Views of Difference: Different views of Art

Prof. Catherine King, The Open University



Araeen, R. (1989) The Other Story, exhibition catalogue: South Bank Centre, Hayward Gallery, London.

Clunas, C. (1997) Art in China, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Edwards, S. (Ed.) (1998) Art and its Histories: A Reader, Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

Fardon, R. (1995) Counterworks : managing the diversity of knowledge, Routledge, London ; New York.

Hiller, S. (1991) The Myth of primitivism : perspectives on art, Routledge, London ; New York.

King, C. (1999) Views of difference : different views of art, Yale University Press, London.

Mitter, P. (1977) Much Maligned Monsters: A History of European Reactions to Indian Art, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Said, E. (1991) Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient, Penguin, Hardmonsworth.



This bibliography is geared to introducing students to the origins, uses and consequences of accounts of ‘Western’ and ‘non-Western’ art.

King provides an overview. The book is divided into two sections; the first looking at ‘Western’ attitudes to art made outside Europe before the period of colonialism (India) or beyond its control (China). It looks at the way different positions were taken: by a colonial observer, by historians associated with moves to achieve independence, and by scholars after the success of independence. The second half of the book looks at attitudes to art made outside Europe after colonial invasion, considering work made during colonial rule, during the fight for independence and after independence was achieved. The anthology of case studies is topped and tailed by essays looking at the way artists labelled as ‘non-Western’ here defined their own work against the stereotypes of ‘non-Western’ in European societies after colonialism had ceased.

Students need to look at texts which discuss the key concepts (i.e. hybridity, translation, appropriation, orientalism) and may do so in the collection of essays edited by Fardon and Hiller, as well as the text by Said (on literature but with influential concepts for Art History). It is important for them to look at some searching and lengthy studies.

Mitter’s book is a thorough historiographical analysis of the way European history represented art in India as declining. Clunas in Art in China stresses that some areas remained outside European colonial control, and were subject to rather different misrepresentations (such as art in China being ‘static’ and incapable of generating its own modernity)

The Other Story exhibition catalogue offers a case study of the issues considered of key importance with regard to artists designated as ‘non-Western’ working in a Western society. The catalogue could be supplemented by using the collection of newspaper reviews for the 1989 exhibition, printed in Art and its Histories: A Reader on pages 263-76.