December 4, 2012 by Reader's Connection
Camille Paglia’s Glittering Images: A Journey through Art from Egypt to Star Wars may be the sort of book that you’re supposed to read straight through, but I’m bouncing around. I read about Queen Nefertari and the Cycladic idol, then shot forward to Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych, then back to the Porch of the Maidens in Athens.
As her subtitle indicates, Paglia moves chronologically. Each of her 29 chapters focuses on a period of art history, which she describes briefly before focusing briefly on the work in hand. I’m putting the book on my 2012 gift suggestion list because someone on your gift list will get a kick out of it and probably learn something, even while disagreeing with some of the author’s judgments. (Frida Kahlo is mentioned only when Paglia tosses a grenade over the wall at her, while enthusing about Tamara de Lempicka and Art Deco.)
Since I don’t know much about art, Glittering Images was full of revelations. Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, for example, “came to hate green: he pulled the shades down on trains and demanded to switch chairs in cafés to avoid seeing trees.” That was news to me, and will come to mind when I look at his paintings from now on.
But even my wife, who knows a lot more than I do, is curious. She has read a couple of chapters, is wondering how Paglia made her selections, and wants to read more. So an art-savvy gift-recipient might enjoy the book.