Friday, March 1, 2013

A Review of Art and Money by Marc Shell

Here's my review of Marc Shell's Art and Money. I've put on amazon here so if you like it, as ever, please do pop over to amazon and 'like' it. I love getting a few 'likes', it really makes my day.



"This is a beautiful book. It's made me into a fan of Marc Shell's work.

I read Shell's 1982 work 'Money, Language and Thought' some months back. I found it a difficult work to digest. I'm not used to the language and style of literary criticism and had read only some of the literature he examined. But I got enough from the book to make me want to read 'Art and Money'.

I was rewarded. Having the image alongside the criticism is hugely effective. The arguments he makes are often complex, but then so is the subject matter. The book leaves you with more questions than it answers. The language used is also at times difficult. But the book is relatively short at 140 pages or so.

You get a sense of a deep-thinking man enthralled with his subject. I found the section on Christianity particularly fascinating. There is an element of psychoanalysis in Shell's work. It takes us to places where no other text on money has. For example, the Myth of Danae and the golden annunciation are scrutinised as representations of sex/money symbolism; a shower of gold from above. The theme of the Holy Grail (covered very well in 'Money, Language and Thought') reoccurs in Art and Money. Like money the Grail is 'both homogeneous and heterogeneous with all things' (p.20). And there is also the thorny issue of usury. That most unnatural form of reproduction, money from itself, is mentioned in several places. Most enthralling was placing it in the context of the immaculate conception.

There's even a chapter on the Holy foreskin.

It's quite an expensive book (I got mine secondhand) but I heartily recommend it. Shell has included some images of his own. I imagined them to be pictures he'd taken on overseas vacations where he just can't stop noticing the links between art and money and enthusiastically pulls out his camera to take a photo, possibly annoying the hell out of his traveling companions. And the book has a sort of on-a-journey feeling, really. It has a tempo to it. And whilst the terrain is challenging, your guide in the form of Shell is hugely well-informed, well-read and fascinated with his subject. You know he could have written a book twenty times as long, but instead composed a travel-log of the most interesting bits of his journey through Art and Money."

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