Released on 22 NOV 2012
Mr Collier's Letter Racks
Cracking the 300-year-old secret code that has eluded the art world and historians. Cultural historian Dror Wahrman shows that the mysterious games played by a unique illusionist painter hide a critique of a media revolution prefiguring modern concerns with the internet.
For 300 years, a unique and complex artistic puzzle has been hidden, the solution of which reveals an extraordinary critique of the first modern media revolution. The mind behind this puzzle was a Dutch still-life painter named Edward Collier. Working around 1700, Collier has been neglected, even forgotten, precisely because his secret messages have never been noticed, let alone understood. Until now.
Mr Collier’s Letter Racks reveals a major transformation of the 17th and 18th Century: an unprecedented explosion in cheap print - newspapers, pamphlets, informational publications, artistic prints - that was produced for immediate release and far-flung circulation faster and in larger quantities than ever before. Providing a commentary on Collier’s life, the book explores not only the history of a highly/newly commercial art world but also the transformations that characterised everyday lives of the period. It was this fertile environment which Edward Collier engaged with in a wholly original way, developing a secret language with which to imbue his still life paintings.
Dror Wahrman helps unravel the artworks’ minutely coded messages, witty games, intricate allusions and private jokes, all of which draw attention to the potential and pitfalls of this new information age, uncannily prefiguring the modern perspectives of the media-savvy 21st Century. This heretofore obscure artist embedded in his paintings an ingenious commentary on the media revolution of his period, on the birth of modern politics, and on art itself.
9780199738861 | £22.95 | 22 November 2012
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