web site hit counter The Whole Picture: The colonial story of the art in our museums... and why we need to talk about it - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Whole Picture: The colonial story of the art in our museums... and why we need to talk about it

Availability: Ready to download

If you think art history has to be pale, male and stale - think again. Should museums be made to give back their marbles? Is it even possible to 'decolonise' our galleries? Must Rhodes fall? From the stolen Wakandan art in Black Panther, to Emmanuel Macron's recent commitment to art restitution, and Beyoncé and Jay Z's provocative music video filmed in the Louvre, the questi If you think art history has to be pale, male and stale - think again. Should museums be made to give back their marbles? Is it even possible to 'decolonise' our galleries? Must Rhodes fall? From the stolen Wakandan art in Black Panther, to Emmanuel Macron's recent commitment to art restitution, and Beyoncé and Jay Z's provocative music video filmed in the Louvre, the question of decolonising our relationship with the art around us is quickly gaining traction. People are waking up to the seedy history of the world's art collections, and are starting to ask difficult questions about what the future of museums should look like. In The Whole Picture, art historian and Uncomfortable Art Tour guide Alice Procter provides a manual for deconstructing everything you thought you knew about art, and fills in the blanks with the stories that have been left out of the art history canon for centuries. The book is divided into four chronological sections, named after four different kinds of art space: The Palace The Classroom The Memorial The Playground Each section tackles the fascinating and often shocking stories of five different art pieces, including the propaganda painting that the East India Company used to justify its control in India; the Maori mokomokai skulls that were traded and collected by Europeans as 'art objects'; and Kara Walker's controversial contemporary sculpture A Subtlety, which raised questions about 'appropriate' interactions with art. Through these stories, Alice brings out the underlying colonial narrative lurking beneath the art industry today, and suggests different ways of seeing and thinking about art in the modern world. The Whole Picture is a much-needed provocation to look more critically at the accepted narratives about art, and rethink and disrupt the way we interact with the museums and galleries that display it.


Compare

If you think art history has to be pale, male and stale - think again. Should museums be made to give back their marbles? Is it even possible to 'decolonise' our galleries? Must Rhodes fall? From the stolen Wakandan art in Black Panther, to Emmanuel Macron's recent commitment to art restitution, and Beyoncé and Jay Z's provocative music video filmed in the Louvre, the questi If you think art history has to be pale, male and stale - think again. Should museums be made to give back their marbles? Is it even possible to 'decolonise' our galleries? Must Rhodes fall? From the stolen Wakandan art in Black Panther, to Emmanuel Macron's recent commitment to art restitution, and Beyoncé and Jay Z's provocative music video filmed in the Louvre, the question of decolonising our relationship with the art around us is quickly gaining traction. People are waking up to the seedy history of the world's art collections, and are starting to ask difficult questions about what the future of museums should look like. In The Whole Picture, art historian and Uncomfortable Art Tour guide Alice Procter provides a manual for deconstructing everything you thought you knew about art, and fills in the blanks with the stories that have been left out of the art history canon for centuries. The book is divided into four chronological sections, named after four different kinds of art space: The Palace The Classroom The Memorial The Playground Each section tackles the fascinating and often shocking stories of five different art pieces, including the propaganda painting that the East India Company used to justify its control in India; the Maori mokomokai skulls that were traded and collected by Europeans as 'art objects'; and Kara Walker's controversial contemporary sculpture A Subtlety, which raised questions about 'appropriate' interactions with art. Through these stories, Alice brings out the underlying colonial narrative lurking beneath the art industry today, and suggests different ways of seeing and thinking about art in the modern world. The Whole Picture is a much-needed provocation to look more critically at the accepted narratives about art, and rethink and disrupt the way we interact with the museums and galleries that display it.

30 review for The Whole Picture: The colonial story of the art in our museums... and why we need to talk about it

  1. 5 out of 5

    Adnaan Jiwa

    A fantastically penetrating book that dissects the behaviour of the British empire through colonial art and how it shapes the idea of ‘good taste’ today. Procter exposes the disturbing history of art displayed in British museums and galleries and how, by not properly acknowledging this, galleries are perpetuating racist ideals. This book also explores constructive ways of dealing with statues of dubious historical figures that are currently vaunted across the western world. In addition, Procter A fantastically penetrating book that dissects the behaviour of the British empire through colonial art and how it shapes the idea of ‘good taste’ today. Procter exposes the disturbing history of art displayed in British museums and galleries and how, by not properly acknowledging this, galleries are perpetuating racist ideals. This book also explores constructive ways of dealing with statues of dubious historical figures that are currently vaunted across the western world. In addition, Procter examines how particular artists today are creating discussions about colonial history and current racial inequalities in insightful ways, like Kara Walker’s ‘Sugar Baby’. I’m surprised that this book isn’t more popular!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    So, not being any kind of student of art this book showed me my complete ignorance, and I loved it! Powerful stuff leaving me with so much to think about.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Becca Housden

    The subject of this book is a strikingly important one, and the discourse around it has been growing in recent years. This book’s contribution is well written and wide ranging, from more historic artworks through to contemporary performance art, all looked at through the eyes of colonial and racist attitudes. The inclusion of context surrounding the pierces of art discussed, and the people surrounding it where informative and aided the more theoretical discussions surrounding display and interpr The subject of this book is a strikingly important one, and the discourse around it has been growing in recent years. This book’s contribution is well written and wide ranging, from more historic artworks through to contemporary performance art, all looked at through the eyes of colonial and racist attitudes. The inclusion of context surrounding the pierces of art discussed, and the people surrounding it where informative and aided the more theoretical discussions surrounding display and interpretation that followed. There were a couple of instances where I would have appreciated a slightly more wider discussion about a museum or gallery as a whole, rather than the spaces being viewed through the prism of one object, but the structure and concept does work well and aid the texts readability.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jas

    In reading this, more so than anything else, I’m reminded of one thing - everything in art is deliberate. Everything you see, feel, experience is as a result of a conscientious choice somebody made way before you ever laid eyes on it. This is something that with words we’re somewhat quicker to accept & understand, but the coded and occasionally cryptic nature of art sometimes obscures this. Prior to the publication of this book, Alice Procter has been known for her excellent uncomfortable art to In reading this, more so than anything else, I’m reminded of one thing - everything in art is deliberate. Everything you see, feel, experience is as a result of a conscientious choice somebody made way before you ever laid eyes on it. This is something that with words we’re somewhat quicker to accept & understand, but the coded and occasionally cryptic nature of art sometimes obscures this. Prior to the publication of this book, Alice Procter has been known for her excellent uncomfortable art tours, and that’s what I thought this would be. A series of essays, shredding the owners & institutions that propagate the problematic environments that exist within galleries and museums. But in actuality, the work done here does achieves more than that which could be done by a series of rants. Here, the deliberateness extends beyond the metaphors dropped into portraits and historical sculptures, and includes/implicates the very act of museum curation - this raising an important question “what is the story being told here, by who, and for whom?”. Interesting things happen when we consider the display of objects stolen from other lands, whereby this divorce from an object’s origin allows only for a singular and one sided story telling - that of the thief. One may question the role that an understanding of the impact of colonial/racist art has for society. This is a sensible thing to ponder, art isn’t setting out any policies, nor is art vocally baying for migrant blood. However, the very nature of art allows for the honing of an essential tool in the fight against prejudice. As Procter points out, art is static. It is fixed, and consequently a work’s meaning is set in stone (or oil..). This provides a platform whereby a viewer or participant can decipher the mechanisms of power at play, without the chaos and noise that would be present when trying to do the same with a section of society. And, if one can become perceptive in this regard then they can map these systems onto their own experiences and interactions. Reading this also allowed for a degree of personal reflection. As someone who frequents the kind of galleries that typically feature the types of problematic work dissected here, I’ve come to question why exactly that is. Clearly museums are not suited to the kind of deep learning and nuanced education that comes from multifaceted conversations, and so academic interest can’t be the whole reason. I think the real reason may lie in something a lot more subtle. Procter notes early on in this book that there are a few different types of museum, but traditionally they have taken the form of “the palace”. These are the collections of the rich and powerful (read: white European & male), that ultimately were not for the eyes of this brown man. And so, perhaps my mere presence in these spaces is indicative of a hopeful progress, though the infrequency with which I note other people of colour is further proof of the work still to be done.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rosie Kirk

    A really interesting read! I love a museum but this book did a great job at capturing the unease I’ve felt in a lot of museums (especially the Pitt Rivers and the British Museum) and where that comes from, and also made me think a lot more about the fact that all museums have been curated in a very certain way to make us feel or think certain things, which now seems very obvious but has made me reevaluate many a museum trip.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    The author finishes her excellent book with this quote from Ursual K Le Guin when writing about the similarities between writing a fictional world and telling historical stories: 'past events exist, after all, only in memory, which is a form of imagination. The event is real now, but once it's then, its continuing reality is entirely up to us, dependent on our energy and honesty'. How we tell our stories, what stories we tell, who holds the stories, how these are told, housed and represented is al The author finishes her excellent book with this quote from Ursual K Le Guin when writing about the similarities between writing a fictional world and telling historical stories: 'past events exist, after all, only in memory, which is a form of imagination. The event is real now, but once it's then, its continuing reality is entirely up to us, dependent on our energy and honesty'. How we tell our stories, what stories we tell, who holds the stories, how these are told, housed and represented is all part of this well considered and researched contribution to 'talking about the colonial story of the art in our museums'. I am left with much to consider and take with me as I continue to visit spaces that hold the art and representation of past stories and from then maybe I may learn to be a troublemaker.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    "The Whole Picture" is a critical look at art in western museums and how these places manage to hide their colonial past. Well worth reading. "The Whole Picture" is a critical look at art in western museums and how these places manage to hide their colonial past. Well worth reading.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ershen

    This is truly one of the more fascinating books I’ve read recently. I was lurched back to the various museum experiences I’ve had. More often than not I have been guilty of being uncritical of curatorial processes, choosing to focus on what the museum presents rather than what it excludes (perhaps the exception being my experience in war museums). As a fair novice to the art world, I appreciated Procter’s uncomplicated explanations and plain language. Going to a museum is an orchestrated experie This is truly one of the more fascinating books I’ve read recently. I was lurched back to the various museum experiences I’ve had. More often than not I have been guilty of being uncritical of curatorial processes, choosing to focus on what the museum presents rather than what it excludes (perhaps the exception being my experience in war museums). As a fair novice to the art world, I appreciated Procter’s uncomplicated explanations and plain language. Going to a museum is an orchestrated experience. Our movement, the sequence of pieces we see, the labels we read, what is included and excluded — these are controlled by an invisible hand, and we’re often (at least) faintly aware of it. But it takes real effort to read against the grain, to make ourselves privy to curatorial decisions and what shapes one’s interpretations. Procter takes the reader through four imagined museums, categories she creates — the Palace, the Classroom, the Memorial, and the Playground. Some of the discussions she raises include how the choice of which museum to place Tipu’s Tiger downplays its potential as an object of symbolic resistance, what the architecture of modern art museums like the Tate are meant to achieve, how museums merchandise impacts how we engage with the museum’s collection, and the deep inequalities that are perpetuated through a museum’s choice to not repatriate objects. My takeaway here is that we must “mine the museum” — surface the hidden narratives and invisible communities that are already present in museums objects and waiting to be surfaced. As she notes, “the way to challenge an institution is to use its own apparatus against it”. She concludes by reminding us of the power we have as visitors to “make trouble” and push for an image that tells the whole story.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Valentine

    In The Whole Picture, Alice Procter examines four types of museums: the palace, the classroom, the memorial, and the playground. Through these she draws a history of the museum, from private display of wealth (the palace) to memorial and space to question society (playground), convincingly showing the colonialist and racist ideas bound up with it. For example, the section on the museum as classroom points out how the Great Exhibition of 1851 was meant to educate and inspire the general public by In The Whole Picture, Alice Procter examines four types of museums: the palace, the classroom, the memorial, and the playground. Through these she draws a history of the museum, from private display of wealth (the palace) to memorial and space to question society (playground), convincingly showing the colonialist and racist ideas bound up with it. For example, the section on the museum as classroom points out how the Great Exhibition of 1851 was meant to educate and inspire the general public by displaying 'trophies' of the British Empire. Ultimately, though, Alice Procter remains unconvinced of the potential for institutions to truly push boundaries, contrasting displays within a museum like London's Tate Modern with public art or installations in temporary spaces (such as Kara Walker's "A Subtlety" in a former sugar factory slated for demolition in Brooklyn). The final section in particular I thought contained some of The Whole Picture's best ideas and analysis, but also seemed to have so much to say it could have easily been its own book. It didn't feel quite as coherent as the rest. Another small reservation was that the concepts of artwashing and thus the issue of funding is brought up but barely examined. How can Mark Rakowiz's work - for Procter a model of work that has "an ability to move with care and tenderness towards a place that is grounded in memory but seeks to make something new" - exist without being co-opted by exclusive institutions or becoming a tool of gentifrication?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tutankhamun18

    Reads like a tour through some older art works created during the height of the colonial era and how they are presented today and than also some contemporary art that aims to reframe how we look at things. More passively interesting rather than educational than I was expecting. Interesting points: -Everything in a museum is political, because it is shaped by the politics of the world that made it. -Interesting talk about how the indigenous people of Australia have and have not been depicted particu Reads like a tour through some older art works created during the height of the colonial era and how they are presented today and than also some contemporary art that aims to reframe how we look at things. More passively interesting rather than educational than I was expecting. Interesting points: -Everything in a museum is political, because it is shaped by the politics of the world that made it. -Interesting talk about how the indigenous people of Australia have and have not been depicted particularly -„A postcard mainly works as a reminder of seeing something or to share it with someone else. It is a vehicle for communication. It id a vehicle for communication. Buying a print or catalogue is similar... The other „stuff“ (in a giftshop)... is different because of how we enage with it... it becomes a pattern, something that is straightorwardly utilitarioan and split from its original context.“ -layers of erasure (my thought: similar to what fossils have been preserved in archeology but eroded by social context not forces of time) -Fascinating to see when Queen Victoria depicted in Yoruba Art Style // - Cant frame past by morals of present... But history illustrates there have always been people who spoke out a resisted // Overall it was well written and presented and introduced me to many art works I had not seen before.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sandeep Narayanan

    I love visiting museums. The joy of discovery, the thrill of seeing something that shaped the world we live in and experiencing art, history and objects that make you think and sometimes move you to tears, makes the act of visiting a museum truly rewarding. Reading The Whole Picture: The colonial story of the art in our museums and why we need to talk about it, by Alice Procter is akin to visiting a museum. Divided into four chronological sections: The Palace, The Classroom, The Memorial and The I love visiting museums. The joy of discovery, the thrill of seeing something that shaped the world we live in and experiencing art, history and objects that make you think and sometimes move you to tears, makes the act of visiting a museum truly rewarding. Reading The Whole Picture: The colonial story of the art in our museums and why we need to talk about it, by Alice Procter is akin to visiting a museum. Divided into four chronological sections: The Palace, The Classroom, The Memorial and The Playground, Procter examines the motivations behind and reactions to a range of museums, galleries and memorials; the histories around these examples sometimes fascinating and often shocking. A beautifully written and carefully researched book, Procter, encourages us to be more critical of what we see in museums, which many a times are curated in a manner that promulgate certain narratives. She asks us to challenge the institutionalised paradigms of power and privilege in our museums and art galleries to instigate change. This is a powerful and insightful exploration into the stories of heritage and culture. An important book that is an absolute must read. Cannot recommend it enough.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mae

    I love museums, and I love art. As a child, these institutions fueled my curiosity and opened my mind to the various ways in which life can be lived to the fullest. But perhaps after pursuing fine art and art history in uni, a museum reads very differently to me now. There are times when encountering an artwork is magic; but at other times, feelings of hesitation and apprehension bubble up to the surface. This book is illuminating, sensitive, and well-researched- encouraging a critical eye in vie I love museums, and I love art. As a child, these institutions fueled my curiosity and opened my mind to the various ways in which life can be lived to the fullest. But perhaps after pursuing fine art and art history in uni, a museum reads very differently to me now. There are times when encountering an artwork is magic; but at other times, feelings of hesitation and apprehension bubble up to the surface. This book is illuminating, sensitive, and well-researched- encouraging a critical eye in viewing the problematic aspects of our museums and the art housed within them, while also championing a better way forward. I thoroughly enjoyed the precision and specificity in the way Proctor writes; this firmly grounded the breadth of works, people, places, and instances mentioned in the book, truly making it an ambitious success. It's 2020, and I think every person who has ever stepped into a museum before needs to read this!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    From the private collections of white men with too much money displaying their stolen artifacts to the modern museum of today this is an amazing overview of art's shady past and it's murky colonialist present. Each chapter focuses on one specific art piece and is written in an accesible style. This book is a must read if you love exploring art galleries and museums and want to find out the history behind some of the pieces you would usually just walk by. It also offers ideas to how museums and g From the private collections of white men with too much money displaying their stolen artifacts to the modern museum of today this is an amazing overview of art's shady past and it's murky colonialist present. Each chapter focuses on one specific art piece and is written in an accesible style. This book is a must read if you love exploring art galleries and museums and want to find out the history behind some of the pieces you would usually just walk by. It also offers ideas to how museums and galleries can change the narrative.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Helen Cummings

    An interesting and thought-provoking investigation into the way that museums use and conserve items that have often been obtained in illegal ways as a result of colonisation. I’ll particular interest to me what’s the section on Māori heads that some of museums in some countries are reluctantly allowing to repatriate.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hope Gillespie

    Brilliant book by a brilliant person. When Alice Procter writes, it feels like you're having a conversation with your most-intelligent, well-spoken friend and it's exactly the kind of book we should all be reading right now. CMSMC Book Club book for January 2021- sign up to join us at : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bi-month... Brilliant book by a brilliant person. When Alice Procter writes, it feels like you're having a conversation with your most-intelligent, well-spoken friend and it's exactly the kind of book we should all be reading right now. CMSMC Book Club book for January 2021- sign up to join us at : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bi-month...

  16. 5 out of 5

    cat kisser

    I learned a lot! Sometimes with these kind of books I kinda really pressure myself to take on new things, like I’ll frequently stop and ask myself what I’ve learned... I found out about new artists I want to look into and I was v pleased to learn more about A Subtlety by Kara Walker who’s an artist I already loved.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kat Zagaria

    This book amazingly breaks down the many issues facing the museum today and does so from a global perspective of colonist countries. I appreciated the straightforward language and the foregrounding of her thesis throughout, even relating formal analysis moments back to the importance of accurately representing where objects come from and explaining through labels without prejudice.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

    I have never before read a book that pulled me back to my ethics of archaeology class so vividly. A definite must read for those of us who enjoy museums and art galleries so we can understand that what we see is less than what we ought to know.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Graham Senders

    Makes you think, eh? It's been evident to me that museums, etc., are not neutral collectors for the benefit of their users, etc. But here Alice Procter cogently lays out the implications of that and a lot more. And she's right, we do need to talk about it. Makes you think, eh? It's been evident to me that museums, etc., are not neutral collectors for the benefit of their users, etc. But here Alice Procter cogently lays out the implications of that and a lot more. And she's right, we do need to talk about it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dinithi

    I really enjoy Proctor's style - coaxing the reader to consider viewpoints that have been historically ignored, rather than outright dictating our thought processes. If you have ever been to a museum, you must read this book. I really enjoy Proctor's style - coaxing the reader to consider viewpoints that have been historically ignored, rather than outright dictating our thought processes. If you have ever been to a museum, you must read this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brett Jones

    Procter opened my eyes to the complex issues surrounding how history is told, and how our institutions present our past.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karen Stokes

    Great, many interesting examples on this topic, and very enlightening. Even the footnotes are a wealth of information after finishing the book. Loved it

  23. 4 out of 5

    Declan

    Enjoyed this immensely, would recommend.

  24. 4 out of 5

    aj

    This book is very easy to read. Alice Procter devotes each section of the book to a different 'genre' or type of museum that she's identified (e.g. "The Palace" or "The Classroom"). Each section follows a formulaic structure—an introduction to the type of museum, including some thought-provoking questions, followed by several chapters each detailing the stories of different artworks and museums that relate to the section type. This book offered a lot of interesting insights into art, artworks an This book is very easy to read. Alice Procter devotes each section of the book to a different 'genre' or type of museum that she's identified (e.g. "The Palace" or "The Classroom"). Each section follows a formulaic structure—an introduction to the type of museum, including some thought-provoking questions, followed by several chapters each detailing the stories of different artworks and museums that relate to the section type. This book offered a lot of interesting insights into art, artworks and art museums, and I definitely recommend it for anyone involved in museums, galleries, art history or who just likes looking at art. One problem I had with the book was its relative lack of images. This might have been due to licensing issues, but at some points in the book Procter would describe an artwork and I would be trying to visualise it in my head. Some artworks are not pictured for good reason, because they depict violence, culturally insensitive material, or are otherwise rightfully not reproducible, but in some other cases I think I would have benefited from additional images.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christiana Myers

    In thinking about where museums and art galleries are headed in a post-Covid world, this book by thoroughly articulates where we've been and, in my opinion, is required reading for ensuring institutions don't continue repeating harmful practices. In thinking about where museums and art galleries are headed in a post-Covid world, this book by thoroughly articulates where we've been and, in my opinion, is required reading for ensuring institutions don't continue repeating harmful practices.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    4.5 stars Should museums repatriate the works that were taken during colonialization? In The Whole Picture, Procter delves deep into the problematic history of museums, explores what the future of museums should be, and suggests ways the reader can think critically about the collections themselves.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jim Rimmer

    An engrossing and timely book that all culture vultures should jump into immediately.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gunther

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emily Boocock

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sindy N

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.