Forthcoming | The Politics of the Provisional

Posted in books by Editor on December 8, 2012

From Penn State UP:

Richard Taws, The Politics of the Provisional: Art and Ephemera in Revolutionary France (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2013), 232 pages, ISBN: 978-0271054186.

978-0-271-05418-6mdIn revolutionary France, materiality was not easily achieved. The turmoil of war, shortages, and frequent changes in political authority meant that few large-scale artworks or permanent monuments to the Revolution’s memory were completed. On the contrary, as this book argues, visual practice in revolutionary France was characterized by the production and circulation of a range of transitional, provisional, ephemeral, and half-made images and objects. Addressing this mass of images conventionally ignored in art-historical accounts of the period, The Politics of the Provisional contends that widely distributed, ephemeral, or “in-between” images and objects were at the heart of contemporary debates on the nature of political authenticity and historical memory. Provisionality had a politics, and it signified less the failure of the Revolution’s attempts to historicize itself than a tactical awareness of the need to continue
the Revolution’s work.

Richard Taws is Lecturer in the History of Art, University College London.

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The Politics of the Provisional engages with several historiographies within the sprawling subject of the French Revolution. It is very difficult to find a really original take on just about any aspect of the Revolution, but Richard Taws does. This is quite a feat.”
—Katherine Crawford, Vanderbilt University

“What Richard Taws offers is a series of concepts with which to frame French Revolutionary visual culture: to the notion of the provisional, he adds currency, identity, circulation, temporal rupture, media transgression, and mimetic dissimulation. Not only are the arguments and formal analyses moored to original material, but they are so cogently structured that it is hard to see them as anything but convincing. Art historians have much to learn from the approach Taws takes. He renders an entire realm of images and objects foundational to our understanding of the production, status, and meaning of representation in the 1790s—and, in so doing, he develops models for thinking about the relation of the visual to political upheaval more generally. This is one of the most sophisticated accounts of material culture I have read.”
—Erika Naginski, Harvard University

“This brilliant and profoundly original book makes us see the French Revolution with new eyes. Richard Taws is emerging as one of the major new voices in writing about the French Revolution and visual politics in general.”
—Lynn Hunt, University of California, Los Angeles

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