PRINT Summer 1990


INASMUCH AS WE INHABIT a world choked with images, we are subject to an incessant barrage of fictions, each projected as some quantity of truth—or, at least, of credibility. The phenomenon is fueled, of course, by the mass media, but it implicitly involves the history of art. The mystical faith in symbolic figures, from primitive cultures to contemporary religious art; the authority granted to engravings and other printed pictures from both since and before the invention of photography; the tendency to accept historical, portrait, and other academic genres of painting and sculpture as if they were factually correct—all these examples of images’ reception by their audience illustrate that visual art has been a primary source of cultural misinformation, misrepresentation, mythification, persuasion, and hallucination. Whether unwittingly or quite intentionally, artists have rendered nature,

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