Category Archives: Art History

Siegfried Kracauer’s idea of ‘Mass Ornament’

Mass society as its own ornament was how the German social critic Siegfried Kracauer understood the street life of the dying years of the Weimar Republic. You can find this clever idea which brings us right to the present day … Continue reading

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A Conservative British Childhood Two Hundred Years Ago John Ruskin and his Parents

Ruskin born in February 1819 was five years old when his parents took him to visit the field of Waterloo. It was a moment in an heroic Tory childhood he might like to have remembered better. His autobiography Praeterita records his … Continue reading

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Getting away to Europe to write: an English confession

I had to get away from my desk. From the train window, on this nearly last day of April, the sun shone through a basin of mist somewhere in Essex.  Between glances through the thick window, the phrase ‘the ecstases … Continue reading

Posted in A Shoe Story, Art History, Cold War, Current Affairs, Europe, Philosophy and Philosophers, Who are you?, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Art, Wealth and Contemporary London: On a Film by Joanna Hogg

Exhibition is a fierce exposé of art and wealth in contemporary London. It’s the third film by British photographer turned director Joanna Hogg and it might be described as puzzling, minimalist and arthouse by turns. Hogg works repeatedly, like the … Continue reading

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The German 1930s and the Future of Art: more from A Shoe Story

When Heidegger commented on van Gogh’s painting ‘The Shoes’ (aka ‘Boots with Laces’) fifty years, from 1886 to 1936, had passed, and what fifty years, in Europe! Van Gogh himself had expected the nineteenth century to go out with a … Continue reading

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From the Life of a van Gogh critic: the debate over Diamat and the Run-in with Heidegger

The leading mid-20th century art critic Meyer Schapiro (1904-1996) was a funnel for the European ideas that rapidly modernized the American art scene between the wars. He was a superb commentator on van Gogh and Cézanne, and it was his … Continue reading

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“America” shouldn’t dominate our view of art: a view from the Shoe Story

Jacques Derrida put his finger on something when in 1977 he looked into an ‘American’ element in the Heidegger/van Gogh controversy. He found that when America’s then top art critic Meyer Schapiro attacked Heidegger for a ‘wrong’ reading of the … Continue reading

Posted in A Shoe Story, Art History, Philosophy and Philosophers, Things German, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment