Duncan and Terri talk to James Elkins about his books, criticism and more! Mike Benedetto provides an utterly hilarious movie review and public service announcement.
From Mr. Elkins’ web site: James Elkins grew up in Ithaca, New York, separated from Cornell University by a quarter-mile of woods once owned by the naturalist Laurence Palmer.
He stayed on in Ithaca long enough to get the BA degree (in English and Art History), with summer hitchhiking trips to Alaska, Mexico, Guatemala, the Caribbean, and Columbia. For the last twenty years he has lived in Chicago; he got a graduate degree in painting, and then switched to Art History, got another graduate degree, and went on to the PhD in Art History, which he finished in 1989. (All from the University of Chicago.) Since then he has been teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently E.C. Chadbourne Chair in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism. He also teaches in the Department of Visual and Critical Studies, and is Head of History of Art at the University College Cork, Ireland.
His writing focuses on the history and theory of images in art, science, and nature. Some of his books are exclusively on fine art (What Painting Is, Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles?). Others include scientific and non-art images, writing systems, and archaeology (The Domain of Images, On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them), and some are about natural history (How to Use Your Eyes).
Current projects include a book called Success and Failure in Twentieth-Century Painting, another called Writing about the World’s Art, and several edited books: a series called “The Art Seminar,” one called “Theories of Modernism and Postmodernism in the Visual Art.,” and edited books on W.G. Sebald, representations of pain in art, and the university-wide study of images.
He married Margaret MacNamidhe in 1994 on Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands, off the West coast of Ireland. Margaret is also an art historian, with a specialty in Delacroix. His interests include freshwater microscopy (with a Zeiss Nomarski differential interference microscope), optics (he owns an ophthalmologist’s slit-lamp microscope), stereo photography (with a Realist camera), playing piano, and winter ocean diving
New York Times
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I Am a Sex Addict
Direct download: Bad_at_Sports_Episode_70_James_Elkins.mp3
Happy New Year everybody!
From your pals at Bad at Sports.
oh thank goodness
bas – you have started my year off perfectly!
i shall enjoy my day off drawing and listening!
The last 4 seconds of this show are the funniest in the history of the show IMHO.
An excellent interview with James Elkins. He is an astonishingly agile and informed thinker who vexes the usual outlooks of art history by questioning the assumptions of visuality and art scholarship. Some part of his unusual ability may be credited to his being a painter as well as an art historian/art theorist. I’ve read most of his many books. My favorite is The Domain of Images (Cornell, 1999) but any of them is instructive, provocative, and articulate. Despite my wondering what the hell he was doing in his What Painting Is, Routlege, 1999, I’m always eager for whatever he publishes. And he keeps his scholar peers on edge!
Duncan, Terri, whoa what an interview. I had to turn off my ipod just to think during the rest of work. Thank you, both. I followed your rambling ramble-query well. And found it, the last four minutes, and all else great, thought-y, and funny.
Your bio of Elkins, however, seems to indicate that either his wife, Margaret, is a man, OR that French artist Delacroix likes oceanic diving in the winter and playing piano.
“He married Margaret MacNamidhe in 1994 on Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands, off the West coast of Ireland. Margaret is also an art historian, with a specialty in Delacroix. His interests include freshwater microscopy (with a Zeiss Nomarski differential interference microscope), optics (he owns an ophthalmologistâ€™s slit-lamp microscope), stereo photography (with a Realist camera), playing piano, and winter ocean diving”
Proof positive that you shouldn’t trust anyone’s website, that was a direct lift from his.
What Painting Is, is one of my favourite books on art, I also thought Why art Can’t Be Taught was pretty brilliant.
I loved What Painting Is.
Dang comments. Please help me.
J@simpleposie We will get you into some sort of treatment propgram!
“go stuff a ballot box elsewhere”
I have communicated in the past back and forth with Elkins because I loved several of his books. I first wrote to him long ago after reading one of his early books, and thoroughly enjoying it, and he was nice enough to answer, although he is clearly way too busy. Congratulations on this interview. I finally had time to listen to it (while walking my dogs) and loved it. As always, Elkins was very intellectually stimulating. Several of his thoughts made me want to rush off and do certain projects, which I find to be a great indicator of the importance of an article, book or interview — making it hard to finish them because they motivate you into wanting to leap up and accomplish things.
What a rewarding listen! Thanks for an excellent interview and discussion with such an important voice in contemporary criticism. Elkins can explain what seem to be very complicated connections in such simple terms. I wish I had his commentary on so many other important thinkers and works.
I am particularly interested in the Reenchantment lectures coming up. Why is Elkins the only one to breach this topic these days? I hope that BAS can do some follow up on this event.
Also, could an interview with the enigmatic Jerry Saltz be on the horizon? I’m sure hordes would tune in for that one! Just submitting a request…
I’ve met Jerry Saltz twice, and for some reason, both times I managed to really piss him off about my perspective on whatever topic we were discussing.
We’ll look into it.
Bush goes ballistic about other countries being evil and dangerous, because they have weapons of mass destruction. But, he insists on building up even a more deadly supply of nuclear arms right here in the US. What do you think? What is he doing to us, and what is he doing to the world?
What happened to us, people? When did we become such lemmings?
The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren’t living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.
You don’t really need or want that lifestyle, it might hurt y’all slowly more…….Just tell him you
don’t wanna repeat something your not too proud of z7uas.