Adrian Stokes: Stones of Rimini
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This chapter is in a book on contemporary developments within the historiography of art. The premise of the book is that current literature on many major art historical figures is outdated; in recent years the priorities and thematics of art history have been reconfigured to reflect the accelerating influence of globalisation, the postcolonial and instabilities of gender and identity. My chapter looks at the significance of one of the art critic, Adrian Stokes’ books – Stones of Rimini – in relation to these new contexts. I argue that Stokes is uniquely placed at the intersection of two or more traditions of writing about art. His work can be situated in the canon of English aesthetic criticism (Hazlitt, Ruskin, Pater and Fry), and also within a more subversive contemporary notion of psychoanalytically informed theoretical writing. This manifests itself in a new understanding of the imaginative and emotional significance of medium in the work of art. This is evident in his analysis of Agostino di Duccio’s relief carving, where he talks about the stone being brought to life through the medium of the figure, rather than the other way around. His work also anticipates much cultural geography, looking at how the - often mythical - characteristics of particular places are maintained in the mind and passed down through a culture. The book represents the most recent developments in contemporary historiographical research and features chapters by Nuri Ratnam and David Bindman among others.
Fifty Key Texts in Art History, ed. D Newall and G Pooke, pp 77-81