The Quattro Cento: and Stones of Rimini (British Art and Visual Culture Since 1750)

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9780271022178: The Quattro Cento: and Stones of Rimini (British Art and Visual Culture Since 1750)
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Adrian Stokes (1902–1972) was a British painter and writer whose books on art have been allowed to go out of print despite their impact on Modernist culture and ongoing acclaim for their beauty and intellectual acuity. This new edition of The Quattro Cento and Stones of Rimini presents the original texts of 1932 and 1934 and furnishes them with introductions by David Carrier and Stephen Kite that will help readers grasp the structure and significance of what have become Stokes’s most widely-cited and influential books.

Written as parts of an incomplete trilogy, The Quattro Cento and Stones of Rimini mark a crossroads in the transition from late Victorian to Modernist conceptions of art, especially sculpture and architecture. Stokes continued, even extended, John Ruskin’s and Walter Pater’s belief that art is essential to the individual’s proper psychological development but wove their teaching into a new aesthetic shaped by his experience of psychoanalysis with Melanie Klein and recent innovations in literature, dance, and the visual arts.

Few writers have been able to invoke the material presence of works of art in the way Stokes does in The Quattro Cento and Stones of Rimini. They combine travel writing with acts of looking spun out so as to reinterpret the imposing legacy of the Italian Renaissance through an aesthetic of the direct carving of stone, which has parallels in the sculpture of Brancusi, Henry Moore, and Barbara Hepworth but was for Stokes the discovery of artists in fifteenth-century Italy. To his way of thinking, there then arose a realization that the materials of art "were the actual objects of inspiration, the stocks for the deepest fantasies." During the Renaissance, Stokes maintained, stone accordingly "blossomed" into sculpture and buildings, such as the Tempio Malatestiano, that throw "inner ferment outward into definite act and thought."

This new edition of Stokes’s pivotal books will be of interest to those concerned with art criticism, aesthetics, psychoanalysis and art, and the art and architecture of the Renaissance and Modern periods.

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Review:

“‘Poeta che mi guida’: I can think of no better words, the words of Dante about Virgil, to describe Stokes as a critic of the arts.”

—Richard Wollheim, Image in Form



“The republishing of these books is much to be welcomed. In them, Stokes examines fifteenth-century Italian sculpture and architecture from a point of view that has a particular resonance today. He achieved an unusual and compelling integration of art historical, art critical and aesthetic analysis. He also thought more deeply and wrote more eloquently about the aesthetics of sculpture and about the relation between sculpture and the architecture than any other writer on art of his time.”

—Alex Potts, University of Michigan



“Adrian Stokes's thought runs counter to all the orthodoxies of the present. He believed in Art. It was the antithesis of mass culture. He believed that it was our fate to see the inner life, our emotions good and bad, mirrored in the outside world; and that in very complex ways art symbolized that mirroring. The only thing that distinguished art from other useless activities was Form. He used that word in a way that was his alone. Art was present to him all at once, not qualified in an important way by precedence or chronology. Insisting on Art’s outwardness, his starting point was material: the sculptor’s stone or clay, the painter's color and canvas. He assumed that the viewer would summon to the contemplation of art, body-memories of hard and soft, texture and light, holes and solids, near and far, as well as the fantasies that attend those memories. The power of art was reparative. It projected wholeness.

Stokes wrote about these things with the passion of a great teacher and with the imaginative insight of a poet. His was a unique voice.”

—Andrew Forge, Yale University



“This welcome reissue prints both texts and photographs in as generous as a format as the originals, with illuminating introductory essays by Stephen Bann, David Carrier and Stephen Kite.

This reprint offers a world of insight that most contemporary writing about art still keeps at a distance.”

—Martin Golding, Times Literary Supplement



“This is an important work in the history of ideas, and essential reading for any student of Adrian Stokes. A very rewarding book.”

—Patrick Hutchings, Senior Fellow, Department of Philosophy, Australian Art Review



“Yet the greatest accolade that can be given to this new paperback edition and the scholars who contributed introductions to it is the fact that the intention is that of getting Stokes’s writings read. And this handsome edition, which retains the original illustrations, does precisely that.”

—Gabriele Neher, The Art Book



“Recollected in tranquillity, Renaissance sculpture shines more brightly because Adrian Stokes polished the stone.”

—Michael Ann Holly, Art Bulletin

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