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In a small paperback barely 100 pages in length, but packed with thoughtful analysis, Gauss (The Aesthetic Theories of French Artists: From Realism to Surrealism [Johns Hopkins Press, 1966] $1.45) expounds the rationale of modern French painting. Covering the period from Courbet to surrealism, he approaches the problems. How do the artists themselves describe what they are doing? How do they regard what they are doing? The artists' own concepts and expressions, often taken from obscure sources and translated, form the basis of this book. With these views to underlie the further discussion, Gauss shows how art trends fit into the dominant philosophies.
The work, first published in 1949 and now reprinted as a paperback, is a fascinating study in aesthetics. It shows that art appreciation is not a subject to be considered in isolation, but that it interdigitates with other aspects of our culture.
The meaning is not always
Art. JAMA. 1967;200(1):50-52. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120140108020