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Primitive Art in Civilized Places

Second Edition

What is so "primitive" about primitive art? And how do we dare to use our standards to judge it? Drawing on an intriguing mixture of sources-including fashion ads and films, her own anthropological research, and even comic strips like Doonesbury—Price explores the cultural arrogance implicit in Westerners’ appropriation of non-Western art.

"[Price] presents a literary collage of the Western attitude to other cultures, and in particular to the visual art of the Third and Fourth Worlds. . . . Her book is not about works of ’primitive art’ as such, but about the Western construction ’Primitive Art.’ It is a critique of Western ignorance and arrogance: ignorance about other cultures and arrogance towards them."—Jeremy Coote, Times Literary Supplement

"The book is infuriating, entertaining, and inspirational, leaving one feeling less able than before to pass judgment on ’known’ genres of art, but feeling more confident for that."—Joel Smith, San Francisco Review of Books

"[A] witty, but scholarly, indictment of the whole primitive-art business, from cargo to curator. And because she employs sarcasm as well as pedagogy, Price’s book will probably forever deprive the reader of the warm fuzzies he usually gets standing before the display cases at the local ethnographic museum."—Newsweek

176 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1989, 2001

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Art: Art--General Studies

Culture Studies

Table of Contents

1. The Mystique of Connoisseurship
2. The Universality Principle
3. The Night Side of Man
4. Anonymity and Timelessness
5. Power Plays
6. Objets d’Art and Ethnographic Artifacts
7. From Signature to Pedigree
8. A Case in Point
References Cited
Illustration Credits

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