In this book, Susan Kuechler and Timothy Carroll draw on the work of anthropologist Alfred Gell to reinstate the importance of the object in art. Rather than presenting art as a passive recipient of the artist's intention and the audience's critique, this book considers it in the social environment of its production and reception.
A Return to the Object introduces the reader to the historical and theoretical framework out of which an anthropology of art has emerged, and examines the conditions under which it has renewed interest. It also shows the reader what art 'does' as a social and cultural phenomenon, and how it can impact alternative ways of organising and managing knowledge. Using ethnography, museological practice, and the intellectual history of the arts and sciences, material studies and intangible heritage, the authors present a case for the re-orientation of current conversations surrounding the anthropology of art.
The book will be complemented by a companion website that will contain illustrations and case studies to aid student engagement.