Iconoclasts and Their Motives

Freedberg, David A.

This book aims to counteract the overall scholarly neglect of the phenomenon of iconoclasm. Rather than analyzing the history of anti-image movements, the author discerns broad commonalities in the motives of many disparate individual acts of iconoclasm. Beyond their role as attention-getting gestures, acts of iconoclasm depend on the power of the conflation of image and prototype; iconoclasts are either disturbed by this conflation and reject it by mutilating the sign, or exploit it to enable a form of resistance to the prototype. Most generally, iconoclasm reinforces the necessity of attending to the dialectical relationship between works of art and their beholders.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Published Here
April 6, 2010


This work is available in "Iconoclasm" by David A. Freedberg, The University of Chicago Press, Fall 2020.