Thursday, April 17, 2008
The Art of Small Things
I've recently finished reading The Art of Small Things by John Mack, published by Harvard University Press, 2007. Mack explores our fascination with small, crafted items and offers a survey of their forms and functions in a variety of cultures spanning several millenia. "The making and manipulating of the miniature constitute not just the product of a technology of the aesthetic but also a cultural process... the starting point for narratives that can be of potentially epic proportions." Illustrated with items in the British Museum's collections, the book is written in a straightforward manner, clearly intended for general consumption. For those interested in netsuke, several pages are devoted to this art form. Interest in this aspect comes not from new light he sheds on these carvings, but their placement within a broader context of small objects made for personal adornment.