Re: anthropology of art

N. Bannister - L. Maners (landn@AZSTARNET.COM)
Sat, 9 Mar 1996 20:40:55 -0700

In reply to Katerina's question, the field of anthropology which deals
with art is called "aesthetic anthropology" so that it includes all
aspects of human expressive culture. The classic reference is Maquet's
"Introduction to Aesthetic Anthropology" (1972?), and his more recent
work on Visual Experience. There have been a number of collections of
anthropological writings on art, a recent introduction to the field is
Hatcher's Anthropology of Art (sorry ,no pub data-I'm at home, e'ing on
our new Power Mac) There's also a review of the field in an article by
Flores in Dialectical Anthropology. I'll be glad to post the specific
citations if you need them. As to the "Black Square", I don't think we'd
see that cross-culturally, but it's an interesting thought.
Best Regards, Lynn

On Fri, 8 Mar 1996, Katerina Ailova wrote:

> I am a Czech student that only slightly opened the door of antropology, yet,
> took a strong interest in it.
> Writing my thesis on the minimalist tendencies in 20th century art (from
> Malevitch, Mondrian to Ad Reinhardt and the later minimalists), there is a
> question that I cannot so far answer.
> All the artists I mentioned, dealt in a way or other with using art as a
> means of "opening the doors to Universe" or touching the "absolute". The
> similarities in the way they express their thoughts on the subject are
> striking. All of this has a wider philosophical and religious context (from
> Hegel, through mysticism, theosophy up to taoistic and zen-buddhistic
> practices).
> My question is WHY did Malevitch and Reinhardt (Mondrian too, but in a
> different form) finally arrive at the MONOCHROMATIC BLACK SQUARE as the
> ultimate art form?
> Both of them refer to the viewer's concentrated attention that can
> take him, by means of the black square painting, through to Universe, the
> Absolute (or at least give him the sensation of those).
> Such a description reminds one of the meditative techniques of Eastern
> religions.
> I wonder if there exists a society in which a similar technique by which the
> spiritual leaders (shamans, gurus etc.) reach altered states of consciousness
> Also can a regular geometric grid (spatial or planar) have similar effects?
> I will welcome all opinions and references to books even more. One more
> question - is there a branch of anthropology that deals with issues of art
> and its functions in a given society (not necessarilly the Western one)?
> Thank you.
> Katerina Ailova, Prague.
> <>