Artistic Investigations and the Elderly Subject
Under the rubric of ‘portraiture’ Chapters 5 and 6 examine images of the elderly in analytic or narrative prose, in the fine arts, and in popular representations in an attempt to analyze the collective self-understanding of age. This chapter begins with Oscar Wilde's delineation of the science of aging and the art of staying young. The Picture of Dorian Gray reflects the impulse to join science with art, and within that attempt, to depict aging as a desirable part of all aesthetic activity. The controversy surrounding cremation illuminates the inter-relations between science, art, and politics. A turn then to the visual arts, and especially to the paintings of Hubert Herkomer, serves as the occasion to discuss the visual design of generational life. By associating literature with the fine arts the aesthetic of old age which emerged at the end of the century becomes clear.
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