chapter  31
Art as a mode of action: some problems with Gell’s Art and Agency: Howard Morphy
WithGell’s Art and Agency HOWARD MORPHY
Pages 19

REVIEWS OF ALFRED GELL’S Art and Agency have been sharply divided between those who see the book as making a major theoretical contribution to the anthropology of art (e.g. Hoskins, 2006), indeed in some cases making art for the fi rst time a relevant subject for anthropology, and those who see it as a thought-provoking but signifi cantly fl awed work characterized by signifi cant exclusions and internal contradictions in the argument (see Winter, 2007). Interestingly, the latter camp includes mainly anthropologists who have devoted much of their time to the study of art, and the former largely those who have not. Many of the more critical have qualifi ed their comments by noting that if Gell had lived he might have modifi ed his argument (e.g. Layton, 2003: 457). Those who have heaped praise have had no need for such qualifi cations.