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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Darker Shades

The Racial Other in Early Modern Art

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Darker Shades

The Racial Other in Early Modern Art

Difference exists; otherness is constructed. This book asks how important Western artists, from Giotto to Titian and Caravaggio, and from Bosch to Dürer and Rembrandt, shaped the imaging of non-Western individuals in early modern art. Victor I. Stoichita’s nuanced and detailed study examines images of racial otherness during a time of new encounters of the West with different cultures and peoples, such as those with dark skins: Muslims and Jews. Featuring a host of informative illustrations and crossing the disciplines of art history, anthropology, and postcolonial studies, Darker Shades also reconsiders the Western canon’s most essential facets: perspective, pictorial narrative, composition, bodily proportion, beauty, color, harmony, and lighting. What room was there for the “Other,” Stoichita would have us ask, in such a crystalline, unchanging paradigm?

240 pages | 70 color plates, 7 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2019

Art: Art Criticism

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“Stoichita begins his new book—Darker Shades: The Racial Other in Early Modern Art—with the premise that underlies it: ‘Difference exists, otherness is constructed.’ It is a powerful, and deceptively simple, opening line. He continues by observing that otherness is dependent on the ‘self’; in short, that one cannot exist without the other, neither otherness nor the ‘self.’ Again, the idea is simple enough, self-evident even. That all is not as straightforward as it might seem, however, is revealed in the statement that follows: ‘[. . .] the Self is the Other of the Other, just as the Other is the Other of the Self.’ The issue is as convoluted as the prose is beautiful. It would seem that a book on the ‘racial other’ needs first to address the ‘self.’”

Art History

"Stoichita’s wide-ranging book shows that although difference exists, otherness is constructed. This is elegantly illustrated by European images of Blacks, Jews, Turks, and Gypsies from the early modern period."

Jean Michel Massing, King’s College, Cambridge

"With impeccable historical scholarship, a subtle attention to minute pictorial details, and acute anthropological insight, Stoichita shows how Otherness is portrayed in the images of the early European modernity; not the conspicuous monsters and exotic figures brought back from the first colonial encounters, but the internal Otherness, that of Jews, Gypsies, Blacks, and Muslims, whose discreet presence in the midst, or at the immediate periphery, of Western societies became a foil to emphasize by contrast the virtues of Christian identity. A major contribution to the historical anthropology of Europe in the making."

Philippe Descola, chair in anthropology of nature, Collège de France

"A remarkable and highly original book that manages to be both rich in ideas and closely analytical of the paintings, while staking out a completely new field of studies."

David Bindman, emeritus professor of the history of art, University College London

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