Cover image for Feeding the eye : essays
Feeding the eye : essays
Hollander, Anne.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1999.
Physical Description:
xi, 336 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GT525 .H646 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A new book on the nourishing powers of visual art-film, painting, dance, and clothes. Since the advent of cinema more than a hundred years ago, visual art has tended to be perceived as if it were in motion, and as the century ends, we notice that artists create less often in fresco or carved stone and more on film or tape, on the dance stage or in the ever changing, ever moving medium of clothes. In this remarkable collection of writing that ranges over art of the past century with unusual depth of historical insight, the noted critic Anne Hollander explores these rich, diverse visual treasures and the underlying themes that connect them. Feeding the Eye opens with a wonderful array of "modern legends"-essays on celebrated figures from Balanchine to Cartier-Bresson, from Kafka to Chanel, from Isadora Duncan to Simone de Beauvoir-who have helped to define our world. Other sections of the book are devoted to the arts of dressing or decorating the human body-Hollander is particularly celebrated for her bold and original interpretations of this theme-and to classic, often misinterpreted artists of the cinema: Chaplin and Garbo, among others. Hollander concludes by asking us to consider how great paintings of the past continue, in many different ways and contexts, to startle us with "the tonic effect of acute optical experience, which is the whole world's natural birthright."

Author Notes

Anne Hollander is an independent art historian, critic, and historian of dress. A Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and former president of PEN American Center. She lives in New York and Paris.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

An essayist in the most balanced, dignified and old-fashioned sense, Hollander (Sex and Suits) presents 31 essays on film, fashion and art. The subtitle of the collection is more than a little deceiving, as most of the pieces included here are extended reviews or analytical sketches reprinted from such venues as the London Review of Books, the New Republic and the New Yorker. Organized around the notion that "artists make art by absorbing the effects of other artists' productions, transmuting them through a personal creative effort influenced by circumstances and then rendering a newly shaped thing back into the continuing stream," these pieces offer superb evidence of Hollander's intellectual confidence with subjects as diverse as Yves St. Laurent, Greta Garbo, and Caspar David Friedrich (among many, many others). Hollander never seems to meet an object of fashion that doesn't merit extensive critical treatment, but she brings generous, original insight to such topics as corsets, kimonos and body-decorating rituals. A review of a Chaplin biography leads her to one of the collection's most provocative connections, that between the expatriate English silent-film tramp and George Balanchine, the Russian emigr‚ ballet choreographer (there is also a separate Balanchine essay). Hollander's style can be a touch too precise, too effortlessly learned, but she has a genius for zippy phrasemaking, as when she writes in "Accounting for Fashion," a book review that ran in Raritan in 1993, that a dress "requires opposable thumbs and some kind of cosmology." That might not be Diana Vreeland talking, but it is her slightly more book-learned, and exquisitely well-spoken sister. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Hollander (Sex and Suits and Moving Pictures) is noted for her fascination with the concept of motion in visual art forms, but she should also be recognized for her remarkable knowledge of an array of artistic disciplines. In this rich collection of essays, she writes about the impact on modern culture of a variety of visual formsÄfrom dance (George Balanchine, Isadora Duncan), clothing (Chanel, Yves St. Laurent), and film (Chaplin, Garbo) to body decoration, transvestism, Impressionism, and flowers. In her detailed and well-documented text, she makes observations about the style, development, and artistic contributions (sometimes controversial) of each of her subjects, offering insight into the visual aesthetics of modern culture. This unique perspective on the nature of artistic experience should be a welcome addition to art/humanities collections in academic and public libraries.ÄCarol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
I Some Modern Legends
1 Isadora Duncanp. 3
2 Franz Kafkap. 11
3 Gabrielle Chanelp. 18
4 Vaslav Nijinskyp. 28
5 Martha Grahamp. 35
6 Alix Gresp. 46
7 George Balanchinep. 52
8 Henri Cartier-Bressonp. 69
9 Simone de Beauvoirp. 78
10 Yves St. Laurentp. 91
II Modern Arts: Dress
11 Accounting for Fashionp. 105
12 The Decorated Bodyp. 115
13 The Tight Corsetp. 121
14 Kimonop. 128
15 Men in Blackp. 138
16 Fashion and Imagep. 142
17 Androgynyp. 148
18 Transvestismp. 161
III Modern Arts: Film
19 Chaplinp. 179
20 Silent Moviesp. 191
21 Woman's Moviesp. 199
22 Garbop. 206
23 Elizabeth Taylorp. 214
24 Little Women in the Moviesp. 219
IV Other Arts, Other Legends
25 Little Women: The Bookp. 229
26 Mary Magdalenp. 240
27 The Power of Imagesp. 253
28 The Culture of Flowersp. 273
29 Caspar David Friedrichp. 286
30 Schapiro on Impressionismp. 301
31 Titian and Womenp. 311
Indexp. 325