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The Art of Small Things by John Mack

The Art of Small Things

by John Mack

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I was surprised to find this book on a sale of a major book chain. Published in 2007 by the British Museum Press was it a case of market saturation or despite the innovative title and covering theme ... Miniature masterpieces, this work did not sell and it was time to dispatch to the remainder tables, It is a pity to see such a fine book on a sale table . it is a title that should shoot up the collecting league, The appeal lies in the quality of all aspects of the book. The text is academic , erudite, knowledgeable and informative. The scholarship is deep and while dry in tone the ideas sparkle. There is a comprehensive set of research end notes, a bibliography if you wish to read further and a professional index. The objects selected are fascinating as they are all items to be found in the British Museum ( I would have liked a list of where each is to be found in the BM). The photography is superb and there are over 200 coloured illustrations to give you a visual delight ... It is as close as you are going to get to being in the museum and seeing the object.... Sometimes you get a better view in a photograph. Some photographs highlight detail . As an example of the modern art of the book in itself the book is of the high standard set by the Britisg Museum Press and has been beautifully produced. it is a book that looks good and feels good and belongs in a library of substance. , John Mack was a keeper of Ethnography at the British Museum so that his perspective is anthropological and cultural. The concept of "small things " is a device to focus on diverse objects and items and to make connections between so many different small things from a broad spread of societies through more than 1000 years. jewellery , dolls, maps, chessmen, paintings, carvings, gold weights introduces the student to so many lovely micro or miniature objects, that came to be gathered and displayed in the British museum. Having read about all these items one is drawn to the museum on a treasure hunt to find and to view . I was surprised that while I had seen some of these masterpieces , for example the Lewis Chessmen and the Elizabethan medallions there is so much that I had not seen or if seen had been submerged in museum fatigue, The pleasure of a book of this quality is that one can dip into it at leisure and return to view the objects time and again . It is a book that parallels Neil MacGregor's. A History of the
World in 100 objects (MacGregor has been the Director of the British Museum since 2002 and his book is based a BBC Radio 4 series. There is also an excellent British Museum book on the 18th Century enlightenment , which sets the scene as to why collect and how curiosity and exploration with a purpose led to the British museum coming into existence and why it is a world class institution . Of course what is not discussed (rather off topic) is
whether all these amazing treasures from remote cultures or archaeological sites should be gathered in a museum in London , giving the capital a focal point of world culture or should objects plundered, looted ,purchased, unearthed and saved be returned to their original sites of discovery or cultural homes. While Mack's book is not a handbook to collecting it will give a collector who is ready to sink himself in scholarship a new framework and point of reference for searching, hunting and gathering today. ( )
  Africansky1 | Jan 24, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674026934, Hardcover)

There is a true fascination with all things miniature and with the skills involved in creating a miniature work of art. Speaking of such works, anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss remarked that "all miniatures seem to have an intrinsic aesthetic quality." And who could fail to be beguiled by an exquisite Elizabethan miniature painting, an intricately carved Japanese netsuke, the words of the Lord's Prayer engraved on a minute jewelled clasp, or the gemlike perfection of an eighteenth-century Italian micro-mosaic?

This richly illustrated book celebrates the art of the miniature, but also looks beyond it at the many aspects of "small worlds"--in particular, their capacity to evoke responses that far exceed their physical dimensions. Author John Mack explores the talismanic, religious, or magical properties with which miniatures are often imbued. Considering a wide range of objects--from Mughal miniature paintings, ancient Egyptian amulets, Ashanti gold weights, and Aztec jade figures to Hindu temple carts, English prints and drawings, classical Greek jewelry, maps, mosaics, models, and magical gems--he examines the use of the miniature form in various cultural contexts. He also assesses the importance of scale and questions the definition of "miniature." How large or small can a miniature be? Is a map a miniaturization of a larger world? What is the point of an object that is almost too small to be seen by the human eye? From Gulliver to King Kong, classical art to surrealism, Aristotle to the Yoruba, The Art of Small Things shows us, in fine detail, the exquisite and the esoteric, the wondrous and the weird.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:34 -0400)

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