How Do We Look: Book summary and reviews of How Do We Look by Mary Beard

How Do We Look

The Body, the Divine, and the Question of Civilization

by Mary Beard

How Do We Look by Mary Beard X
How Do We Look by Mary Beard

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Book Summary

From prehistoric Mexico to modern Istanbul, Mary Beard looks beyond the familiar canon of Western imagery to explore the history of art, religion, and humanity.

Conceived as a gorgeously illustrated accompaniment to "How Do We Look" and "The Eye of Faith," the famed Civilisations shows on PBS, renowned classicist Mary Beard has created this elegant volume on how we have looked at art. Focusing in Part I on the Olmec heads of early Mesoamerica, the colossal statues of the pharaoh Amenhotep III, and the nudes of classical Greece, Beard explores the power, hierarchy, and gender politics of the art of the ancient world, and explains how it came to define the so-called civilized world. In Part II, Beard chronicles some of the most breathtaking religious imagery ever made - whether at Angkor Wat, Ravenna, Venice, or in the art of Jewish and Islamic calligraphers - to show how all religions, ancient and modern, have faced irreconcilable problems in trying to picture the divine. With this classic volume, Beard redefines the Western-and male-centric legacies of Ernst Gombrich and Kenneth Clark.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Yet another triumph for Beard: a joy to read, too short for certain, packed with lessons quickly absorbed." - Kirkus

"Beard's clear and often witty prose is on full display and, as usual, her book is filled with historical detail, but the two sections fail to come together. There are enough intriguing morsels to satisfy longtime fans of Beard, but the book as a whole feels underdeveloped." - Publishers Weekly

"Recommended for fans of this popular author, the Civilizations program, and those looking for brief foray into an alternative form of art appreciation." - Library Journal

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Author Information

Mary Beard Author Biography

Photo: Robin Cormack

Mary Beard is the author of multiple books, including the NBCC finalist Confronting the Classics, and most recently, the best-selling SPQR. A popular blogger and television personality and a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, Beard is a professor of classics at the University of Cambridge.

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