A Brief History of the Smile

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Basic Books, 2004 - Art - 226 pages
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Every smile is the product of physical processes common to all humans. But since the dawn of civilization, the upward movement of the muscles of the face has carried a bewildering range of meanings. Supreme enlightenment is reflected in the holy smile of the Buddha, yet the Victorians thought of open-mouthed smiling as obscene, and nineteenth-century English and American slang equated "smiling" with drinking whisky.In A Brief History of the Smile, Angus Trumble deftly combines art, poetry, history, and biology into an intriguing portrait of the many nuances of the smile. Elegantly illustrating his points with emblematic works of art, from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European paintings to Japanese woodblock prints, Trumble explores the meanings of smiling in a variety of cultures and contexts. Effortlessly mingling erudition, wit, and personal anecdote, Trumble weaves a seamless interdisciplinary tapestry, bringing his expertise as a writer, historian, and thinker to bear on the art of smiling in this warm and perceptive work.
 

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A brief history of the smile

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Chronicling something as ephemeral as a smile can be a tricky thing. For art historian Trumble, the task at first seemed simple: How has the smile been depicted in art through the ages? The search ... Read full review

Contents

List of Illustrations
xiii
The Serious and the Smirk
xxix
Decorum
1
Lewdness
31
Desire
49
Mirth
73
Wisdom
103
Deceit
133
Happiness?
157
Notes
171
Bibliography
197
Index
217
Copyright

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Art and Laughter
Sheri Klein
Limited preview - 2007
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About the author (2004)

Angus Trumble is a graduate of the University of Melbourne and of New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. He has worked for Christie's in New York, and has been curator of European paintings and sculpture at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide. He is currently curator of paintings and sculpture at the Yale Center for British Art. He has written seven books, and lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

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