westerners would praise the Taliban.27 Often arguments for imperialism are paternalistic.28 After other cultures obtain the benefits of European medicine and technology, they realize what they have missed. John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women (1869) argues against patriarchy. Because it is familiar, people think that patriarchy is natural. In fact, the nature of women is a product of unnatural repression.29 In this way, patriarchy is like feudalism and slavery. Just as in 1869, when The Subjection of Women was published, Englishmen looked back with regret to see how recently respectable opinion supported slavery, so in the near future, rational people would be astonished to discover how recently patriarchy had been accepted by all but a few radicals.30 Until feminism is put into practice, men and women will not know what they have been missing. At present, Mill allows, his vision of marriage among equals, with “similarity of powers and capacities with reciprocal Revolution and Robespierre’s French Revolution, we might become more hesitant to moralize. Modernization always was painful. That it took place earlier in the West merely means that our struggles lie in the relatively distant past. See Richard Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope (London: Penguin, 1999). 24. Bernard Lewis, “Legal and Historical Reflections on the Position of Muslim Populations Under Non-Muslim rule,” in Muslims in Europe: Social Change in Western Europe, ed. Bernard Lewis and Dominique Schnapper (London: Pinter, 1994), 1 25. Our Christian and Jewish fundamentalists would agree with this Muslim. 26. “All these nations of free barbarians look very proud, noble, and glorious at a distance, but only come near them and you will find that they, as well as the more civilized nations, are ruled by the lust of gain, and only employ ruder and more cruel means.” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Basic Writings on Politics and Philosophy, ed. Lewis S. Feuer (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor, 1959), 451. 27. See Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin, 2004). 28. Philosophers discuss paternalism, but it is not obvious how to extend their arguments to deal with imperialism. See Gerald Dworkin, “Paternalism,” in Philosophy of Law, ed. Joel Feinberg and Jules Coleman (Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2004), 293–303; and Douglas N. Husak, “Legal Paternalism,” in The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics, ed. Hugh LaFollette (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), chap. 15. 29. John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women, in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman/The Subjection of Women, by Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill (London: J. M. Dent, 1985), 238. 30. “The opinion in favour of the present system, which entirely subordinates the weaker sex to the stronger, rests upon theory only; for there never has been trial made of any other.” Ibid., 222.

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superiority in them—so that each can enjoy the luxury of looking up to the other, and can have alternately the pleasure of leading and of being led in the path of development,” is utopian, “the dream of an enthusiast.”31 And so he advocates radical change.32 Once someone has converted, he can look back on his former life with astonishment.33 Paintings showing Saul become Paul illustrate this process from the outside. It is harder to comprehend it from inside. A newborn Christian may be shocked to recall that recently she had very different values. When pagan, she could not anticipate her life as a Christian. Similarly, it might be argued, a culture that does not know animal rights, democracy, feminism, gay rights, an impartial judicial system, and other related institutions is missing something.34 That they do not complain as yet only shows their ignorance. What neutral perspective is possible?35 Islam destroyed many of the cultures it conquered, and drastically changed others, like Christian Spain and Hindu India. The aggressive Native American Aztecs and Mayas conquered their neighbors. And the Mongols and other tribes from central Asia repeatedly invaded China. These cultures created novel trading patterns.36 But only Europeans created technology permitting conquest of the entire world, and so allowing universal trade. “In the mid-1400s the Portuguese had no more than some fragile footholds in a number of Atlantic islands and on the littorals of 31. Ibid., 311. 32. “What marriage may be in the case of two persons of cultivated faculties, identical in opinions and purposes, between whom there exists that best kind of equality, similarity of powers and capacities with reciprocal superiority in them—so that each can enjoy the luxury of looking up to the other, and can have alternately the pleasure of leading and of being led in the path of development—I will not attempt to describe.” Ibid. 33. Walter Pater’s Marius the Epicurean describes conversion. See my “Baudelaire, Pater and the Origins of Modernism,” Comparative Criticism 17 (1995): 109–21. 34. Before 1984, no one missed cell phones; before 1950, no one noticed the absence of fax machines. But once this technology was available, everyone wanted it. This analogy brings out the difficulty of developing an objective perspective on moral change. Mill draws analogies between patriarchy and two earlier institutions that in his day were discredited, slavery and feudalism. At present only a minority of Westerners are vegetarians. But it is easy to imagine that in the relatively near future most of us will be as shocked that our ancestors ate meat as we, seeing 1950s movies, are to see that not long ago almost everyone smoked. 35. We find significant analogies in the concerns of art historians. Once we see Bonnard’s highpitched colors after becoming familiar with Mughal miniature painting, look at Matisse from the perspective provided by Sean Scully’s abstractions, or view Tantric paintings after seeing the art of Hilma af Klint and other Western devotees of theosophical ways of thinking, then earlier European paintings look different. But does this show that earlier perspectives were limited? 36. For six hundred years Muslims controlled the gold routes to the western Sudan. For most of the Middle Ages Sudanese gold was the main source of precious metal for the merchants of the Middle East and much of Europe. Yves Lacoste, Ibn Khaldun: The Birth of History and The Past of the Third World, trans. David Macey (London: Verso, 1984), 16.

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West and North-west Africa. Half a century later they had rounded the Cape of Good Hope, penetrated to India and . . . touched on the coast of Brazil, so laying the foundations for an empire which at its brief zenith stretched from South China to the backlands of Brazilian Motto Grosso.”37 European imperialism was unique in its ambitious destructiveness.38 Jawaharlal Nehru was highly ambivalent about the English bringing railways, telegraphs, and the radio to India.39 In so doing, they destroyed much of that culture’s traditions but also made possible national unity after independence. Some scholars argue that on balance imperialism was and is morally valuable.40 And the Indian American academic Deepak Lal believes that Western imperialism is on balance a good thing. “Empires have been natural throughout human history. Most people have lived in empires. Empires and the process of globalization associated with them have provided the order necessary for social and economic life to flourish.”41 The export of basically European institutions—democratic government, respect for human rights, feminism, gay rights, freedom of religion—surely has been a good thing. After the Holocaust, belief in progress has come to seem positively naïve. And yet who would deny that the end of footbinding in China and suttee in India were moral triumphs? And how many Western leftists think polygamy justified?42 “Your wives are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like, and send [something good] ahead for yourselves,” says the Qur’an.43 Muslim feminists face an uphill struggle. The Bible also contains many claims that embarrass present-day liberals. But whereas most Christians have long believed that their holy book was transcribed by mere men and so requires interpretation, 37. G. V. Scammell, The World Encompassed: The First European Maritime Empires, c. 800–1650 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1981), 225. 38. Should we be thankful that now that the world is one, writing this history is possible? Or regret that this unification was so painful? 39. “We should be grateful to them. But even these heralds of industrialism came to us primarily for the strengthening of British rule. . . . I am all in favor of industrialization and the latest methods of transport, but sometimes, as I rushed across the Indian plains, the railway, that life-giver, has almost seemed to me like iron bands confining and imprisoning India.” Quoted in Abernethy, The Dynamics of Global Dominance, 397. This inheritance included the system of state socialism, which hampered India’s economic development. Should we blame Marxism for holding back the development of India? 40. “I believe the world needs an effective liberal empire and that the United States is the best candidate for the job. Economic globalization is working. The rapid growth of per capita incomes in the world’s two most populous countries, China and India, means that international inequality is finally narrowing.” Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Price of America’s Empire (New York: Penguin, 2004), 301. 41. Deepak Lal, In Praise of Empires: Globalization and Order (New York: Palgrave, 2004), 205. 42. The Mormons were not allowed to practice polygamy. And so they adapted their theology. Perhaps American Muslims will do the same. 43. Qur’an 2:223. The edition I am quoting is The Qur’an, trans. M. A. S. Abdel Haleem (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 25.

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the Muslim belief that the Qur’an is the direct, untranslatable word of God makes revisionist commentary difficult. Thanks to bold, crude European adventurers, we now have the materials for a world art history. Traditional cultures, Western and non-Western, were not very curious about each other. In the early fifteenth century, Chinese sailors reached India and East Africa, but these voyages had no long-term influence. Cultures with better—that is to say, more militarily successful—worldviews got their rewards. Walking through a great museum looking at art from China, India, and the Islamic world is exhilarating. But mature reflection requires remembering that assembling these objects has been expensive. And so for the moralist, aesthetic pleasures need to be balanced against the necessary suffering.44 Thanks to history, this art is accessible to us. It is possible, perhaps, to worry too much about the story of how it was collected. In any case, it is arguable, those moral scruples are superfluous, for the history has happened, and now we have to deal with its consequences.45 Evaluating imperialism is not easy. And perhaps doing that is not ultimately relevant, for the art historian aims to explain the visual culture, not to moralize. Arthur Danto’s Connections to the World includes a diagram illustrating what he calls “the basic cognitive episode.”46 It has three interconnected elements: the world; its representations, which provide knowledge; and that subject who knows those representations. Connected to the world, we can act upon it. Every representation has both an object (what it is about) and a subject (who it is for). Let us apply Danto’s analysis to our chart of world art history. We represent the time lines of the four great high-art traditions, which are first parallel, and then converge. Who is the subject who knows this representation? The left-hand part of our diagram represents the cultures before they came into contact. Our graph shows that history looking back from our present point of view. Before 1492, no mortal could have seen how the world visual culture is connected. This is why world histories are sometimes thought to represent events from God’s point of view.47 44. Who would have the courage to do this calculation? Or the skill? 45. But often arguments about the past have implications for present-day political debates. 46. Arthur C. Danto, Connections to the World: The Basic Concepts of Philosophy (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997), xxii–xxiii. Cathy N. Davidson, 36 Views of Mount Fuji: On Finding Myself in Japan (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006) explains how, in learning about Japan, she also learned about America. 47. Arriving at this conclusion does not require invoking Hegel’s post-Christian theology. The history of art is concluded, and so we can look back from the perspective of our posthistorical era. You need not be an unbeliever in order to take this view of art’s history.

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Diagram 13  The style matrix

Multiculturalism matters, Danto suggests, because to be fully aware of your own culture, you need to know others. “One . . . would attain no consciousness of the quality of a life if one knew only one’s own. . . . Consciousness comes through contrasts with other forms of life or through changes in one’s own (it being no accident that the Father of History was a famous great traveler).”48 He offers a structural diagram that supports this argument.49 Let us chart the qualities of paintings in a style matrix. Works of art might be classified, for example, as follows: (A) done in ink; (B) painterly; (C) containing inscriptions in Arabic; and so on. A full chart for our world art history would be very elaborate. For our present purposes, a small sketch suffices. The style matrix indicates what kinds of art are possible (diagram 13). The first work of art on the list is a painterly ink painting with Arabic inscription, and the last, characterized merely negatively, is not painterly, not ink, and contains no Arabic. Danto was inspired in part, he has said, by “a kind of political vision that works of art were equal, in the sense that each artwork had the same number of stylistic qualities as any other.”50 His examples come from Europe, but it is very natural to extend the account to consider art from other cultures. Rudolf Arnheim anticipated the argument that exotic art teaches us about ourselves. “Humanness, which is common to us all, becomes something we can observe as detached viewers, thereby finding out something about ourselves. It broadens my awareness of what it is like to be human when I am permitted to watch the image of someone so different from myself.”51 So too did Wilhelm von Bode, 48. Arthur C. Danto, Narration and Knowledge (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 296. Danto is not discussing visual art. 49. See my Rosalind Krauss and American Philosophical Art Criticism: From Formalism to Beyond Postmodernism (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002), 44–46. Danto did not link the style matrix to historiography or multiculturalism. 50. Danto’s idea was that treating all European works of art as equal in this way is parallel to believing that all citizens deserve egalitarian treatment. See also his “Hegel’s End-of-Art Thesis,” in A New History of German Literature, ed. David E. Wellberry (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2004), 535–40. 51. Quoted in my “Rudolf Arnheim as Art Historian,” in Rudolf Arnheim: Revealing Vision, ed. K. Kleinman and L. Van Duzer (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997), 94.

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who in the late nineteenth century recognized the importance of Indian art because it had “the bold perception that the art of the whole world and of all periods is only a chapter of one single grammar.”52 We can construct a style matrix without developing a narrative history of exotic artistic traditions. All that is required is that we classify works of art. If we can set Chinese, European, Indian, and Islamic art in one chart, we need not worry about whether we can also provide narrative histories of all of these traditions.53 The literary scholar George Landow, who studies novel media, says: “We must abandon conceptual systems founded upon ideas of center, margin, hierarchy, and linearity and replace them with ones of multilinearity, nodes, links, and networks.”54 Our graph of the intersecting time lines displays the world history of art, showing what happened everywhere at every time. But we have only produced a picture. We know the facts about our world art history but not how to present them. Connecting the works of art into a narrative imposes a linear form on the historical facts. And our move from monocultural art histories, which employ one time line, to our multicultural story poses very challenging problems. Computer technology, which so swiftly connects the world, is ideally suited to representing this structure.55 We could, for example, present time lines for China, Europe, India, and the Islamic world as four chapters of a virtual book, allowing for swift movements between the representations of those four cultures.56 Danto never developed the style matrix, because he thought this ahistorical way of thinking ill-suited to art history, which seeks to explain change.57 We set 52. Klaus Brisch, introduction to The Arts of Islam: Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, exhibition catalogue (Berlin: Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, 1981), 18. And Herder anticipated this way of thinking in a vaguer way: “If history . . . were nothing but a description of an occurrence . . . then the first requirement is that the description be whole, exhaust the subject show it to us from all sides. Even the annalist, the writer of memoirs, is obligated to this completeness. . . . Hence a merely one-sided viewpoint is erroneous, a one-sided sketch of it useless.” Johann Gottfried von Herder, Philosophical Writings, trans. Michael  N. Forster (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 258. 53. Here I take issue with James Elkins, Stories of Art (New York: Routledge, 2002). This structural diagram provides an objective way to chart all of world art without appeal to Eurocentric time lines. 54. Hypertext 2.0, 2nd ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), 2. 55. Jared Bendis drew my attention to the way that The World Atlas of Art is very naturally suited to such use. John Onians, ed., The World Atlas of Art (London: Laurence King, 2004). 56. I lectured at the forum for the second Beijing Biennale, 2005. My title: “The World Is Now One.” I returned to America and reviewed the exhibition, sending digital images from Beijing to my editor at Tema Celeste in Milan. My review is “Second Beijing International,” Tema Celeste (January– February 2006): 108–9. 57. Hegel is a historicist, and so once Danto took a serious interest in Hegelian aesthetics, this antihistorical structuralist analysis seemed essentially irrelevant. On Hegel and structuralism, see François Dosse, History of Structuralism, trans. Deborah Glassman (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997). During history, we need a Hegelian theory of art, but in our posthistorical era, when history has ended, a structuralist analysis is appropriate. Danto has not developed that analysis. His early

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art on time lines in order to identify the real historical connections defining the stories of art in China, Europe, India, and the Islamic world. Now we effectively give up that concern, admitting that we don’t know how to link successive works of exotic art, in the way that, following Vasari, Hegel, Gombrich, and Greenberg, we tell the story of European art. Because that attempt to extend Western ways of thinking proved overly ambitious, we cannot explain change in the exotic art. But we can represent all four traditions on our graph. And looking at the period before the time lines converge, we study a period whose history is closed. Here the style matrix will suit us. For the structuralist, each element is significant in relation to the whole system. Dramatically shifting the form of our investigation, we provide a full representation, though not a proper history of world art.58 We value contact with other cultures because their art is intrinsically interesting. And we care about exotic art because by learning about it, we also learn about our culture. If you are not prepared to learn from other cultures, then you will remain intellectually provincial. All cultures ultimately are part of a whole, every part of which has value because each culture contributes essential elements to that larger structure. The Hindu shrine “is not conceived like a western shrine as a space-filled structure—an open, articulated environment within which men fulfil their religious duties. The internal volumes of an Indian temple are relatively small . . . these structures have relatively small internal volumes compared with the exterior mass of the fabric, which is formed of a solid pile of masonry upon which sculptors have carved a luxuriant wealth of decoration.”59 Seeing these shrines helps you to better view, by contrast, European churches. “Indian sculpture tends to be additive, whereas in Western Hellenizing art all sorts of systems of smaller units relating to bone structure, musculature, and fleshfolds were developed. . . . All the units of form into which the surfaces of Indian sculptures are divided are convex. . . . Nowhere . . . in the whole fabric of Indian sculpture do concavities appear, treated as formal units as they are by Donatello, Michelangelo or the artists of Gothic Europe.”60 This analysis explains why early European travelers found Hindu art hard to understand. “To the

allusion to structuralism reflected the intellectual culture of the late 1960s and did not become part of his lasting concerns. 58. American museums display art without having some theory supporting that practice. China, India, and Islam, like Europe, created interesting visual artifacts. 59. Philip Rawson, Indian Sculpture (London: Studio Vista, 1966), 22–23. See also Diana L. Eck, Darsán: Seeing the Divine Image in India (Chambersburg, Pa.: Anima Books, 1985). 60. Rawson, Indian Sculpture, 98, 100.

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critical Western eye this absence of concavities and, most of all, the absence of a multitude of inflexions in the outer surface . . . are disturbing. . . . Because of the adherence of Indian sculpture to the ground, the conceptualization of the empty, negative spaces between figures and parts of figures became an important compositional feature.”61 In learning to see Hindu art, we attain new awareness of European sculpture.62 It would be instructive to display European and Hindu sculptures side by side, for then we could focus on such comparisons. Biologists argue that it is a mistake to let living species become extinct, for we do not know what useful or intellectually challenging properties they might have. The same is true of the many civilizations whose artifacts are preserved in our museums. “The Chinese, among all peoples ancient and recent, primitive and modern, are apparently unique in having no creation myth, that is, they have regarded the world and humans as uncreated, as constituting the central features of a spontaneously self-generating cosmos having no creator, god, ultimate cause or will external to itself.”63 Did China not exist, what Christian could have deduced a priori the possibility of such a culture? Chinese visual art deserves our attention, for it allows us to contrast the art made by peoples who have creation myths. This generous way of thinking explains why multiculturalism is not merely an expedient way of smoothing over social conflicts. Just as a person who knows too little about art, literature, and philosophy has an impoverished life, so the same is true of a culture whose visual interests are parochial. This argument invokes a promissory note. If we juxtapose art of other cultures, we find that it helps us understand ours. As yet, however, this note has not been cashed.64 Our museums usually display art from different cultures in separate galleries. But imagine setting Chinese and European landscape paintings together, juxtaposing Indian and European sculptures, or contrasting Islamic and Native American decorative art. A world art history offers us the chance to better understand both other cultures and our own. That is an exciting prospect.

61. Ibid., 103. 62. “We have learned to accept and read sculptural thought in many dialects of the language of sculpture” because starting around 1880 tribal arts were introduced to Western artists. Philip Rawson, Sculpture (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997), 2. 63. Frederick W. Mote, Intellectual Foundations of China (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989), 13. 64. Suppose that after exhaustive investigation we find that the art of other cultures contributes little to our aesthetic experience. Not much will have been lost for art history. Imagine, rather, that we destroy this art without studying it. Then we shall never know what we might have missed.

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India was rescued from Prehistory by her own historians and ushered by them across the border into World-history. This was a momentous crossing. Viewed from one side of that border, it was a passage from myth to history, from fantasy to reason. Viewed from the other side, it could be seen as a shift from a particular paradigm of storytelling to another. — r a na j it gu ha

“Unlike those of us who have the whole novel before us,” Arthur Danto writes, “the philosopher of history does not have before him the whole of history. He has at best a fragment—the whole past.”1 The art historian looking back at the world history of art thus resembles the famous angel in Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus, as seen by Walter Benjamin. “This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees a single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet.”2 “The meanings of historical events,” Danto notes, “are invisible to those who live through them.”3 As he is blown toward the future, this angel looks backward. “Historical materialism wishes to retain that image of the past which unexpectedly appears to man singled out by history at a moment of danger.”4 Klee’s angel illustrates Benjamin’s very personal JewishMarxist vision of history. What, by contrast, are the political implications of our multicultural art history? Does our world art history provide ways to bring peoples together? Eurocentricism was arrogant, for it judged all art by one Western standard. Once we 1. Arthur C. Danto, Narration and Knowledge (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 8 2. Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken, 1969), 257. See my “Walter Benjamin as Art Critic,” in Art Criticism Since 1900, ed. Malcolm Gee (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993), 22–37. 3. Arthur C. Danto, The Abuse of Beauty: Aesthetics and the Concept of Art (Chicago: Open Court, 2003), xvii. 4. Benjamin, Illuminations, 255.

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recognize that exotic art has its own distinct values, then we have moved some distance toward mutual understanding. This analysis has much to commend it. Nowadays art historians seek to describe art from all cultures, and our museums collect artifacts from all visual cultures. And so we look back with astonishment and dismay at the narrow tastes of our ancestors. Advancing beyond their monolithic way of thinking, multicultural art history exemplifies mutual respect. When we display art from all cultures and narrate a world art history, we show respect. Recognizing that the art of China, India, and the Islamic world differs from ours, we aim to interpret it on its own terms, without imposing our ways of thinking. Reciprocity means that I acknowledge you as you, in turn, acknowledge me. “I see you seeing me see you,” to speak in visual terms. A breathlessly quick sketch of the heritage running from Descartes to Hegel, the subject of elaborate study by historians of philosophy, will launch our analysis. For Descartes, the problem of knowledge is achieving contact with the external world. After working through the skeptical arguments, he demonstrates that we can be confident that what we perceive actually exists. European philosophy elaborates and modifies this analysis. Then Hegel introduces in his Phenomenology of Mind (1807) a quite different concern, the social basis of knowledge. Modern ways of understanding, he argues, cannot be understood apart from a historical investigation.”Self-consciousness exists in and for itself when, and by the fact that, it so exists for another; that is, it exists only in being acknowledged. . . . Self-consciousness is faced by another self-consciousness; it has come out of itself.” 5 In obscure language, Hegel presents a dazzlingly clear idea. To properly understand yourself, you need to be recognized by others. Self and other thus are essentially linked together.6 The slave works and the master appropriates the products of his labor. The master might seem to have the better situation, but in Hegel’s dialectic the slave learns by working to recognize himself in the products of his labor. The master, by contrast, fails to achieve selfrecognition. Hegel’s account influenced Karl Marx, who linked alienated labor to class struggle. And it finds echoes in Nietzsche’s polemic against Christian slave morality and in Sartre’s account of consciousness.7 5. Hegel, quoted in Hegel’s Dialectic of Desire and Recognition: Texts and Commentary, ed. John O’Neill (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996), 29. See also Robert R. Williams, Hegel’s Ethics of Recognition (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997), 48–52l and Jean Hyppolite, Genèse et structure de la phénoménologie de l’esprit de Hegel (Paris: Augier, 1946), chap. 3. 6. The relationship of Hegel’s conceptual analysis to the historical facts is difficult to pin down. 7. “To see someone as looking at me is not just to see his eyes. . . . in perceiving an eye as looking, I perceive myself as a possible object for that look.” Arthur D. Danto, Jean-Paul Sartre (New York: Viking Press, 1975), 121.

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Although Hegel hardly envisaged the dilemmas of multicultural society, his discussion of self and other is highly relevant to our present debates. In a multicultural society people with different values and worldviews coexist, and we are curious about other peoples.8 Mutual recognition requires acknowledgment of difference. Your values and worldview differ from mine, but I find value in yours, not insofar as they overlap with mine, but because they sustain your way of life, which I think has value. And because I respect you, I believe that you too deserve a voice in our political system. The goal, then, of a theory of justice is to find ways to express our reasonable differences. Jürgen Habermas offers a detailed history of the emergence of secular liberalism developing this way of thinking. “I value myself because you recognize me, and vice-versa. Each thus becomes vulnerable to the other and . . . each develops a motive to protect oneself by limiting the ways in which one exposes oneself to the other.”9 He links his discussion with visual art.10 A suggestive visual representation appears in Giotto’s Betrayal of Christ in the Arena Chapel, Padua, in which Christ and Judas face one another (fig. 9). “The inwardness of Giotto’s image of the fateful encounter of two men who look into each other’s eyes and in that instant reveal the souls. . . . It is perhaps the first example of a painting in which the reciprocal subjective relations of an I and a You have been made visible through the confrontation of two profiles.”11 Long before Hegel, a painter depicted mutual recognition. Habermas describes museums, part of what he calls “the bourgeois public sphere,” that is, “the sphere of private people come together as a public,” where they can engage in “debate over the general rules governing relations in the basically privatized but publicly relevant sphere of commodity exchange and social labor.”12 And so it is revealing that the contemporary artist who attracts his admiration is Sean Scully, who, so he says, “keeps painting as if modernity, which has 8. “A human being who cannot understand what any other human being says is scarcely a human being; he is pronounced abnormal. To the extent to which there is normality, and communication, there are common values.” Isaiah Berlin, The Roots of Romanticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 145. 9. J. Donald Moon, “Practical Discourse and Communicative Ethics,” in The Cambridge Companion to Habermas, ed. Stephen K. White (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 155. 10. “Like the concert and the theater,” he writes, “museums institutionalized the lay judgment on art: discussion became the medium through which people appropriated art.” Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1989), 40. 11. Meyer Schapiro, Words and Images: On the Literal and the Symbolic in the Illustration of a Text (The Hague: Mouton, 1973), 46. See my Artwriting (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987), 42–47. 12. Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, 27.

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Fig. 9  Giotto di Bondone, Betrayal of Christ, 1304–6. Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy.

been shaky for a long time, continues to rest on solid ground. Scully succeeds in persevering with a modernity that has been transformed into a tradition, and he does this without relapse.”13 Scully is, Habermas rightly says, “a traditionalist of a peculiar kind.” The philosophers and art historians championing a world art history, it might be said, also are traditionalists of a peculiar kind. Just as Scully preserves a Western tradition of painting by radical innovation, so these scholars keep alive characteristically European ways of thinking about politics.14 Our discussion of exotic aesthetics drew attention to the ultimate limits of traditional ways of writing art’s histories. As yet we do not know how to narrate the story of art in China, India, and the Islamic world. Danto’s structural 13. Jürgen Habermas, “A Modernism That Turned into a Tradition: Glosses and Associations,” in Sean Scully: Body of Light, exhibition catalogue (Canberra: National Gallery of Australia, 2004), 64. 14. Scully’s paintings coexist with a great deal of very different visual art—installations, videos, and Postmodernism. But in politics, someone must rule.

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diagram does not provide us with a history. Exotic art resists our Western conceptual frameworks. Chinese, Indian, and Muslim artists did not make art to be discussed in our world art histories and placed in our museums.15 Like the art museum, the world art history is an essentially Western creation. And so we need to acknowledge that while displaying and studying exotic art is an act of tolerance, it also looks like cultural imperialism. Sometimes people say that showing respect to other cultures by displaying their art will promote tolerance. Were this correct, it would give reason to fund our museums. But I think this conclusion prematurely optimistic.16 To want your art to be shown in Western museums, like engaging in a Habermasian conversation, presupposes that you seek mutual recognition. But many traditional cultures do not. If you are convinced that someone’s starting point is unpromising, then talking is pointless. Astronomers do not think that they have anything to gain from astrologers, and chemists do not expect to learn from alchemists. And medieval Westerners did not engage in genuine debate with Jews or Muslims.17 Desiring conversation presupposes that you may have something to learn, or at least are curious. Another, totally opposed reaction to the interest of others in your culture is: “Leave us alone.” Some Muslims legitimately take this view.18 For forty years the Philadelphia Museum of Art displayed Rogier van der Weyden’s The Crucifixion, with the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist Mourning among its European paintings (fig. 10).19 Then in 1993 that masterpiece was 15. Nor did European artists have this goal until relatively recently. But Westerners worked within the tradition that eventually created the art museum. 16. The practice of multiculturalism is radically different from tolerance. Some premodern theoretic cultures chose to be tolerant of minorities. Some European rulers tolerated Jews. In Venice Jews and other foreigners were allowed. And of course often Muslims permitted Christians, Hindus, and others to practice their religion, merely penalizing nonbelievers with a tax. Islam is sometimes praised for its tolerance. Compared with most medieval Christians, the Muslim rulers were generous. But in a modern multicultural society, minorities do not merely have rights as minorities, but participate fully in the political life. America is not a Christian country that tolerates atheists, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims. It is a secular culture allowing all of these diverse people to express themselves freely. That, at least, is the ideal. 17. There were ritualized debates with Jews, but the aim was to defeat and humiliate opponents, not to learn from them. 18. Is this irrational? Once conversation begins, preserving your culture may be difficult. People in the dominant society sometimes have a hard time understanding this problem. But we do not think that dialogue with the Islamic world will result in our becoming Muslims. Nor, when we tell the Chinese to promote religious freedom, do we think that we might instead learn from them to limit personal rights. These are not genuine dialogues. See Stanley Fish, “Boutique Multiculturalism,” in Multiculturalism and American Democracy, ed. A. Melzer, J. Weinberger, and R. Zonman (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998), 69–88. 19. Report of the Director, in Philadelphia Museum of Art, Annual Report, 1994, 11–12.

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Fig. 10  Rogier van der Weyden, The Crucifixion, with the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist Mourning, 1460–65. Philadelphia Museum of Art.

reinstalled framed between two magnificent large Islamic carpets hung on the walls. The reds in these textiles pick up the background colors of this diptych, creating a most satisfying aesthetic relationship, but there is no connection between the artistic concerns of the Flemish artist and the Muslim weavers. Van der Weyden did not paint for the art museum, but he worked within a long European tradition, which, by the mid-nineteenth century, led ambitious painters to think of the art museum as the natural destination for their art. Downstairs in Philadelphia magnificent pictures by Matisse, Brice Marden, and Cy Twombly extend that heritage. By contrast, to put carpets next to The Crucifixion is to use them in ways that have nothing to do with their intended purpose. Respectful of all cultures, we seek to understand non-Europeans (and our own Christian ancestors) on their own terms without imposing our ways of thinking. Does this comparison between the Renaissance painting and the carpets displayed in the Philadelphia Museum show that we have progressed? Works of art expressing the values of these often conflicted religious traditions coexist in our museums and art galleries. They do so, however, displayed on our terms. In Philadelphia the carpets, hung on the wall, not laid on the floor, frame a Flemish painting. These Islamic artifacts thus become works of art in

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an institution that is a European creation. Today, as in Renaissance representations of carpets within paintings, we use art from outside Europe to express our values.20 Once examined critically, the belief that display of art from all cultures promotes mutual respect becomes problematic. We secularize art by the Chinese, the Indians, and the Muslims, assimilating it to the art we know. But like medieval Christians, these cultures did not make art to be shown in museums or represented in our world art history. Premodern exotic artists could not have imagined these modern Western institutions. Here we get to the problems of paternalism.21 I do something for you that you don’t want, justifying my action by saying that it is for your own good. If only you knew more, I argue, you would agree with my action. You walk into the street in front of an approaching car, so I pull you back. You want to survive, I believe, and so since there is no time to warn you, I act in your best interests. Traditionally Christians reasoned similarly. Because they believed that everyone wanted to be saved, they tried to convert nonbelievers. Exotic peoples did not want to be converted. But after converting, believers are thankful for their changed lives. Nowadays, analogously, we export capitalism, thinking that once exotic peoples adopt our system, they will be thankful. But after your ways of thinking are so dramatically changed, how can we legitimately compare your past and present lives? After Western-style art museums are created, exotic art takes its place in a world art history. Suppose that the Chinese, Indians, and Muslims are pleased at the way that their visual cultures are respected. Does this show that they really wanted museums or only that they have been affected by the West? That question is impossible to answer. After Saul became Saint Paul, what objective perspective on his previous life was possible? Conversion is hard to understand because it is a dramatic, essentially discontinuous change. The representations of carpets in Renaissance European paintings we examined in the overture provide one image of multiculturalism. They show coexisting visual cultures. Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas (1570–76) (fig.  11) offers a very different picture. Apollo and Marsyas held a musical contest, with the winner to choose his reward. Apollo won and chose that Marsyas be flayed alive. In the painting, in order to prolong the torture, water is poured onto Marsyas. A dog 20. “Relativism is simply not viable as a social or political attitude. For one thing, it offends against the very cultures whose equality it wishes to establish. . . . They . . . at least (those prone to ‘fundamentalism’) would vehemently, and rightly, repudiate any attempt to reinterpret their own convictions in a relativist spirit. They mean what they believe” (emphasis in original). Ernest Gellner, Postmodernism, Reason and Religion (London: Routledge, 1992), 71. 21. See Douglas N. Husak, “Legal Paternalism,” in The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics, ed. Hugh LaFollette (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), chap. 15.

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laps up his dripping blood. “Apollo, pressed up against the great hulk of his prey, stares into the exposed flesh with such intensity as to suggest that his desire is to envelop himself in the creature that he dismembers.”22 Erwin Panofsky, who had not seen the picture, questioned the attribution. This “gratuitous brutality” was, he felt, foreign to Titian, as was the horror vacui of a picture in which “no square inch is vacant.”23 How revealing that he expresses his distaste by using a phrase often employed to describe Islamic art. Sydney Freedberg first described the picture in a formal way. “In this intensely present yet immeasurable world the enactment and the actors seem to make time as well as space coalesce, and it is uncertain whether they are being conjured into now from mythical antiquity or persons from the present, almost caricatures, in antiquarian disguise.”24 Then he sharpens his analysis. The precedents, Ovid’s telling of the story and Giulio Romano’s drawing, do not explain why Titian painted a ghastly subject on this grand scale. And so Freedberg looks to “an immediate contemporary event.”25 In 1570 the Turks laid siege to a Venetian stronghold on Cypus, and after prolonged struggle the Venetian admiral Marcantonio surrendered and was flayed alive by the Turks. His stuffed skin was taken to the sultan. “The enactment and the actors make time as well as space coalesce, and we cannot tell if they are beings conjured into now from mythical antiquity or persons from Titian’s present, cast in antiquarian disguise.”26 Titian, Freedberg suggests, offers a very personal response to recent history.27 In ways Freedberg could not have envisaged twenty years ago, his interpretation of The Flaying of Marsyas speaks to our present concerns. Today, as in Titian’s time, Islam and the West are locked in violent conflict. In a challenging revisionist history, Jerry Brotton argues that the presence of Islamic culture was “central to creating the spirit of the Renaissance.”28 Responding to the earlier 22. Richard Wollheim, Painting as an Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 327. 23. Erwin Panofsky, Problems in Titian: Mostly Iconographic (New York: New York University Press, 1969), 171n85. 24. S. J. Freedberg, Painting in Italy, 1500 to 1600 (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1971), 352. 25. S. J. Freedberg, “Titian and Marsyas,” FMR 1, no. 4 (1984): 56. 26. Ibid., 64. 27. Freedberg offers no evidence to support his interpretation when he links an old master painting to contemporary politics. For discussion of such interpretations ,see my “The Political Art of Jacques-Louis David and His Modern Day American Successors,” Art History 26, no. 5 (2003): 730–51. On the political background, see Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, trans. Siân Reynolds, 2 vols. (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), vol. 2, chap. 4; and Gregory Hanlon, Early Modern Italy, 1550–1800: Three Seasons in European History (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), chap. 13. 28. Jerry Brotton, The Renaissance Bazaar: From the Silk Road to Michelangelo (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

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Fig. 11  Titian, The Flaying of Marsyas, 1570–76. Archbishop’s Palace, Kromeriz, Czech Republic.

Eurocentric accounts, which treat that event as purely Western, he looks closely at links to other cultures. I admire his politics, while remaining unconvinced. Perhaps, as Brotton says, “there were no clear geographical or political barriers between east and west in the 15th century.”29 But there surely were artistic barriers. Saint Mark Preaching and The Reception of the Ambassadors depict the Muslim world in a distinctively European style. Although Renaissance Europeans greatly admired Islamic carpets, in their paintings these works of art were set within a European system of perspective. 29. Ibid., 53. Also see Oleg Grabar, “Trade with the East and the Influence of Islamic Art on the ‘Luxury Arts’ in the West,” in Il medio oriente d ‘occidente nell’arte del xii secolo, ed. Hans Belting (Bologna: Cooperativa Libraria Universitaria, 1979), 11–34.

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Renaissance paintings incorporate these carpets by Muslims. The carpet on the floor and the deep space shown in the painting really come from two very distinct visual worlds. European paintings did not begin to be treated aesthetically within public museums until around 1750, but if we think of paintings depicting Islamic carpets as the first museums of art, then we have one way of understanding them. Long before Europeans created art museums, they believed that exotic visual artifacts deserved aesthetic respect. And nowadays our scholars study the history, literatures, and religion of the Muslims. But today, as in the Renaissance, we use their carpets to suit our needs. Here, then, we find the limits of the ideal of mutual respect. Imagine a Chinese, Indian, or Muslim reader of this book—not an art historian, for they are naturally predisposed to look to the West for support and recognition. No, let us envisage a Chinese, Indian, or Muslim. Describing a world art history, I seek to place art from China, India, and Islamic culture within our Western narratives. But this exotic scholar might legitimately reject this whole way of thinking, thinking my well-intentioned argument just the latest, most invasive exercise in European imperialism. There is nothing crazy or silly or wrongheaded in resisting my call for mutual respect. My book does not offer a knockdown argument that any rational person must accept. Someone who sought to preserve his or her culture could legitimately refuse to accept my analysis.30 Were this, then, the whole story, we would conclude on a very pessimistic note. But there is, happily, one more turn to the argument. Let us consider, in a frankly utopian way, how scholars in exotic cultures might respond, on their own terms, to European art, and teach us how to better understand our tradition as they turn their gaze on the West.

30. Imagine some extremely isolated country, like Tibet before 1950, that is urged to accept the benefits of Western medicine. It would not be irrational to reject such aid. People think that their culture has a sense of community and a distinctive religious worldview. And they believe that they are better off even if the consequence is that they have shorter, less healthy lives.

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Conclusion: The Coming Transformation of Western Art History

The Arabian fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet. — edw a r d gibbo n

Like people, languages, political institutions, religions, and scientific theories migrate. When they do, usually they are transformed, often dramatically. Political worldviews also migrate and are transformed. Mao’s sinification of Marxism was anticipated by Taiping Christianity, the nineteenth-century rebellion, which marked one chapter in China’s long struggle to assimilate and master external cultural influences.1 Nowadays every American city has Chinese and Indian restaurants, serving cuisine that has only a family resemblance to the indigenous cuisine of these cultures. And America’s fast food, like our pop music and films, is exported. In Germany, McDonald’s serves beer. In tea-drinking China, Starbucks sells coffee. Bollywood recreates Hollywood in very distinctively Indian terms, and Hindu rock groups mimic Western mtv. And thanks to migration, spoken American English is transformed. Western-style democracy, gay culture, and human rights defenders appear in most cultures; colleges copy models originating in England and Germany and developed in the United States. “No longer does the logos dwell exclusively, as it were, in London and Paris.”2 Scientific and mathematical discoveries, manufacturing and farming techniques, and also, 1. John King Fairbank, China: A New History (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), 325. See also ibid., 75: “The early Buddhist missionaries ran into the problem that has faced all purveyors of foreign ideas in China ever since: how to select certain Chinese terms . . . and invest them with new significance without letting the foreign ideas be subtly modified, in fact sinified, in the process.” See also Pamela Kyle Crowley, “The Historiography of Modern China,” in Companion to Historiography, ed. Michael Bentley (London: Routledge, 1997), chap. 24. 2. Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), 244.

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alas, military technology readily transfer from one culture to another. Muslim mathematical discoveries, the Chinese invention of paper, and European gun technology contributed to a common stock of knowledge. Western art history too migrates.3 When it is translated, how will it be transformed? Earlier we quoted Dipesh Chakrabarty. After noting that “all . . . other histories tend to become variations on a master narrative that could be called ‘the history of Europe,’” he asks: “Why cannot we . . . return the gaze?”4 Here is a speculative answer to that question. Let us imagine how Chinese, Indian, or Muslim scholars might write about our art. Normally historians explain what happened. But it may also be instructive to consider what might have been.5 Suppose that in the 1420s Admiral Zheng’s large fleet had continued along the coast of East Africa and gone on to Europe. Columbus’s arrival in America had an immediate devastating effect on the native population. At this time China was the obviously superior civilization.6 In China his presence would scarcely have made a ripple. Historians are much concerned to understand why capitalism developed in Europe and why that culture then proceeded to conquer all others. China was, arguably, the first country where the preconditions for capitalism developed.7 For a long time it was more prosperous than Europe and had better science.8 Why then did capitalism not develop?9 Why, we might also ask, did capitalism not develop in the Islamic world?10 Or perhaps capitalism 3. Books by Heinrich Wölfflin and Norman Bryson, and also my Principles of Art History Writing, have been translated. 4. Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History: Who Speaks for ‘Indian’ Pasts?” in A Subaltern Studies Reader, 1986–1995, ed. Ranajit Guba (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 263, 265. 5. See Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals, ed. Niall Ferguson (New York: Basic Books, 1999). 6. “Had Christopher Columbus sailed around the Americans  . . . and reached China  . . . the Chinese court surely would have regarded as preposterous his claim to represent a superior (or even an equal) power.” Frederick W. Mote, “China in the Age of Columbus,” in Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration, ed. Jay A. Levenson, exhibition catalogue (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1992), 347. 7. S. A. M. Adshead, T’ang China: The Rise of the East in World History. (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 91. Compare the skeptical view of John Fairbank: “Capitalism failed to prosper in China because the merchant was never able to become established outside the control of the landlord gentry and their representatives in the bureaucracy.” Fairbank, China, 180. 8. See William Atwell, “Ming China and the Emerging World Economy, c. 1470–1650,” in The Cambridge History of China, ed. Denis Twitchett and Frederick  W. Mote (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), chap. 8. 9. See Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, vol.  7, pt.  2, General Conclusions and Reflections, with the collaboration of Kenneth Girdwood Robinson and Ray Huang (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). 10. “I like to imagine what would have happened had the Arabs won at Poitiers and gone on to conquer and Islamise Europe. No doubt we should all be admiring Ibn Weber’s The Kharejite Ethic

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might have developed in India, which was prosperous and was much involved with trading. Vasari’s Lives focus on Tuscan architecture, painting, and sculpture created by artists from this relatively small part of Italy. Nowadays you can have a late breakfast in Florence and still reach Vasari’s hometown, Arezzo, for an early lunch. In Vasari’s time this was a longer journey. Florence creates the best art, he explains, because her artists have to be ferociously competitive.11 Vasari dismisses art before Cimabue and has only qualified praise for the great Venetians; he quotes Michelangelo’s judgment about Titian, that “it was a pity that in Venice men did not learn to draw well from the beginning.” And he devotes relatively few words to Jan van Eyck and Flemish painting.12 As we have seen, the history of Western art history since Vasari is the story of relentless expansion of the basic narrative he developed. Medieval European art, Baroque art, and Modernism, and then painting and sculpture from all societies, became legitimate objects of study. And so they all were fitted on a monocultural time line extending his. Like European imperialism, with which it is very closely connected, art history has dramatically expanded. As Western businesses, political institutions, and cultural institutions are now found almost everywhere, so art historians study every visual culture. Very often Western art historians denounce our Eurocentricism and our cultural imperialism. In doing so, they can draw upon European sources because the West has so long been ferociously self-critical.13 Consider Nietzsche’s critique of Christianity; Foucault’s attack on Enlightenment belief in progress; Jacques Derrida’s dismantling of Western logocentricism; Pierre Bourdeau’s rejection of objectivity of taste; and Luce Irigaray’s genealogy of patriarchy. As Nietzsche says, “’It is this rigor if anything that makes us good Europeans and the heirs of Europe’s longest and bravest self-overcoming.’”14 We can afford to be self-critical and the Spirit of Capitalism which would conclusively demonstrate how the modern rational spirit and its expression in business and bureaucratic organisation could only have arisen in consequence of the sixteenth-century neo-Kharejite puritanism in northern Europe.” Ernest Gellner, Muslim Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 7. See also Michael Cook, “Weber and Islamic Sects,” in Studies in the Origins of Early Islamic Culture and Tradition (Alderhot: Ashgate, 2004), chap. 6. 11. “The territory of Florence is not so wide or abundant as to enable her to support at little cost all who live there, as can be done in countries that are rich enough.” Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, trans. Gaston du C. de Vere, 2 vols. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), 1:584. 12. Ibid., 2:791. 13. We are good at being self-critical because many of our actions and institutions deserve very serious criticism. 14. Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, trans. Walter Kaufmann and R.  J.  Hollingdale (New York: Vintage Books, 1967), 161 (emphasis in original).

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because for some time we have been dominant. It is hard to imagine a world art history starting in other cultures. Neither in India nor in the world of Islam was there anyone like Vasari. China did have many important art writers, but it is not easy to imagine how Chinese ways of thinking could have been exported.15 Wen Fong argues “that the true value of Chinese painting lies in its own special visual language and its unique form of expressivity.”16 Chinese-born, now an American professor, he discusses the art of China, but his theorizing comes from Western writers—Hans Belting, Norman Bryson, Michel Foucault, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Ernst Gombrich, Friedrich Nietzsche, Donald Preziosi, Leo Steinberg, and David Summers. Craig Clunas complains, quite legitimately, about the long history of European misreadings of Chinese art. “The Western tradition of viewing and understanding, at least until very recently, seeks to ground the meaning in the objects viewed, to see it as a container for the meaning poured into it at the time of manufacture.”17 But his polemic is grounded in contemporary Western theories. When, for example, he calls one chapter of his book, “somewhat flippantly,” he admits, “The Work of Art in the Age of Woodblock Reproduction,” alluding to Walter Benjamin’s famous essay, then this problem is obvious.18 Benjamin did not discuss Chinese art, but his ideas help make Clunas’s argument accessible to Western scholars. In her history of the institutions of Indian art history, similarly, Tapati Guha-Thakurta very convincingly identifies the many ways in which importation of Western models has misguided commentators.19 But here again, as the footnotes make clear, the methodology comes entirely from the West, Foucault being her essential source. The content of these histories comes from outside Europe, but their form, the theorizing used to shape the analysis, is entirely European. As several generations ago anticolonial activists appealed to Marxism—aware that Karl Marx himself, a supporter of colonialism, knew little about cultures outside of Europe—so nowadays historians discussing art from outside Europe employ 15. Such might-have-beens are hard to imagine. In 1966 C. B. Macpherson wrote: “We are in for a long contest for power and influence between West and East, between capitalism and communism.” C. B. Macpherson, The Real World of Democracy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 65. When a sophisticated political theorist can make such a disastrous short-range prediction, who has confidence in our prophecies? 16. Wen C. Fong, “Why Chinese Painting Is History,” Art Bulletin 85, no. 2 (2003): 258–80, quotation 259. 17. Craig Clunas, Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 171. 18. Ibid., 147. 19. Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Postcolonial India (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004). See my review at www.caareviews.org/ reviews/721.

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European methodologies. My goal is not to criticize Fong, Clunas, and GuhaThakurta, who are superb scholars, but to note how they face an inescapable dilemma. Suppose that you wish to write about Chinese or Indian art on its own terms, using theories developed in China or India. If you seek a large audience, then you need to publish in English. And then can you avoid employing the theorists known to the West? How is it possible to avoid borrowing Western ways of thinking when for a long time all influential styles of art history writing have derived from Europe? Could a study of a canonical European artist—Caravaggio or Manet, for example—derive its conceptual framework from non-European sources? That is, as yet, hard to imagine.20 To the best of my knowledge, no such accounts exist. How could they when there are no art historians working in China, India, or the Islamic world whose names are household words in the West? Here, of course, the academic world reflects broader political realities. Most of the best-known authorities dealing with Chinese, Indian, and Islamic art work in America or Europe. But if Foucault, Gombrich, and Nietzsche can help us understand Chinese art, why cannot such famous Chinese art writers as Han Cho, Kuo Hsi, and Su Shih guide interpretation of European painting? If Western ideas about political art can provide the framework for our analysis of Indian visual culture, then why cannot Indian art history inspire our thinking about European art? And if Roland Barthes’s theorizing is relevant to Islamic decoration, then why cannot Ibn Khaldun’s writing help us understand Western art’s history? My recent book on the art museum concludes with a fantasy about an anonymous Frenchwoman who speculates about how that institution might develop. Here too we can learn by taking seriously the liberating power of utopian thinking.21 I have considered three fictional scholars, one Chinese, one Indian, and one Muslim. Let us look into the future and imagine how a Chinese art writer could describe Poussin’s landscapes; what an Indian scholar could tell us about multiculturalism; and how an Islamic historian might instruct us about Matisse’s borrowings from Muslim art.22 Thanks to the recent book by Ding Yuchang of Peking University, we finally have a satisfactory account of Nicolas Poussin’s landscape paintings. What had 20. Ding Ning writes about Western art in Chinese, but his books have not been translated. 21. “What is a utopia for? To make meaning. Confronting the present . . . a utopia is a second term which permits the sign to function: discourse about reality becomes possible.” Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977), 76. 22. My narratives are fantasies, but if Russell Banks can imagine himself a black Haitian woman in Continental Drift and Edna O’Brien can ventriloquize a male ira member in House of Splendid Isolation, then why cannot I also be allowed fictional personae?

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puzzled the earlier European commentators, the relationship of these pictures to his scenes of pagan mythology and classical history, now becomes clear thanks to Yuchang’s inspired recognition of their affinity with Chinese landscapes.23 Poussin’s landscapes have been much discussed.24 A Western commentator spoke of “how . . . these paintings invite us to embark on a journey of the imagination.”25 And Anthony Blunt drew attention to the ways in which Poussin used landscape to express “the parallel between the two productions of the supreme reason: the harmony of nature and the virtue of man.”26 We find such ideas in Europe later than Poussin, when Romantics think “of God as a kind of cosmic subject, of which we finite subjects are in a sense emanations. This view . . . allows us to see what we make manifest in our language both as our own and as God’s, since God lives in us. We express both ourselves, and a larger reality of which we are a part.”27 But Yuchang is the first art writer to systematically work out such an analysis. To be sure, Poussin’s landscapes look very different from Chinese paintings of any period. But once we understand the spirit of his art, then we can grasp these affinities. European scholars, so good at grasping Poussin’s iconographies, are understandably puzzled by his landscapes, which tell no stories but, “even in his most humanistic paintings,” as Blunt notes, show an almost pantheistic reverence for nature.28 Yuchang draws attention to an observation by Tsung Ping (375–443): “As for landscape, it has physical existence, yet tends towards the spiritual. . . . Landscapes display the beauty of the Tao through their forms, and humane men delight in this.”29 Again quoting Ping, Yuchang describes Poussin as one of those “sages and virtuous men who have shone forth throughout the ages” because they “had myriad charms [of nature] fused in their spirits and thoughts.”30 Chinese artists repeatedly described the way that landscape paintings served as substitutes for real country scenes. When Ping was too old to climb mountains anymore, 23. Poussin’s landscape are compared to Chinese paintings by Malcolm Bull in “Poussin’s Snakes,” in Cézanne and Poussin: A Symposium, ed. Richard Kendall (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 37. 24. See my Poussin’s Paintings: A Study in Art-Historical Methodology (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993), chap. 4; and Margaretha Rossholm Lagerlöf, Ideal Landscape: Annibale Carracci, Nicolas Poussin, and Claude Lorrain (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990). 25. Lagerlöf, Ideal Landscape, 163. 26. Anthony Blunt, Nicolas Poussin (London: Phaidon, 1967), 285. 27. Charles Taylor, “Language and Human Nature,” in Human Agency and Language, Philosphical Papers 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 238. 28. Blunt, Nicolas Poussin, 300. 29. Susan Bush and Hsio-yen Shih, eds., Early Chinese Texts on Painting (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985), 36. See also James Cahill, Treasures of Asia: Chinese Painting (Lausanne: Skira, 1960), 25. 30. Bush and Shih, Early Chinese Texts, 38.

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he “re-experienced his former travels by painting the scenery of his memories on the walls of his room and gazing at these pictures.”31 As he explained: “Unrolling paintings in solitude, I sit pondering the ends of the earth. Without resisting the multitude of natural promptings, alone I respond to uninhabited wildernesses where grottoed peaks tower on high and cloudy forests mass in depth.”32 Here, Yuchang observes, we find a natural connection with Poussin, who, in Richard Wollheim’s acute characterization, was in his landscapes essentially concerned with “a correspondence between nature—nature considered broadly as the backdrop to human action—and what might be called mental fecundity . . . that bounded capacity of the mind . . . to generate an indefinite profusion of thoughts, memories, images, wishes, hopes, fears.”33 If one “merely copies an actual mountain without distinguishing nearness and farness, or shallowness and depth,” Han Cho (active ca. 1095–1125) noted, “the result will be a geography book illustration. How can such a painter attain standards and spirit resonance?”34 Like his Chinese peers, so Yuchang argues, Poussin transcends mere naturalism, correcting nature by reference to nature. Rosalind Krauss’s singularly brilliant and justly influential “Sculpture in the Expanded Field” redefined the concept of monumental art within a Postmodern context.35 But not until Partha Pradeem, who teaches in Mumbai, drew attention to the relationship of Krauss’s account to John Irwin’s interpretation of the Asokan pillars were scholars able to make full use of Krauss’s insights.36 “The logic of sculpture,” Krauss writes, “is inseparable from the logic of the monument. . . . Sculptures are normally figurative and vertical, their pedestals an important part of the structure since they mediate between actual site and representational sign.”37 Only with Postmodernism, Krauss argues, has sculpture effectively dismantled this way of thinking. When Carl Andre removed the pedestal, Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer worked directly on landscape sites, and Robert Irwin, Sol LeWitt, and Richard Serra used the real spaces of 31. Cahill, Treasures of Asia, 25. 32. Bush and Shih, Early Chinese Texts, 38. 33. Richard Wollheim, Painting as an Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 208. 34. Bush and Shih, Early Chinese Texts, 184 35. Rosalind Krauss, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” in The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985). 36. See his four-part essay: “‘Asokan’ Pillars: A Re-assessment of the Evidence,” Burlington Magazine 115 (November 1973): 706–20; “‘Asokan’ Pillars: A Re-assessment of the Evidence—ii: Structure,” Burlington Magazine 116 (December 1974): 712–27; “‘Asokan’ Pillars: A Re-assessment of the Evidence—iii: Capitals,” Burlington Magazine 117 (October 1975): 631–43; “‘Asokan’ Pillars: A Reassessment of the Evidence—iv: Symbolism,” Burlington Magazine 118 (November 1976): 734–53. 37. Krauss, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” 279.

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architecture, there was a “historical rupture and the structural transformation of the cultural field that characterizes it.”38 Pradeem effectively deconstructs Krauss’s conclusion, her claim that “the expanded field of Postmodernism occurs at a specific moment in the history of art. It is a historical event with a determinate structure.”39 In fact, he notes, in third-century b.c. India the Asokan pillars anticipated this way of thinking. What Indian artists created were not just standing columns, but pillars with symbolic significance. These pillars were the axis mundi, the vertical around which the world turned. “Every throne was in turn located at the mystic centre of the palace; every palace at the mystic center of the city; every royal city at the mystic centre of the kingdom, while the kingdom itself was conceived as image of the cosmos and equivalent to total space.”40 These pillars were thought to extend upwards to the celestial sphere.41 The Asokan pillars, so it turns out, have more in common with Postmodern earthworks than with traditional European sculptures. In offering this argument, Pradeem takes nothing away from the importance of Krauss’s account. On the contrary, by linking her analysis to sculpture in the now expanded structural diagram, he shows how Krauss’s account helps us place Postmodern Western art. Once we recognize the Andre, Heizer, Serra, and Smithson work within a tradition developed also long ago in India, our experience of their art is enriched. Thanks to Hilary Spurling’s biography and the research of John Elderfield, Jack Flam, and their colleagues, we know the story of Henri Matisse’s career in intimate detail. And yet all of that information does not entirely explain his most important works of art. In his book, Mohammed Akbar, professor at Baghdad University, points to the ways in which Oleg Grabar’s ideas about Islamic ornament illuminate this art.42 In a late, very brief essay, Matisse explained the essential role exotic painting played in his development. “Persian miniatures . . . showed me all the possibilities of my sensations. I could find again in nature what they should be. By its properties, this art suggests a larger and truly plastic 38. Ibid., 287. 39. Ibid., 290. 40. Irwin, “iv: Symbolism,” 749. 41. Ibid., 743. 42. Fereshteh Daftari, The Influence of Persian Art on Gauguin, Matisse, and Kandinsky (New York: Garland, 1991), 187–88, notes that in 1905 “Matisse starts searching for an alternative to illusionistic space, and that alternative would have been available to him in the form of Persian miniatures.” See also Roger Benjamin, Orientalist Aesthetics: Art, Colonialism, and French North Africa, 1880–1930 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003), chap. 7.

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space. That helped me get away from intimate painting. Thus my revelation came from the Orient.”43 While agreeing with the leftist Western commentators that Matisse’s career was linked to colonialism, Akbar, writing as a Muslim, notes how sympathetically Matisse employed this tradition.44 Gentile and Giovanni Bellini’s Saint Mark Preaching in Alexandria, like all of the other Renaissance paintings depicting Islamic carpets, merely insert foreign objects into a Western pictorial space. Matisse, Akbar argues, does something more interesting, creating a space akin to that of Islamic art. Recently a Western scholar has hesitantly spoken of how Matisse’s Moroccan paintings were described in terms linked to “the North African Gaze,” as if his “vision seemed somehow to be non-Western.”45 Akbar’s bolder concern is the ways in which Matisse’s “Moroccan hinge” provides a way of understanding his art long after the brief period when the painter worked in North Africa.46 Recent Western scholarship has been highly suspicious of Matisse’s uses of his models. As Spurling notes, there has been unfounded speculation that he sexually exploited these pretty young women.47 Even so sympathetic a commentator as Lawrence Gowing calls the painter a man of his time.48 The fact that the object of love was never wholly real to Matisse, or meaningful to him in her 43. Jack D. Flam, Matisse on Art (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1978), 116. See Jack Flam, Matisse: The Man and His Art, 1869–1918 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986), 289. 44. See Alastair Wright, Matisse and the Subject of Modernism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), chap. 6. 45. Ibid., 211. 46. This phrase derives from Pierre Schneider, “The Moroccan Hinge,” in Matisse in Morocco: The Paintings and Drawings, 1912–1913, exhibition catalogue (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery, 1990), 17–56. 47. Hilary Spurling, Matisse the Master: A Life of Henri Matisse: The Conquest of Colour, 1909–1954 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), xvii–xviii. John Elderfield, Pleasuring Painting: Matisse’s Feminine Representations (London: Thames and Hudson, 1995), and Elaine Scarry, On Beauty and Being Just (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995) are sympathetic accounts. See also my “The Art of Making Spectacles: A Short History of the Development of Painting from Matisse and Pollock to Manet,” in Seeing and Beyond: Essays on Eighteenth- to Twenty-First-Century Art in Honor of Kermit S. Champa, ed. Deborah J. Johnson and David Ogawa (New York: Peter Lang, 2005), 7–19. His pictures of nudes have been compared to banal pornography. “When viewed together, Playboy magazine and Matisse’s paintings seem to represent reversed yet complementary configurations of vision and gendered identity in 1950s visual culture. . . . In both instances, the affirmation of heterosexual masculine identity is mediated and achieved through the displayed body of the woman.” Marcia Brennan, Modernism’s Masculine Subjects: Matisse, the New York School, and Post-Painterly Abstraction (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), 36–37. 48. Lawrence Gowing, Matisse (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 154. Roland Barthes anticipated this moralizing: “An entire minor mythology would have us believe that pleasure . . . is a rightist notion.” Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text, trans. Richard Miller (New York: Hill and Wang, 1975), 22.

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human role for her own sake, placed a limit on the emotional depth of which he was capable. Inspired by his love of Islamic decoration, Akbar takes a very different view. Matisse’s models, Akbar argues, should not be seen in a literal way, as if his goal were merely to display pretty girls. Akbar is a pupil of Oleg Grabar, and so he is inspired by his teacher’s observation: “Nearly all studies on ornament contrast its artificiality and contrived formalism with the ‘reality’ of representations from natural or imaginable worlds.”49 Within Islam, Akbar observes, that recent discovery of the importance of ornament in the West, is familiar. “The hijab [veil] is that which separates not only the female from the male, but also the private from the public, the interior from the exterior and the invisible from the visible. . . . Attributing a fundamental symbolic function to the act of seeing, the Islamic conception of the veil implies that the world in which we live, and which we perceive . . . is only appearance.”50 Matisse’s models, what Grabar calls intermediaries, belong to the realm “between the viewer and the object.”51 That is why they, like Islamic decoration, serve to create aesthetic pleasure. When he works in Nice, “human beings and objects are not treated differently than floors or walls on the painting’s surface. Matisse progressively abolishes all pictorial distinction between the apparent subject of his paintings . . . and the background.”52 Only a Muslim, Akbar observes, is fully prepared to see these pictures properly. As yet, Ding Yuchang, Partha Pradeem, and Mohammed Akbar are merely imaginary. But in some not unimaginably distant future, we may reasonably expect they will exist. When that happens, scholars from China, India, and the Islamic world will return the gaze, teaching the West how to see its art in ways that today are hard to anticipate. Building upon European tradition, these art writers could create a genuinely novel perspective, one that builds upon their knowledge of their own visual traditions. At that moment, I would argue, a genuine world art history will start to be possible.

49. Oleg Grabar, The Mediation of Ornament (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 234. 50. Dominique Clévenot, Splendors of Islam: Architecture, Decoration, and Design, trans. Jean Davis (New York: Vendome Press, 2000), 208. 51. Grabar, The Mediation of Ornament, 234. 52. Dominique Fourcade, “An Uninterrupted Story,” in Henri Matisse: The Early Years in Nice, 1916–1930, by Jack Cowart and Dominique Fourcade, exhibition catalogue (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1986), 55.

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S e l e c t i v e A n n o t a t ed Bibliogr aphy

art history Alsop, Joseph. The Rare Art Traditions: The History of Art Collecting and Its Linked Phenomena. New York: Harper and Row, 1982. A suggestive synthesis. Barolsky, Paul. Giotto’s Father and the Family of Vasari’s Lives. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992. ———. Why Mona Lisa Smiles and Other Tales by Vasari. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991. Bell, Julian. Mirror of the World: A New History of Art. London: Thames and Hudson, 2007. Boardman, John. The World of Ancient Art. London: Thames and Hudson, 2006. A world art history of ancient art. Burke, Peter. The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999. A good introduction to Vasari’s art world. Elkins, James, ed. Is Art History Global? New York: Routledge, 2007. ———. Stories of Art. New York: Routledge, 2002. Honour, Hugh, and John Fleming. A World History of Art. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Education, 2005. Kaufmann, Thomas DaCosta. Toward a Geography of Art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. Kaufmann, Thomas DaCosta, and Elizabeth Pilliod. Time and Place: The Geohistory of Art. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. Kubler, George. The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962. Remains an important resource. Fu, Shen, Glenn D. Lowry, and Ann Yonemura. From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy. Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, 1986. Lee, Sherman E. A History of Far Eastern Art. 5th ed. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994. A grand survey covering China and India. Levenson, Jay A., ed. Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration. Exhibition catalogue. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1992. Onians, John, ed. The World Atlas of Art. London: Laurence King, 2004. O’Riley, Michael Kampen. Art Beyond the West: The Arts of Africa, India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, the Pacific, and the Americas. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001. Rubin, Patricia Lee. Giorgio Vasari: Art and History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

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chinese art Barnhart, Richard, Yang Xin, Nie Chongzheng, James Cahill, Lang Shaojun, and Hung Wu. Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997. Bush, Susan. The Chinese Literati on Painting: Su Shih (1037–1101) to Tung Ch’i-ch’ang (1555– 1636). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971. An essential work on Chinese aesthetics. Bush, Susan, and Hsio-yen Shih, eds. Early Chinese Texts on Painting. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985. An essential work on Chinese aesthetics. Cahill, James. The Compelling Image: Nature and Style in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Painting. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982. ———. The Painter’s Practice: How Artists Lived and Worked in Traditional China. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994. ———. Treasures of Asia: Chinese Painting. Lausanne: Skira, 1960. A traditional history. Clunas, Craig. Art in China. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Makes important methodological claims. ———. Empire of Great Brightness: Visual and Material Cultures of Ming China, 1368–1644. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2007. ———. Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997. ———. Superfluous Things: Material Culture and Social Status in Early Modern China. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991. Fong, Wen C. Beyond Representation: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, 8th–14th Century. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992. Hongzing, Zhang. “Rereading Inscriptions in Chinese Scroll Painting: The Eleventh to the Fourteenth Centuries.” Art History 28, no. 5 (2005): 606–25. Hung, Wu. The Double Screen: Medium and Representation in Chinese Painting. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. A very original methodological analysis. Juo, Jason  C.  Discovering Chinese Painting: Dialogues with American Art Historians. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt, 2000. Lee, Sherman E. Chinese Landscape Painting. Cleveland: Cleveland Museum, 1962. Sickman, Lawrence, and Alexander Soper. The Art and Architecture of China. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971. Silberfeld, Jerome. “Chinese Painting Studies in the West: A State-of-the Field Article.” Journal of Asian Studies 46, no. 4 (1987): 849–97. A helpful summary of the literature. Sullivan, Michael. The Arts of China. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984. ———. The Birth of Landscape Painting in China. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1962. Watson, William. The Arts of China to ad 900. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995. Yiqiang, Cao. “Some Features of the History of Art History in China.”

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157

colonialism Ali, Tariq. The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads, and Modernity. London: Verso, 2003. An extremely readable history of Islam up to the present. Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 1983. ———. The Origins of Postmodernity. London: Verso, 1998. Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. Bader, Veit, ed. “Multicultural Futures? International Approaches to Pluralism.” Special issue, Canadian Diversity/Diversité Canadienne 4, no. 1 (2005). An overview of the practical politics of multiculturalism. Blackburn, Robin. “Imperial Margarine.” New Left Review 35 (2005): 124–36. A review of Ferguson, Colossus. Boal, Iaian, T. J. Clark, Joseph Matthews, and Michael Watts. Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War. London: Verso, 2005. Coll, Steve. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. New York: Penguin, 2004. Ferguson, Niall. Colossus: The Price of America’s Empire. New York: Penguin, 2004. See the review by Blackburn. Guba, Ranajit, ed. A Subaltern Studies Reader, 1986–1995. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. Empire. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. Much discussed. Harvey, David. The New Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Irwin, Robert. For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and Their Enemies. London: Allen Lane, 2006. Contains a critique of Said’s claims. Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1991. The best Marxist account. Khilnani, Sunil. The Idea of India. New Delhi: Penguin, 2004. Lal, Deepak. In Praise of Empires: Globalization and Order. New York: Palgrave, 2004. Lowe, Lisa, and David Lloyd, eds. The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997. Mann, Michael. Incoherent Empire. London: Verso, 2003. Marten, Kimberly Fisk. Enforcing the Peace: Learning from the Imperial Past. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004. Marx, Karl. Karl Marx on Colonialism and Modernization: His Dispatches and Other Writings on China, India, Mexico, the Middle East, and North Africa. Edited by Shlomo Avineri. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor, 1969. An essential source. Mishra, Pankaj. Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Nederveen Pieterse, Jan. Globalization or Empire? New York: Routledge, 2004. Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.

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———.Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1979. A classic. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999. Todorov, Tzvetan. On Human Diversity: Nationalism, Racism, and Exoticism in French Thought. Translated by Catherine Porter. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993. Said’s French equivalent. Warren, Bill, and John Sender. Imperialism: Pioneer of Capitalism. London: Verso, 1980. Usefully explains how Lenin reversed the traditional Marxist ways of thinking. Wood, Ellen Meiksins. Empire of Capital. London: Verso, 2003.

studies of history Biardeau, Madeleine. Hinduism: The Anthropology of a Civilization. Translated by Richard Nice. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1989. Coles, Paul. The Ottoman Impact on Europe. London: Thames and Hudson, 1968. Fairbank, John King. China: A New History. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1992. Along with Mote, Imperial China, one of the two best general histories. Gellner, Ernest. Muslim Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981. ———. Postmodernism, Reason and Religion. London: Routledge, 1992. Keay, John. India: A History. London: Harper Perennial, 2000. Majumdar, R.  C., H.  C.  Raychaudhuri, and Kalikinkar Datta. An Advanced History of India. London: Macmillan, 1960. Mote, Frederick  W. Imperial China, 900–1800. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999. Along with Fairbank, China, one of the two best general histories. ———. Intellectual Foundations of China. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989. Peters, F. E. Allah’s Commonwealth: A History of Islam in the Near East, 600–1100 a . d . New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973. Sen, Amarty. The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity. New York: Picador, 2006. Spence, Jonathan  D.  The Chan’s Great Continent: China in Western Minds. New York: W. W. Norton, 1998. ———. The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci. New York: Viking Penguin, 1984. Watkins, Ronald. Unknown Seas: How Vasco da Gama Opened the West. London: John Murray, 2003. Wolpert, Stanley. A New History of India. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

indian art Bachhofer, Ludwig. Early Indian Sculpture. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1973. Beach, Milo Cleveland. Mughal and Rajput Painting. The New Cambridge History of India 1:3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Berkson, Carmel, Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty, and George Michell. Elephanta: The Cave of Shiva. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1999.

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159

Blurton, T. Richard. Hindu Art. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993. Chaitanya, Krishna. Pahari Traditions. Vol. 4 of A History of Indian Painting. Delhi: Abhinav, 1984. ———. Rajasthani Traditions. Vol.  3 of A History of Indian Painting. Delhi: Abhinav, 1982. Chandra, Pramod. On the Study of Indian Art. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983. A valuable account of methodological issues. Coomaraswamy, Ananda K. History of Indian and Indonesian Art. London: Edward Goldston, 1927. Influential but dated. Dehejia, Vidya. Indian Art. London: Phaidon, 1997. A useful survey. Desai, Devangana. Erotic Sculpture of India: A Socio-Cultural Study. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1985. For better plates, but a much slighter text, see Fouchet, The Erotic Sculpture of India. Eck, Diana L. Darsán: Seeing the Divine Image in India. Chambersburg, Pa.: Anima Books, 1985. Fouchet, Max Pol. The Erotic Sculpture of India. Translated by Brian Rhys. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1959. Guha-Thakurta, Tapati. Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Postcolonial India. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004. Magisterial. Havell, E. B. The Art Heritage of India. Rev. ed. Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons, 1964. Kramrisch, Stella. The Art of India: Traditions of Indian Sculpture, Painting, and Architecture. London: Phaidon, 1954. An older survey history. Michell, George. Elephanta. Mumbai: India Book House, 2002. ———. Hindu Art and Architecture. London: Thames and Hudson, 2000. Mitter, Partha. Indian Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. ———. Much Maligned Monsters: A History of European Reactions to Indian Art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. Rawson, Philip. The Art of Tantra. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. ———. Oriental Erotic Art. New York: A and W, 1981. Rowland, Benjamin. Art and Architecture of India: Buddhist, Hindu, Jain. London: Puffin, 1971. Dated survey. Tömöry, Edith. A History of Fine Arts in India and the West. New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1982. Dated survey.

islamic art For my purposes, the essential author is Oleg Grabar. None of the works on carpets cited here offers a satisfying theory of decoration. Baer, Eva. Islamic Ornament. New York: New York University Press, 1998.

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Barry, Michael. Colour and Symbolism in Islamic Architecture: Eight Centuries of the TileMaker’s Art. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996. ———. Figurative Art in Medieval Islam and the Riddle of Bihzâd of Herât (1465–1535). Paris: Flammarion, 2004. Bennett, Ian, ed. Rugs and Carpets of the World. London: Ferndale Editions, 1981. A useful practice manual. Blair, Sheila, and Jonathan Bloom. The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250–1800. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994. ———. “The Mirage of Islamic Art: Reflections on the Study of an Unwieldy Field.” Art Bulletin 85, no. 1 (2003): 152–84. Includes a bibliography. Bloom, Jonathan, and Sheila Blair. Islamic Arts. London: Phaidon, 1997. Bode, Wilhelm von, and Ernst Küchel. Antique Rugs from the Near East. Translated by Charles Grant Ellis. Berlin: Klinkhardt and Biermann, 1958. Brend, Barbara. Islamic Art. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991. Carrier, David. “Queer or Qu’oran: Two Marginal Art Histories.” ArtUS 15 (2006): 28–31. A review of Grabar’s Constructing the Study of Islamic Art series. Clévenon, Dominique. Splendors of Islam: Architecture, Decoration and Design. Translated by Jean Davis. New York: Vendome Press, 2000. Erdmann, Kurt. The History of the Early Turkish Carpet. Translated by Robert Pinner. London: Oguz Press, 1977. ———. Seven Hundred Years of Oriental Carpets. Edited by Hanna Erdmann. Translated by May H. Beattie and Hildegard Herzog. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1970. Ettinghausen, Richard, Oleg Grabar, and Marilyn Jenkins-Madina. Islamic Art and Architecture, 650–1250. 2nd ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. Ford, P. R. J. Oriental Carpet Design: A Guide to Traditional Motifs, Patterns and Symbols. London: Thames and Hudson, 1981. A useful practice manual. Grabar, Oleg. The Alhambra. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1978. ———. Early Islamic Art, 650–1100. Constructing the Study of Islamic Art 1. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. ———. The Formation of Islamic Art. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1973. ———. Islamic Art and Beyond. Constructing the Study of Islamic Art 3. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006. ———. Islamic Visual Culture, 1100–1800. Constructing the Study of Islamic Art 2. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006. ———. Jerusalem. Constructing the Study of Islamic Art 4. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. ———. The Mediation of Ornament. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992. ———. Mostly Miniatures: An Introduction to Persian Painting. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. Hillenbrand, Robert. Islamic Art and Architecture. London: Thames and Hudson, 1999. Hodgson, Marshall G. S. The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization. 3 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974. Usefully supplements Grabar’s history. ———. “The Visual Arts in an Islamic Setting, 1258–1503.” In Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, 2:501–31.

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161

Irwin, Robert. Islamic Art in Context: Art, Architecture, and the Literary World. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1997. Küchel, Ernst. The Arabesque: Meaning and Transformation of an Ornament. Translated by Richard Ettinghausen. Graz: Verlag für Sammler, 1976. Leaman, Oliver. Islamic Aesthetics: An Introduction. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004. A useful critique. Marçais, Georges. L’art de l’Islam. Paris: Librairie Larousse, 1962. Masheck, Joseph. “The Carpet Paradigm: Critical Prolegomena to a Theory of Flatness.” Arts Magazine 51, no. 1 (1976): 82–109. A discussion of carpets in Modernist art. Necipoglu, Gülru. The Topkapi Scroll: Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture. Santa Monica: Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1996. Rice, David Talbot. Islamic Art. London: Thames and Hudson, 1965. Rosenthal, Franz. Four Essays on Art and Literature in Islam. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1971. Ruthven, Malise. Islam in the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. A clear survey. Shafei, Farid M. Simple Calyx Ornament in Islamic Art: A Study in Arabesque. Cairo: Cairo University Press, 1957. Welch, Anthony. Artists for the Shah: Late Sixteenth-Century Painting at the Imperial Court of Iran. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976.

political philosophy Anonymous [Michael Scheuer]. Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror. Washington, D.C.: Brassey’s, 2004. Barry, Brian. Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001. Bin Laden, Osama. Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden. Translated by James Howarth. London: Verso, 2005. An essential text. See also Anonymous, Imperial Hubris. Epstein, Steven A. “Slaves in Italy, 1350–1550.” In At the Margins: Minority Groups in Premodern Italy, edited by Stephen J. Milner, chap. 11. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005. Fish, Stanley. “Boutique Multiculturalism.” In Multiculturalism and American Democracy, edited by A. Melzer, J. Weinberger, and R. Zonman, 69–88. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998. Most useful. Geuss, Raymond. Public Goods, Private Goods. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 114. Levy, Jacob T. The Multiculturalism of Fear. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Maier, Charles  S. Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006. Parekh, Bhikhu. Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. In a class by itself.

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Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Rev. ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1999. Most commentators agree that A Theory of Justice is unsatisfactory, but there is no satisfying alternative account. See Geuss, Public Goods, Private Goods, 114. Young, Iris Marion. Intersecting Voices: Dilemmas of Gender, Political Philosophy, and Policy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997.

relations between artistic cultures Agnew, Jean-Christophe. “Coming up for Air: Consumer Culture in Historical Perspective.” In Brewer and Porter, Consumption and the World of Goods, chap. 2. Allsen, Thomas T. “Biography of a Cultural Broker: Bolad Ch’eng-Hsiang in China and Iran.” In The Court of the Il-khans, 1290–1340, edited by Julian Raby and Teresa Fitzherbert, 7–19. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. The story of a Mongolian contemporary of Marco Polo. Baudet, Henri. Paradise on Earth: Some Thoughts on European Images of Non-European Man. Translated by Elizabeth Wentholt. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965. Bentley, Jerry H. Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-modern Times. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Beurdeley, Cécile, and Michel Beurdeley. Giuseppe Castiglione: A Jesuit Painter at the Court of the Chinese Emperors. Translated by Michael Bullock. Rutland, Vt.: Charles  E. Tuttle, 1971. Blanks, David R., and Michael Frasetto, eds. Western Views of Islam in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Perception of Other. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999. Brewer, John, and Roy Porter, eds. Consumption and the World of Goods. London: Routledge, 1993. Brosh, Na’ama, and Rachel Milstein. Biblical Stories in Islamic Painting. Exhibition catalogue. Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 1991. Brotton, Jerry. The Renaissance Bazaar: From the Silk Road to Michelangelo. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Argues that the Italian Renaissance cannot be understood without reference to Islam. Buruma, Ian, and Avishai Margalit. Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies. New York: Penguin, 2004. Collins, Randall. The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1998. Daniel, Norman. The Arabs and Mediaeval Europe. London: Longman, 1975. A suggestive history from the Christian side. Djaït, Hichem. Europe and Islam. Translated by Peter Heinegg. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985. Duthuit, Georges. Chinese Mysticism and Modern Painting. Paris: Chroniques du jour, 1936. Compares Chinese paintings to European Modernist art. Elliott, J. H. The Old World and the New, 1492–1650. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970. Focillon, Henri. Art d’Occident. Vol. 1, Le moyen âge roman. Paris: Librairie Armand Colin, 1965. See 256–67 for a discussion of Islamic influences in medieval art. See also Lemaire, The Orient in Western Art.

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163

Goody, Jack. Islam in Europe. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2004. Gordon, David C. Images of the West: Third World Perspectives. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1989. Grabar, Oleg. “Trade with the East and the Influence of Islamic Art on the ‘Luxury Arts’ in the West.” In Il medio oriente e l’occidente nell’arte del xii secolo, edited by Hans Belting, 11–34. Bologna: Cooperativa Libraria Universitaria, 1979. Greenblatt, Stephen. Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. Honour, Hugh. The New Golden Land: European Images of America from the Discoveries to the Present Time. New York: Pantheon, 1976. Howard, Deborah. Venice and the East: The Impact of the Islamic World on Venetian Architecture, 1100–1500. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. Hudson, G. J. Europe and China: A Survey of Their Relations from the Earliest Times to 1800. Boston: Beacon, 1961. Jackson, Anna, and Amin Jaffer, eds. Encounters: The Meeting of Asia and Europe, 1500–1800. London: V and A, 2004. Jairazbhoy, R. A. Oriental Influences in Western Art. New York: Asia, 1965. Anecdotal. Jones, Owen. The Grammar of Ornament. 1856. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1972. Justly famous world survey. Larner, John. Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. Lemaire, Gérard-Georges. The Orient in Western Art. Translated by Harriet Blanco, Peter Field, Françoise Jones, and Doris Wolstencroft. Cologne: Könemann, 2001. Lewis, Bernard. The Arabs in History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. ———. Islam and the West. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. The story from the Muslims’ point of view. ———. The Muslim Discovery of Europe. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001. ———. What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Mack, Rosamond E. Bazaar to Piazza: Islamic Trade and Italian Art, 1300–1600. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002. McEvilley, Thomas. Art and Otherness: Crisis in Cultural Identity. Kingston, N.Y.: McPherson, 1992 Admirably lucid. ———. The Shape of Ancient Thought. New York: Allworth Press, 2002. An important study of the trade in ideas between ancient Greece and Asia. Polo, Marco. The Travels of Marco Polo. Edited by Manuel Komroff. New York: Liveright, 1930. Contains brief notes about carpets. See also Larner, Marco Polo. Porter, Roy. “Consumption: Disease of the Consumer Society?” In Brewer and Porter, Consumption and the World of Goods, chap. 4. Raby, Julian. Venice, Dürer, and the Oriental Mode. London: Islamic Art, 1982. Restall, Matthew. Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Roxburgh, David  J. Prefacing the Image: The Writing of Art History in Sixteenth-Century Iran. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2001.

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Scammell, G. V. The World Encompassed: The First European Maritime Empires, c. 800–1650. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1981. Watt, William Montgomery. Muslim-Christian Encounters: Perceptions and Misperceptions. London: Routledge, 1991. Wills, John E., Jr. 1688: Global History. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001. Describes a world that is connected. Wittkower, Rudolf. Selected Lectures of Rudolf Wittkower: The Impact of Non-European Civilizations on the Art of the West. Edited by Donald Martin Reynolds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Yee, Chiang. The Chinese Eye: An Interpretation of Chinese Painting. London: Methuen, 1935. An account by a Chinese artist who worked in Europe.

world histories Most historians only rarely discuss visual art. Abernethy, David B. The Dynamics of Global Dominance: European Overseas Empires, 1415– 1980. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. Adshead, S. A. M. China in World History. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. A Sinocentric world history. _______. T’ang China: The Rise of the East in World History. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Was China was more advanced than Europe? Bodley, John H. The Power of Scale: A Global History Approach. Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 2003. An anthropologist’s approach, without the master narratives of historians. Braudel, Fernand. Capitalism and Material Life, 1400–1800. Translated by Miriam Kochan. New York: Harper and Row, 1973. Bzulliet, Richard W., Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daviel  R. Headrick, Steven  W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, and David Northrup. The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. A textbook. Cook, Michael. A Brief History of the Human Race. New York: W. W. Norton, 2003. Curtin, Philip D. Cross-Cultural Trade in World History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984. Useful background. Fernández-Armesto, Felipe. Civilizations. London: Macmillan, 2000. An antihistory; argues that the West is an inferior civilization. ———. Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years. New York: Scribner, 1995. ———. Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration. New York: W. W. Norton, 2006. Frank, Andre Gunder, and Barry K. Gills, eds. The World System: Five Hundred Years or Five Thousand? London: Routledge, 1993. Responses to Wallerstein, The Modern World-System. Goody, Jack. Capitalism and Modernity: The Great Debate. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2004. Has a chapter on China.

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165

Kennedy, Paul. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000. New York: Random House, 1987. McNeill, William H. The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963. Nowadays few scholars speak of “the rise of the West.” Needham, Joseph. Science and Civilisation in China. Vol. 7, pt. 2, General Conclusions and Reflections. With the collaboration of Kenneth Girdwood Robinson and Ray Huang. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Much discussed. Ostler, Nicholas. Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. A world history focused on language. Ponting, Clive. World History: A New Perspective. London: Chatto and Windus, 2000. Roberts, J. M. A Short History of the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Very clear, not really short. ———. The Triumph of the West: The Origin, Rise, and Legacy of Western Civilization. London: Phoenix Press, 2001. Usefully identifies the political implications of A Short History. Subrahmanyam, Sanjay. “On World Historians in the Sixteenth Century.” Representations 91 (2005): 26–76. Toynbee, Arnold. Mankind and Mother Earth: A Narrative History of the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Wallerstein, Immanuel. The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century. New York: Academic Press, 1974. Offers a testable, much-discussed theory. See, for example, the essays in Frank and Gills, The World System.

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Index

Abernethy, David, 120–21 n. 17, 124 n. 39 Adshead, S. A. M., xxiii, 51 n. 28, 144 n. 7 Ajit, Mookerjee, 108 n. 19 Akbar, Mohammed, 150–52 Alberti, Leone, 68, 111 Ali, Tariq, and David Barsamian, 121 n. 19 Alpers, Svetlana, 84 n. 41 Alsop, Joseph, xi n. 1 Anderson, Benedict, 72 n. 35, 120 n. 14 Anscombe, G. E. M., 78 n. 11 Appadurai, Arjun, 74 n. 43 Arnheim, Rudolf, 61 n. 2, 77–78 Arthur, John, 94 n. 18 Atwell, Wiliam, 144 n. 8 Auld, Sylvia, 17 n. 58 Avineri, Shlomo, 121 n. 20 Babinger, Franz, 15 n. 54 Bachhofer, Ludwig, 52 n. 10, 42 n. 32 Baer, Eva, 41 n. 41 Baghhramian, Aria, 27 n. 14 Bal, Mieke, xxiii Barnhart, Richard, 23 Barolsky, Paul, 21 Barry, Brian, 94 n. 19 Barthes, Roland, 103, 147 n. 21, 151 n. 48 Baxandall, Michael, 38 n. 14, 77 n. 7, 78 n. 9 Beach, Milo, 76 n. 5 Beaurdeley, Cécile, and Michael Beurdeley, 43 n. 41, 50 n. 16 Behzad, Hossein, 48, 51 Bell, Leonard, xxi n. 15, 49 n. 15 Bellini, Gentile, and Giovanni Bellini, 14–16, 151 Belting, Hans, 25 n. 24, 108 n. 23 Bendis, Jared, 127 n. 55 Benjamin, Roger, 150 n. 42 Benjamin, Walter 120 n. 13, 131 Bennett, Ian, 8 n. 28, 119 n. 9 Benniston, Amira, 51 n. 26 Bentley, Jerry, 6 n. 17, 49 n. 13 Berenson, Bernard, 9 n. 36 Berkson, Carmel, Wendy O’Flaherty, and George Mitchell, 42 n. 35 Berlin, Isaiah, xviii, 92, 93, 94, 108 n. 21, 133 n. 8

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Bhatacharyya, Tarapada, 107 Bloom, Jonathan, and Shelia Blair, 51 n. 25, 81, 113 n. 40 Blunt, Anthony, 148 Bonyhady, Tim, and Nigel Lendon, 17 n. 60 Bourdieu, Pierre, 84 n. 41, 121 Brancati, Luca, 9 n. 38 Brand, Michael, and Glenn Lowry, 51 n. 21 Braudel, Fernand, 5 n. 14, 138 n. 27 Brend, Barbara, 85 n. 46 Brendel, Otto, 99 n. 44 Brennan, Marcia, 151 n. 47 Brisch, Klaus, 127 n. 52 Brotton, Jerry, 44 n. 51, 15 nn. 54–55, 138–39 Brown, Patricia, 7 n. 26, 14 n. 51, 15 n. 56 Bryson, Norman, xxiii Bull, Malcolm, 80 n. 21, 148 n. 23 Bush, Susan, and Hsio-yen Shih, 38 n. 15, 77 n. 7, 107 n. 12, 148 nn. 29–30 Bzulliet, Richard, Pamela Crossley, Daniel Headrich, Steven Hirsch, Lyman Johnson, and David Northrup, xxiii n. 2 Cahill, James, 22 n. 12, 43 n. 36, 80 n. 22, 110 n. 28, 112 n. 36 Cammann, Schuyler, 9 n. 35 Caravaggio, Michelangelo da, 23 Carpaccio, Vittore, 17 Carracci, Annibale, 23–24 Carrier, James, xiii n. 9 Chaitanya, Krishna, 21, 22 n. 11 Chakrabarty, Dipesh, xxiv, 144 Ch’eng, Li, 22 Cho, Han, 149 Clark, Tim, xxiii, 75, 119 n. 11 Clévenot, Dominique, 152 n. 50 Clunas, Craig, xxiv, 37–38, 39, 57 n. 56, 61, 73, 112, 146 Coll, Steve, 17 n. 60, 122 n. 27 Collier, Peter, 47 n. 2 Collins, Randall, xxiii Contadini, Anna, 17 n. 59, 51 n. 24 Cook, Michael, xii, xxiii, 56–57 Craven, Roy, 22 n. 6

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1 6 8 

Crespi, Gabriele, 85, 100 n. 46 Crill, Rosemary, 50 n. 20 Crowley, Pamela, 143 n. 1 Czuma, Stanislaw, 81 n. 24 da Vinci, Leonardo, 77, 98 Daftari, Fereshteh, 150 n. 42 Daniel, Norman, 14 n. 52 Danto, Arthur, xviii, xix, xxiii, 30 n. 18, 43 n. 40, 52, 65 n. 13, 75, 82–84, 86, 107 n. 14, 117, 125–26, 131, 134–35 Davidson, Cathy, 125 n. 46 Davidson, Donald, 91 Dehejia, Vidya, 24 n. 21, 42 n. 35, 82 n. 29, 87 n. 53, 106 n. 7, 109 n. 25 de Botton, Alain, 47 n. 3 de Couto, Diego de, 49 n. 12 Debord, Guy, 75 della Francesca, Piero, 78 Dempsey, Charles, 14 n. 51 Denny, Walter, 7 n. 23 Derrida, Jacques, 57 n. 58 Desai, Devangana, 42 n. 30, 108 n. 17 Descartes, René, 132 Dickie, George, 117 n. 2 Dirlik, Arif, xiii nn. 8, 11 Dosse, François, 127n. 57 Dworkin, Gerald, 122 n. 28 Eagleton, Terry, 119 n. 7 Elderfield, John, 151 n. 47 Elias, Norbert, 93 Eliot, T. S., 27 n. 1 Elkins, James, xvii, 27, 37, 42 n. 44, 58, 61 n. 1, 127 n. 53 Elliott, J. H., xiii n. 10, 40 n. 25 Ellis, Charles, 5 n. 11 Erdmann, Kurt, 3 n. 7, 6 n. 19 Ettinghausen, Richard, 6 n. 20, 8, 11 Ettinghausen, Richard, Oleg Grabar, and Marilyn Jenkins-Madina, 87 n. 87, 113 Fabriano, Gentile da, 15 Fairbank, John 143 n. 1, 144 n. 7 Fenollosa, Ernest, 84 Ferguson, Niall, 124 n. 40 Fish, Stanley, 136 n. 18 Flam, Jack, 54 n. 44, 151 n. 43 Fong, Wen, 24 nn. 19–20, 36, 146 Foster, Michael, 92 n. 8 Foster, Hall, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, and Benjamin Buchloh, 57 n. 56, 100 n. 47 Fourcade, Dominique, 152 n. 52

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Index

Franses, Michael, 11 n. 20 Freedberg, S., 21 n. 2, 23, 138 Fried, Michael, 113 Fry, Roger, xiii–xiv, 42, 117 Fu, Shen, Glenn Lowry, and Ann Yonemura, 36 n. 3 Gellner, Ernest, xviii, 137 n. 20, 144–45 n. 10 Gibbon, Edwaard, 143 Gilmore, Jonathan, 19, 32 Giotto, 133 Gitomer, David, 106 n. 8 Goethe, Johann, 7 Goffman, Erving, 93 n. 11 Golombek, Lisa, 8 n. 29 Gombrich, E. H., xviii n. 7, 1 n. 2, 4 n. 9, 12–14, 35–36, 38, 41, 64, 81, 96, 101–2, 106 n. 10, 110, 113 n. 37 Goodman, Nelson, 61 n. 1 Gowing, Lawrence, 151 n. 48 Grabar, Oleg, 6 n. 16, 18 n. 61, 19, 35, 37 n. 10, 40 nn. 21, 24, 48 n. 6, 55, 76 n. 6, 77 n. 8, 81 n. 23, 82, 87 n. 57, 101–3, 109–10, 113 n. 42, 139 n. 29, 150, 152 nn. 49, 51 Greenberg, Clement, 25, 29–30, 31–32, 35, 80, 86 Grünewald, Matthias, 108 Guha, Ranajit, 131 Guha-Thakurta, Tapati, xxv, 91, 99, 146 Habermas, Jürgen, xviii, 133–34 Hall, Edwin, 3 n. 5 Hansen, Chad, 105 n. 2 Havell, E. B., 98 n. 35 Hegel, G. W. F., xviii, 27, 27–28, 84, 85, 87, 96, 100 n. 46, 127 n. 57, 132, 133 Herbert, Robert, 120 n. 12 Herder, Johann, xviii, 92, 94, 127 n. 52 Hernández, Alfonso, Maricela Falcón, Beatriz de la Fuente, Merceds de la Garza, Leitica Cicero, and Bertina Vera, 94 n. 16 Heykel, Navina, 50 n. 19 Hills, Paul, 9 n. 37 Ho, Hsieh, 105–6 Hodgson, Marshall, 114 n. 42 Holbein, Hans, The Ambassadors, 4–5 Holly, Michael Ann, xvii Honour, Hugh, 41 n. 26, 48 n. 7, 49, 51 n. 29 Howard, Deborah, 7 nn. 24–25, 10 n. 39 Hung, Wu, xxiv, 110 n. 30, 113 Husak, Douglas, 122 n. 28, 137 n. 21 Ignatieff, Michael, 93 n. 14 Irwin, John, and P. R. Schwartz, 4 n. 11

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Index 

Irwin, Robert, 82 n. 32, 85 n. 49, 149 n. 36 Jairazbhoy, R. A., 4 n. 11 James, William, 65 n. 13, 66 Janácek, Leos, 63 Jardine, Lisa, 3 n. 7 Jardine, Lisa, and Jerry Brotten, 5 n. 11, 50 n. 17 Johnson, J. Theodore, 47 n. 3 Jones, Owen, 3–4 n. 8, 53 Jünger, Ernst, 117 K’ai-chih, Ku, 22, 38 Kant, Immanuel, xxiv–xxvi, 85–86, 117 Karmel, Pepe, 100 n. 47 Keay, John, 51 n. 21, 56 n. 52, 97 n. 34 Kennedy, Paul, 1 n. 1 Khaldun, Ibn, 99 Kinsley, David, 84 n. 40, 108 n. 17 Knight, Richard 108 n. 17 Kolb, Philip, 47 n. 3 Kramrisch, Stella, 36, 81 Kraus, Richard, 111 n. 32 Krauss, Rosalind, 149–50 Kuan, Wang, 54 Kubler, George, 75, 78 Küchel, Ernst, 4 n. 9, 53 n. 39 Labrusse, Remi, 53 n. 36 Lacoste, Yves, 123 n. 36 Lagerlöf, Margaretha, 148 n. 25 Lal, Deepak, 124 Landow, George, 127 Leaman, Oliver, 12 n. 42, 84 n. 41 Lee, Sherman, 22 n. 7, 52 n. 33 Lehmann, Phyllis, 44 n. 51 Levine, David, and Larry Silver, xxiii n. 5 Lewis, Bernard, 6 nn. 15, 17, 44 n. 42, 51 nn. 22–23, 122 n. 24 Linrothe, Bob, and Jeff Watt, 108 n. 18 Lord Macaulay, 41–42 n. 29 Lotto, Lorenzo, 9, 10 Lyotard, Jean-François, 27–28 Mack, Rosamond, 3–4 n. 11, 6 n. 21, 9 n. 34 Macpherson, C. B., 146 n. 15 Mahon, Denis, 23 Majumdar, R. C., H. C. Raychaudhuri, and Kalikinkar Datta, 100 n. 46 Mâle, Emile, 47 n. 3 Mangold, Robert, 118 Mansueti, Giovanni, 9, 11 Marguerye, M. R., 92 n. 6 Marx, Karl, 31 n. 23, 121, 132, 146

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1 69

Masheck, Joseph, 54 n. 42, 111 n. 31 Matisse, Henri, 52–53, 64 n. 12, 77, 150–52 McEvilley, Thomas, 107 n. 14, 117 McGann, Jerome, 57 n. 57 McNeill, William, 120 n. 14 Megill, Allan, 27 n. 12 Michener, Charles, 4 n. 11 Mill, John Stuart, xviii, 121–22 Mills, John, 3 n. 7, 4 n. 10, 54 n. 43 Mitchell, George, 42 n. 35, 49 n. 12 Mitter, Partha, 40 n. 23, 47, 50 n. 18, 72–73, 82 n. 29, 92 Mohammed, Dost (Dush), 76, 77, 82 Montanari, Tomaso, 27 n. 3 Moon, J. Donald, 96 n. 39, 133 n. 9 Moore-Gilbert, Bart, xiii n. 9 Morelli, Giovanni, xix n. 9 Morgenbesser, Sidney, xviii Mostafa, Mohamed, 37 n. 23 Mote, Frederick, 7 n. 11, 56 n. 53, 76 n. 3, 91 n. 2, 110 n. 29, 129 n. 64, 144 n. 6 Moxey, Keith, xii, xxiii Murerji, Chandra, 98 n. 42 Nagel, Thomas, xii n. 6 Nasr, Seyyed, 12 nn. 42, 45 Needham, Joseph, 22, 144 n. 9 Nehamas, Alexander, xx, 64 n. 9, 97 n. 32 Nehru, Jawaharlal, 124 Nietzsche, Friedrich, xviii, xxvi n. 18, 64, 97, 132, 145 Nozich, Robert 19, xviii n. 6 Olin, Margaret, 27 n. 11 Onians, John, 27, 57 Ouspensky, Leonide, 25 n. 23 Paihwa, Tsung, 112 n. 34 Painter, George, 47 n. 3 Panofsky, Erwin, 39, 42, 136 Papadopoudo, Alexandre, 85, 100 n. 46 Parekh, Bhikhu, xviii, 95 n. 22 Parfit, Derek, xviii, 26 n. 10, 67 n. 18, 68 n. 22, 72 Pater, Walter, 54, 123 n. 33 Patterson, Simon, 61–62 Pearson, Peter, 33 n. 30 Pines, S., 52 n. 30 Ping, Tsung, 148 Pinner, R., and M. Francis, 5 n. 11 Pinturicchio, 6 Podro, Michael, 28 n. 10 Pollock, Griselda, xxiii

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170  

Poussin, Nicolas, 23, 24, 147–49 Pradeem, Partha, 149–50 Proust, Marcel, 47, 55 Quine, Willard van Orman, xviii, 105 Raby, Julian, xxiii n. 1, 15 n. 57 Raphael, 42–43, 48, 79–80, 101–2 Rawls, John, xviii Rawson, Philip, 42 nn. 33–34, 48 n. 8, 100 n. 46, 106, 107 n,. 15–16, 108 n. 19, 128 nn. 59–60, 129 n. 62 Reff, Theodore, 7 n. 27 Restall, Matthew, 48 n. 9 Reynolds, Joshua, 107 Rice, D. Talbot, 37 n. 9, 50 n. 17, 82 Riegl, Alois, xxv n. 11, 4 n. 9, 53 Roberts, J. M., xxiii, 56 n. 54, 120 Rookmaaker, H. R., 98 n. 40 Rorty, Richard, 65 n. 14, 97 Rosenthal, Franz, 7 n. 22 Rowland, Benjamin, 99–100 n. 46 Roxburgh, David, 82 n. 31 Rui, Hai, 76 Ruskin, John, 19, 54, 119 n. 10 Russell, Bertrand, 64 n. 10 Said, Edward, xiii, 119, 143 n. 2 Saso, Michael, 109 n. 24 Scammell, G. V., 51 n. 27, 124 n. 37 Scarry, Elaine, 151 n. 47 Schapiro, Meyer, 47 n. 4, 133 n. 11 Schimmel, Annemarie, 55 Schneider, Pierre, 53 nn. 34, 35 Scott, David, 27 Scully, Sean, 21, 36–37 n. 7, 118, 133–34 Seidel, Lindel, 3 n. 4 Settis, Salvatore, and Toracca, Donatella, 6 n. 18 Sickman, Laurence and Alexander Soper, 23 nn. 38–39 Smart, Ninian, 105 n. 4 Soper, Alexander, 24 n. 18, 76 n. 4 Southern, R. W., 51 n. 22 Spivak, Gayatri, 98 n. 36 Spooner, Brian, 1 Spurling, Hilary, 152 Staniszewski, Mary, 25 n. 26 St. Clair, Alexandrine, 15 n. 57 Steinberg, Leo, 113, 118 Stokes, Adrian, 118 Sullivan, Michael, 43 n. 37

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Index

Summers, David, 27 Sylvester, David, 3 n. 7 Tadié, Jean-Yves, 47 n. 3 Tao-shun, Liu, 107 Taylor, Charles, 92 n. 7, 148 n. 27 Thomas, Nicholas, 5 n. 14 T’isu, Wu, 77 Titian, 21, 23, 137–38 Tömöry, Edith, 98 Toynbee, Arnold, xx Trilling, Lionel, 93 n. 11 Tsan, Ni, 24 Turner, Mark, 70 n. 27 Tyrrell, John, 63 n. 6 van der Weyden, Rogier, 135–36 van Eyck, Jan, 1–3 van Ranke, Leopold, 27 n. 13 Vasari, Giorgio, 27–28, 33 n. 29, 35, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 96, 145 Velázquez, Diego, 79–80 Vico, Giambattista, xviii Von Bode, Wilhelm, and Ernst Küchel, 3 n. 7 Vrnit, Stephen, 86 n. 51 Waardenburg, Jacques, 52 n. 31 Wallerstein, Immanuel, 33 n. 30 Walzer, Michael, 96 n. 26 Watkins, Ronald, 49 n. 10 Watson, William, 41 n. 28, 81 Welch, Anthony, 77 n.8 Welch, Stuart, 49 n. 11 Wen’keui, Yen, 24 Wiggins, David, 36 n. 3 Wilkins, David, Bernard Schultz, and Kathryn Linduff, 27 n. 15 Williams, Bernard, xxvi n. 17, 63 n. 5, 91 n. 1 Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 65 Wittkower, Rudolf, 3, 48 n. 5 Wölfflin, Heinrich, 79–80, 108 n. 22 Wollheim, Richard, vii–xviii, xii–xiii, 19–20, 21, 24, 70, 71, 78, 79–81, 82 n. 34, 86, 93 n. 12, 149 Wright, Alastair, 151 n. 44 Ydema, Onno, 3 n. 7 Yen-yüan, Chang, 76 Yiqiang, Cao, 99 n. 45 Yuanzhang, Zhu, 91 Yuchang, Ding, 147–49

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