Author Camille Paglia is a respected social critic who is also in academia. In her latest book 'Glittering Images' she discusses themes in Western Art. I will share chapters 1-4 by discussing art that has influenced our world.
In Paglia’s twelve page introduction she discusses art and civilization.
She begins by saying, "A society that forgets art risks losing its soul."
Is that not a poignant statement in today’s world?
According to nymag(dot)com, on March 6, 2015 they reported, "How ISIS is destroying Ancient Art in Iraq and Syria." This is truly a sad state of affairs for archaeologists and humanity around the world.
Most nations are united in mourning the loss of these historical treasures and vow to exhibit a heightened awareness of these atrocities.
Chapter 1 - Resurrection: Queen Nefertari.
You may ask, "Did she misspell her name?"
No, this chapter is not about Nefertiti, but Nefertari, the first wife of King Ramses II of Egypt.
The image Paglia refers to is a surprisingly colorful image from the tomb of Nefertari: Queen Nefertari and the Goddess Isis.
From an artistic perspective, the artists in ancient Egypt painted figures that show their heads, hips and feet in profile, while their eyes, shoulders, and chests are seen from the front.
This artistic style is certainly identifiably Egyptian.
Chapter 2 - Mystic Vision: Idols of the Cyclades
Cycladic art is from the early Bronze Age (3500-2300 BC).
The figures were carved from fine white marble and they were only discovered in the late 19th c.
They can be shown standing or seated and many artists such as: Constantine Brancusi, Amedeo Modigliani, Henry Moore, and Alberto Giacometti were greatly influenced by these sculptures from the Cyclades Islands.
I am truly fascinated by these small artifacts and I was pleased to see a Cycladic collection in the British Museum.
Chapter 3 – The Race: Charioteer of Delphi
This Greek bronze sculpture from 475 BC is rare, as most were destroyed and melted down for their metal.
It was excavated in 1896 near the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, which was in ruins.
It now resides in the Archaeological Museum, Delphi, Greece.
The sculpture of the Charioteer of Delphi may seem obscure, but I recently did a double take when I was reading Architectural Digest, August 2015, and a "circa 1890 copy" of same is shown in a guest bedroom in Mexico.
Chapter 4 – Roof of Air: Porch of the Maidens
These maidens can be identified due to the characteristics of: loose braided hair, 'wet look' robes, and shapely figures.
These 'caryatids' are columns shaped like women.
One of the caryatids, from the Porch of the Maidens, was removed by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to Constantinople, as well as other 'Elgin Marbles.'
The debate over ownership is certainly not over.
In May 2015, barrister Amal Clooney advised Greece to sue Britain for the historic 'Elgin Marbles.'
To date, Greece has rejected the legal advice, citing costs during a time of economic crisis.
I have seen the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum and they are truly remarkable works of art.
Now that I have wet your appetite for Camille Paglia's outstanding book, you can own "Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars," available here from Amazon.com.