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The Clever Object

ISBN: 978-1-118-71076-0
218 pages
December 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
The Clever Object (1118710762) cover image


The Clever Object presents a multidisciplinary exploration of the ways objects materialise, embody, or negotiate various forms of intelligence, revealing its use as an analytic tool of art-historical interpretation.

  • Presents an original theory (“the clever object”) that draws on contributions from a variety of fields, including history of art, anthropology, philosophy of science, and design history
  • Features interviews with two contemporary artists
  • Advances a theoretical conversation by combining historical contributions (from medieval/early modern) with contemporary perspectives
  • Represents the results of a project developed from an intensive research seminar in which all contributors participated and developed their work in evolving dialogue
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Table of Contents

6 Notes on Contributors

8 Chapter 1 The Clever Object: Three Pavilions, Three Loggias, and a Planetarium
Matthew C. Hunter and Francesco Lucchini

32 Chapter 2 Aleardino’s Glass
Francesco Lucchini

52 Chapter 3 Object, Image, Cleverness: The Lienzo de Tlaxcala
Byron Ellsworth Hamann

80 Chapter 4 Picture, Object, Puzzle, Prompter: Devilish Cleverness in Restoration London
Matthew C. Hunter

102 Chapter 5 Screen Wise, Screen Play: Jacques de Lajoue and the Ruses of Rococo
Katie Scott

142 Chapter 6 William Morris’s Tapestry: Metamorphosis and Prophecy in The Woodpecker
Caroline Arscott

160 Chapter 7 Fischli and Weiss’s Equilibre/Quiet Afternoon (1984-5)
Rachel Wells

174 Chapter 8 Clever Objects – Tell-Tale Objects
Simon Starling in conversation with Christiane Rekade

186 Chapter 9 Fragments of Great Visions
Ian Kiaer in conversation with Christiane Rekade

198 Chapter 10 Response: Clever Fetishists
Roman Frigg

204 Chapter 11 Response: Playing Dumb
Glenn Adamson

211 Index

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Author Information

Matthew C. Hunter is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. He is author of Wicked Intelligence: Visual Art and the Science of Experiment in Restoration London (2013) and co-editor of Beyond Mimesis and Convention: Representation in Art and Science (2010).

Francesco Lucchini is a Psychoanalytic Training Candidate at the C. G. Jung Institut, Zurich. He is also an art historian and theorist with an interest in the relationship between objects and ideas, thinking and things.

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