How Do We Look: The Body, the Divine, and the Question of Civilization

How Do We Look: The Body, the Divine, and the Question of Civilization

Conceived as a gorgeously illustrated accompaniment to “How Do We Look” and “The Eye of Faith,” the famed Civilisations shows on PBS, renowned classicist Mary Beard has created this elegant volume on how we have looked at art. Focusing in Part I on the Olmec heads of early Mesoamerica, the colossal statues of the pharaoh Amenhotep III, and the nudes of classical Greece, Be...

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Title:How Do We Look: The Body, the Divine, and the Question of Civilization
Author:Mary Beard
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How Do We Look: The Body, the Divine, and the Question of Civilization Reviews

  • Luis Cuesta

    I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. To star I wold say that Mary Beards book is a joy to read, too short for certain and packed with lessons quickly absorbed.Thebook is filled with historical details and Beard’s ideas about the images of gods are fascinating, especially with regard to the Ajanta Cave drawings in India, which force viewers to actively interpret their complexity, searching for truth and faith in the darkness. Even more thought-provoking is the Islamic use of calligraphy,

    I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. To star I wold say that Mary Beard´s book is a joy to read, too short for certain and packed with lessons quickly absorbed.Thebook is filled with historical details and Beard’s ideas about the images of gods are fascinating, especially with regard to the Ajanta Cave drawings in India, which force viewers to actively interpret their complexity, searching for truth and faith in the darkness. Even more thought-provoking is the Islamic use of calligraphy, more symbolic than practical, bridging the gap between art and the written word.Overall and most important, in the book she has come up with her own narrative and personal vision of art.

  • Tessy Consentino

    Fascinating read on art and sculpture and how people from long ago memorialized themselves and others.

  • Lily Green

    Very informative and easy to read prose! This would be a fantastic addition to a 100 level art history class.

  • Margaret Sankey

    A beautiful and witty art survey, about one of my favorite subjects--people and how they represent themselves. What does it mean politically and socially to be painted "warts and all," or as a hundred foot tall, bare-chested incarnation of Ra? Beard carefully chooses pieces from around the world, setting them in context and revealing how they illustrate the culture's sense of self, power, gender and imagination.

  • Joshua

    How Do We Look offers the reader a question well worth exploring: how do humans use art to explain how they think and feel about themselves. This is a question stolen directly from an Intro to Art syllabus, but it is a question worth asking because human imagination is arguably the most powerful force in the known universe. It can literally impact the physical world as humans create visions based upon their experiences and perceptions and imaginings, and Beard takes her reader through the centur

    How Do We Look offers the reader a question well worth exploring: how do humans use art to explain how they think and feel about themselves. This is a question stolen directly from an Intro to Art syllabus, but it is a question worth asking because human imagination is arguably the most powerful force in the known universe. It can literally impact the physical world as humans create visions based upon their experiences and perceptions and imaginings, and Beard takes her reader through the centuries of the human experience to show how humans have channeled their imagination into creating some of the greatest artistic wonders of the world.

    How We Look is not always as in-depth as I would have liked, but Beard's works tend to leave the reader inspired to begin their own explorations. The value of a book like How Do We Look is how it can inspire new readers, or even experienced readers, to contemplate the purpose and function of art and remind us how art can impact our reality.

    Whether it's sculpting boxers out of bronze or literally carving a temple into the side of the mountain, human beings create. It's worth a moment of the reader's time to ask themselves where and why that impulse exists, and what they could or should do with it.

  • Patrycja

    I guess I was expecting a different read or maybe different format of this book.

    This is basically research based on sculptures and art through centuries to show how human interpreted and had looked at art.

    Different cultures and different traditions would show a person in a different way.

    And depending on who was looking at the statues, they would see something different in the art.

    The sculptures and art varied and were changing through centuries.

    F.ex. the Greek statues often showed a man naked

    I guess I was expecting a different read or maybe different format of this book.

    This is basically research based on sculptures and art through centuries to show how human interpreted and had looked at art.

    Different cultures and different traditions would show a person in a different way.

    And depending on who was looking at the statues, they would see something different in the art.

    The sculptures and art varied and were changing through centuries.

    F.ex. the Greek statues often showed a man naked, while Egyptian one not. Through time sculptured human would also change appearance, poses. They became more lively.

    Religion, status had also impact on how the statues were seen.

    There are a lot of images accompanying the book, which I is very helpful and informative.

  • Katie

    I really like Mary Beard and her perspective on human civilization through her expertise in antiquity. This book focuses on the question of who are we when we are looking at art, not only how do we see art, but how does art reflect our gaze. Using numerous examples of ancient figurative art from the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Olmec, and Chinese she tries to find the role of the viewer. Next she turns to the religious structures from multiple major religions to explore where the gods are in the a

    I really like Mary Beard and her perspective on human civilization through her expertise in antiquity. This book focuses on the question of who are we when we are looking at art, not only how do we see art, but how does art reflect our gaze. Using numerous examples of ancient figurative art from the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Olmec, and Chinese she tries to find the role of the viewer. Next she turns to the religious structures from multiple major religions to explore where the gods are in the art, and where the people are.

    It is fascinating, provocative and well argued.

  • Patricia

    This was accessible and interesting, which are two things I wouldn't often say about art history.

  • Joseph

    This book is, to the best of my knowledge, a companion to the new rendition of "Civilizations" that aired on PBS a few months ago. If you have not watched the new series, I highly recommend it. Among others, this book primarily explores how we look at figures from a western bias, as well as how faith has influenced how we interpret and understand images.

    As a teacher of art history, I found the series "Civilizations" extremely useful and engaging for both myself and my students. That being said

    This book is, to the best of my knowledge, a companion to the new rendition of "Civilizations" that aired on PBS a few months ago. If you have not watched the new series, I highly recommend it. Among others, this book primarily explores how we look at figures from a western bias, as well as how faith has influenced how we interpret and understand images.

    As a teacher of art history, I found the series "Civilizations" extremely useful and engaging for both myself and my students. That being said, I cannot highly recommend this companion book. I do not believe it adds anything substantial to what I have already watched. If I had NOT watched the series, then I would have found it difficult to find my footing in this book. The main problem is that unfortunately, just as Mary lets you in on some clever insight, she does not really expound upon it, or go further than a short paragraph about it. For example, Beard provides a cursory examination of the impact of realism in art in her chapter, "The Stain on the Thigh." The devotion of an entire chapter to what is one of many anecdotal reprisals, wets the appetite of the reader but provides no in depth analysis. One would think that a follow up book would be the perfect opportunity to go further into the discussions that began in the series. Sadly, when I was done reading, I felt like I had wasted my time and money.

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