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The Judgment of Paris

Drawing on Freudian theories of sexuality and Kant’s conception of the beautiful, French art historian Hubert Damisch considers artists as diverse as Raphael, Picasso, Watteau, and Manet to demonstrate that beauty has always been connected to ideas of sexual difference and pleasure. Damisch’s tale begins with the judgment of Paris, in which Paris awards Venus the golden apple and thus forever links beauty with desire. The casting of this decision as a mistake—in which desire is rewarded over wisdom and strength—is then linked to theories of the unconscious and psychological drives. In his quest for an exposition of the beautiful in its relation to visual pleasure, Damisch employs what he terms “analytic iconology,” following the revisions and repetitions of the motif of the judgment through art history, philosophy, aesthetics, and psychoanalysis. This translation brings an important figure of the French art historical tradition to Anglo-American audiences.

396 pages | 116 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1996

Art: European Art

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Translator’s Note
Pt. 1: Beauté mon beau souci
1: This Nothing That Psychoanalysis Has Had to Say about Beauty
2: The Future of an Emotion
3: Freud with Kant? The Enigma of Pleasure
4: Cherchez la femme: Beauty in Relations between the Sexes
Pt. 2: Judgment of Paris
5: A Woman, Then: Le Dejeuner sur Pherbe
6: Raphael Invenit: The Masterpiece as Interlude
7: The Story without the Picture: The Myth-Work
8: The Theme of Choosing
9: "Remember Paris": The Genealogy of Europe
10: The Supplement: Painting, Body and Soul
11: Turns, Returns, and Dodges
12: Paris Judged: The Reserve Side of the Picture

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