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Art of Small Things


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About the Author

John Mack worked in the British Museum for twenty-eight years, latterly as Keeper of Ethnography and Senior Keeper. He continues to work on projects for the Museum alongside his role as Professor of World Art Studies at the University of East Anglia. He is well known as the author or editor of some thirteen books.


In this essay collection, Mack (formerly with the British Museum) draws from many cultures to meditate on the aesthetic and cultural values seemingly embodied in small works of art. His examples range from Aztec to Indian, English to Greek and cover many media. Beginning with a comparison of small works of art with the colossal, Mack discusses miniature portraits, maps, sculptures (usually of the human figure), talismans and fetishes, and the private nature of small pieces. At the juncture of ethnography, anthropology, and art history, the text incorporates the author's personal fieldwork and uses specific objects as springboards for discussion. Although occasionally a bit opaque for lay readers, the arguments are generally clear and focused, despite the rare typo or editorial gaffe. The illustrations, frequently with details, are good; some are larger than life, providing a sense of the wonder such tiny things can evoke. For advanced and academic collections.-Jack Perry Brown, Ryerson & Burnham Libs., Art Inst. of Chicago Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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