Lives of Images (Reaktion Books - Picturing History)

Lives of Images (Reaktion Books - Picturing History)

Peter Mason

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 1861891148

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In the Lives of Images, Peter Mason examines four striking case studies involving the production and transmission of visual images of non-European peoples. Beginning with what has been taken to be the earliest three-dimensional European representation of Native Americans, he then focuses on the migration of such images via 16th century Meso-American codices to the murals painted by Diego Rivera four centuries later. Mason also looks at the relationship between drawing and engraving of natives of Formosa by Georges Psalmanaazaar, who never traveled to that country. Finally, he examines representations of the native peoples of Tierra del Fuego, from their first encounters with Europeans in the late 16th century to the present, paying particular attention to their visual traces in the work of such well-known artists as Odilon Redon.

Mason's fascinating study teases out some of the implications of these particular cases to discover a concept of the image that is both primary and can truly be said to have a life of its own.

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George Psalmanaazaar, An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa (London, ).  ‘Civis’, th century, drawing, Lambeth Palace Papers.  ‘A Burger, A Country Bumpkin, A Virgin, A Bride’, engraving from Psalmanaazaar, An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa … ,  ‘Rusticus’ (left) and ‘Vice Regina’, th century, drawings, Lambeth Palace Papers.  ‘The Viceroy’s Lady’, engraving from Psalmanaazaar, An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa … is

or metal strip arrangements frequently used by Bos lies in the leaf decorations of antique Italian, particularly Etruscan, art, and that a revival of these themes in the early sixteenth century had more to do with the discovery around  of the decorations in the Domus Aurea in Rome than with the influence of Americana. Dacos’ argument has enormous implications for those who set out to establish a corpus of images of America, because it calls into question the automatic way in which crowns

Tlazolteotl, taken from the Codex Borbonicus, but beneath this goddess of physicians, midwives and healers, Rivera included a panel illustrating the variety of plants used medicinally by Aztec healers, all meticulously copied from the Codex Badianus. Thus, having travelled from Mexico through Madrid to Rome, the Aztec images finally returned home.   Images and Objects The starting point for the previous chapter was the Codex Mendoza, whose images we followed in their travels to

the same function as an ex-voto.  This ability of an image to move freely from one context to another has a number of consequences. First, it makes it impossible for us to view the image as an ideological product. Of course, when it enters a specific cultural or historical context, an image can be given an ideological role to play, but when it moves on, it is capable of shaking off this ideological accretion and of fulfilling other, sometimes contradictory, roles. Images can make history,

children (four boys and two girls) to take them back to the Netherlands. These Fuegians did not survive the voyage. Another Dutch captain who was sailing in the same waters at the same time, Sebald de Weert, kidnapped a woman and her two children, whom he estimated to be four-and-a-half years and less than six months old respectively. The mother was put back on dry land with her baby two days later, but the eldest child was taken to Amsterdam and died there soon afterwards. Cornelis de Pauw

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