Late Antique, Early Christian and Medieval Art
by Meyer Schapiro

April, 1993
Paperback, 414 Pages
8.7 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches

ISBN: 978-0-8076-1295-8
$19.95 (Can: $30.00)

This fourth volume of Professor Meyer Schapiro's Selected Papers contains his most important writings - some well-known and others previously unpublished - on the theory and philosophy of art. Schapiro's highly lucid arguments, graceful prose, and extraordinary erudition guide readers through a rich variety of fields and issues: the roles in society of the artist and art, of the critic and criticism; the relationships between patron and artist, psychoanalysis and art, and philosophy and art. Adapting critical methods from such wide-ranging fields as anthropology, linguistics, philosophy, biology, and other sciences, Schapiro appraises fundamental semantic terms such as "organic style," "pictorial style", "field and vehicle," and "form and content"; he elucidates eclipsed intent in a well-known text by Freud on Leonardo da Vinci, in another by Heidegger on Vincent van Gogh. He reflects on the critical methodology of Bernard Berenson, and on the social philosophy of art in the writings of both Diderot and the nineteenth century French artist/historian Eugene Fromentin. Throughout all of his writings, Meyer Schapiro provides us with a means of ordering our past that is reasoned and passionate, methodical and inventive. In so doing, he revitalizes our faith in the unsurpassed importance of both critical thinking and creative independence.

"This fourth installment of Columbia professor emeritus Schapiro's selected writings reveals an erudite art historian of the first rank wrestling with basic issues. Sweeping from archaic art to classical, baroque, impressionist and modernist modes, he presents an analysis of artistic style as an embodiment of a whole culture. He brings a historical perspective to concepts of perfection, unity and beauty, and applies semiotics, the science of signs, to a discussion of figure-ground relationships from Stone Age cave paintings to Degas. Schapiro punches holes in Freud's interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings, arguing that psychoanalysis gives too little attention to the social situation in which an artwork is created. More specialized essays include a rebuttal of Martin Heidegger's analysis of a Van Gogh painting, a retracing of French critic-painter Eugene Fromentin's 1870s tour of Holland and Belgium, and a pointed critique of Bernard Berenson's shortcomings as art critic. Illustrated. (Sept.)"

--Publisher's Weekly

Considered to be a master of the essay, Meyer Schapiro (1904-1996) was a prolific art historian and critic who taught at Columbia University for over forty-years.