Art History as Social Praxis: The Collected Writings of David Craven brings together more than thirty essays that chart the development of Craven’s voice as an unorthodox Marxist who applied historical materialism to the study of modern art. This book demonstrates the range and versatility of David Craven’s praxis as a ‘democratic socialist’ art historian who assessed the essential role the visual arts play in imagining more just and equitable societies. The essays collected here reveal Craven’s lifelong commitment to exposing interstices between western and non-western cultures by researching the reciprocating influences between First- and Third-World artists, critics and historians.
At a time of growing interest in relations between Marxism and Romanticism, Andrew Hemingway’s essays on British art and art theory reopen the question of Romantic painting’s ideological functions and, in some cases, its critical purchase. Half the volume exposes the voices of competing class interests in aesthetics and art theory in the tumultuous years of British history between the American Revolution and the 1832 Parliamentary Reform Act. Half offers new perspectives on works by some of the most important landscape painters of the time: John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, John Crome, and John Sell Cotman. Four essays are hitherto unpublished, and the remainder have been updated and in several cases substantially rewritten for this volume.