|About the Book|
Colleges and universities used to teach art history to encourage connoisseurship and acquaint students with the riches of our artistic heritage. But now, as Roger Kimball reveals in this book, the student is less likely to learn about the aestheticsMoreColleges and universities used to teach art history to encourage connoisseurship and acquaint students with the riches of our artistic heritage. But now, as Roger Kimball reveals in this book, the student is less likely to learn about the aesthetics of masterworks than to be told, for instance, that Peter Paul Rubens great painting Drunken Silenus is an allegory about anal rape. Or that Courbets famous hunting pictures are psychodramas about castration anxiety. Or that Gauguins Manao tupapau is an example of the way repression is written on the bodies of women. Or that Winslow Homers The Gulf Stream is a visual encoding of racism. In The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art, Kimball, an art critic and essayist, shows how academic art history is increasingly held hostage to radical cultural politics - feminism, cultural studies, postcolonial studies and other weapons in the armory of academic anti-humanism. To make his point, Kimball describes the way seven famous works of art - all beautifully reproduced in this volume - have been reinterpreted by contemporary art historians to fit a radical ideological fantasy. He then performs a series of intellectual rescue operations, explaining how these great works should be understood through a series of illuminating readings in which art, not politics, guides the discussion. The Rape of the Masters exposes the charlatanry that stands behind much academic art history and oozes into the art world generally. It also provides an antidote to the tendentious, politically motivated assaults on our treasured sources of culture and civilization that are occurring not only in our universities but in our museums and art galleries as well.