Alfred Gell: Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory (1998)

14 September 2014, dusan

“Alfred Gell puts forward an anthropological theory of visual art seen as a form of instrumental action: the making of things as a means of influencing the thoughts and actions of others. He argues that existing anthropological and aesthetic theories take an overwhelmingly passive point of view, and questions the criteria that accord art status only to a certain class of objects and not to others. The anthropology of art is here reformulated as the anthropology of a category of action: Gell shows how art objects embody complex intentionalities and mediate social agency. He explores the psychology of patterns and perceptions, art and personhood, the control of knowledge, and the interpretation of meaning, drawing upon a diversity of artistic traditions-European, Indian, Polynesian, Melanesian, and Australian.”

With a Foreword by Nicholas Thomas
Publisher Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1998
ISBN 0198280149, 9780198280149
272 pages
via mrcds

Reviews: Michèle Coquet (L’Homme, 2001, FR), Ross Bowden (Oceania, 2004).
Commentary: Robert Layton (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2003).


PDF (68 MB, updated on 2015-3-28)
EPUB (4 MB, added on 2014-9-14 via Marcell)

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