Book Cover
Author Elkins, James, 1955-

Title Why are our pictures puzzles? : on the modern origins of pictorial complexity / James Elkins
Published New York : Routledge, 1999


Location Call no. Vol. Availability
 MELB  750.19 Elk/Wao  AVAILABLE
Description xvii, 302 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents Introduction: Mutilated Fire Unite -- Pt. 1. Considering Things. 1. The Evidence of Excess. 2. What Counts as Complexity? -- Pt. 2. Staying Calm. 3. How to Solve Picture Puzzles. 4. An Ambilogy of Painted Meanings. 5. On Monstrously Ambiguous Paintings. 6. Calming the Delirium of Interpretation -- Pt. 3. Losing Control. 7. Hidden Images: Cryptomorphs, Anamorphs, and Aleamorphs. 8. The Best Work of Twentieth-Century Art History. 9. Envoi: On Meaninglessness
Summary Consistently intriguing and challenging, Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles? is not an exploration of what is the truth about paintings, but why the most interesting paintings are puzzles
What is it about modern life that makes us see enigmas and puzzles in images? Has our world become more complex or are we struggling to make meaning where there is none?
With bracing clarity, James Elkins explores why images are taken to be more intricate and hard to describe in the twentieth century than they had been in any previous century. Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles? uses three models to understand the kinds of complex meaning that pictures are thought to possess: the affinity between the meanings of paintings and jigsaw-puzzles; the contemporary interest in ambiguity and "levels of meaning"; and the penchant many have to interpret pictures by finding images hidden within them. Elkins explores a wide variety of examples, from the figures hidden in Renaissance paintings to Salvador Dali's paranoiac meditations on Millet's Angelus, from Persian miniature paintings to jigsaw-puzzles. He also examines some of the most vexed works in art history, including Watteau's "meaningless" paintings, Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling, and Leonardo's Last Supper
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages [261]-292) and index
Subject Communication in art.
Painting -- Psychological aspects.
Painting -- Psychology.
Picture interpretation.
LC no. 97047282
ISBN 041591941X (cloth : acid-free paper)
0415919428 (paper : acid-free paper)