Death of Authentic Primitive Art and Other Tales of Progress

ISBN-10: 0520212118
ISBN-13: 9780520212114
Edition: 1998
Authors: Shelly Errington
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Description: In this lucid, witty, and forceful book, Shelly Errington argues that Primitive Art was invented as a new type of art object at the beginning of the twentieth century but that now, at the century's end, it has died a double but contradictory death.  More...

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Book details

List price: $34.95
Copyright year: 1998
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 12/21/1998
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 338
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.188
Language: English

In this lucid, witty, and forceful book, Shelly Errington argues that Primitive Art was invented as a new type of art object at the beginning of the twentieth century but that now, at the century's end, it has died a double but contradictory death. Authenticity and primitivism, both attacked by cultural critics, have died as concepts. At the same time, the penetration of nation-states, the tourist industry, and transnational corporations into regions that formerly produced these artifacts has severely reduced supplies of "primitive art," bringing about a second "death." Errington argues that the construction of the primitive in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (and the kinds of objects chosen to exemplify it) must be understood as a product of discourses of progress--from the nineteenth-century European narrative of technological progress, to the twentieth-century narrative of modernism, to the late- twentieth-century narrative of the triumph of the free market. In Part One she charts a provocative argument ranging through the worlds of museums, art theorists, mail-order catalogs, boutiques, tourism, and world events, tracing a loosely historical account of the transformations of meanings of primitive art in this century. In Part Two she explores an eclectic collection of public sites in Mexico and Indonesia--a national museum of anthropology, a cultural theme park, an airport, and a ninth-century Buddhist monument (newly refurbished)--to show how the idea of the primitive can be used in the interests of promoting nationalism and economic development. Errington's dissection of discourses about progress and primitivism in the contemporary world is both a lively introduction to anthropological studies of art institutions and a dramatic new contribution to the growing field of cultural studies.

List of Illustrations
Preface
A Note on Punctuation and the Primitive
Introduction: Two Centuries of Progress
The Death of Authentic Primitive Art
Three Ways to Tell the History of (Primitive) Art
What Became Authentic Primitive Art?
The Universality of Art as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
The Death of Authentic Primitive Art
Authenticity, Primitivism, and Art Revisited
And Other Tales of Progress: Nationalism, Modernization, Development
Nationalizing the Pre-Columbian Past in Mexico and the United States
The Cosmic Theme Park of the Javanese
Making Progress on Borobudur
Afterword
Notes
References
Index
Illustration Credits

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