richard price & sally price

updated Italian edition (2015) with preface by Federico Zeri and afterword by Maurice Godelier

Third French edition, L'cole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, 2012

Second French edition, with a preface by Maurice Godelier, L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, 2006

Dutch edition, KIT Press, 2000

Brazilian edition, Editora UFRJ, 2000

Mexican edition, Siglo XXI, 1993

German edition, Campus Verlag, 1992

Italian edition, Einaudi, 1992

Primitive Art in Civilized Places

2nd edition, University of Chicago Press, 2001

What's so "primitive" about primitive art? And whose standards should we use to judge it? Drawing on an intriguing mixture of sources, from art criticism and travel journalism to Fellini films and fashion ads, Price explores the cultural assumptions that cling to popular perceptions of art in non-Westernized societies around the world.

"A gem of a monograph that raises challenging questions about the response of advanced Western societies to so-called primitive art ... In her impressively documented inquiry, anthropologist Price draws on not only contemporary scholarship but also a wealth of offbeat sources--commercial advertisements, films, interviews with Parisian dealers, reminiscences (from, inter alios, Nelson Rockefeller and Leonard Bernstein), and even comic strips like Doonesbury ... The always absorbing text has 15 illustrations.

"Price is illuminating in many ways ... We can read her book -- amusing and acerbic by turns -- for the ways in which it lays bare the careless assumptions most of us don't even know we make. What she reveals has as much application to politics as to art history."
--London Sunday Times

"Primitive Art in Civilized Places rattled glass cases throughout the art world with its bracing attack on the myth of the connoisseur as a genius whose inborn eye instantly--and reliably--distinguishes masterpiece from kitsch, the authentic from the forged."
--Lingua Franca

"Price is particularly shrewd in her account of the notion of a global brotherhood."
--London Review of Books

"The book is infuriating, entertaining, and inspirational, leaving one feeling less able than before to pass judgment on 'known' genres of art, but feeling more confident for that."
--San Francisco Review of Books

"Sally Price has written a wonderful book that is readable, enjoyable, and often witty on top of its important scholarly message. In the best tradition of demystification, Price unveils and expands some of the major issues surrounding contemporary art as well as tribal arts. It should be compulsory reading for museum people, art historians, dealers, critics, and anyone interested in sociocultural change."
--Lucy R. Lippard, author of Mixed Blessings: New Art in a Multicultural America

"Every art historian, curator, dealer, collector, and enthusiast who has anything to do with 'primitive art' should read this book and, while doing so, assess whether or not he or she might be reflected in these pages. Sally Price opens our eyes to the cultural baggage we all carry and the arrogance that allows scholars to dismiss as irrelevant the contexts of primitive art on the one hand and presume to interpret and explain it on the other."
--Bill Holm, author of Smoky-Top: The Art and Times of Willie Seaweed

"Written with passion, yet with balance and authority ... Price forces a reconsideration of the formation of artistic values in our culture."
--Gary Schwartz, author of Rembrandt: His Life, His Paintings

"L'abbondanza e la ricchezza di spunti, di idee, di prospettive e di aperture contenute nelle pagine di Sally Price costituiscono un inesauribile, incessante stimolo per riflessioni e revisioni."
--Federico Zeri, author of Metropolitan Museum of Art catalogues of Italian painting (Sienese Central Italian, and Florentine schools).

Selected Books:

“Richard and Sally Price’s elegiac account of their time living among the Saamakas of Suriname in the 1960s is wholly engrossing, and of the very highest narrative quality. I can see, smell, and feel everything they describe. The Prices have never been fresher or more readable as literature.” --George E. Marcus
Boléro Tropical, a French-language reimagining of Enigma Variations, is now available from and
Winner of the 2012 Best Book Award of the American Political Science Association in the field of Human Rights and the 2012 Senior Book Prize of the American Ethnological Society. "An extraordinary work, actively written and exceptionally thought-provoking, Rainforest Warriors will be a classic." --Donald Brenneis, UC Santa Cruz
"A delicious combination of art, anthropology, and politics"--Lucy R. Lippard. "A fascinating, entertaining, and troubling book"--Journal of Anthropological Research. "A complex story of passion, intrigue, and power"--Journal of Surrealism and the Americas. "A crackling good story"--Museum.
Winner of the 2008 Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing, the 2009 Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Memorial Award for Caribbean Scholarship, and the 2009 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion. . . . "An astonishing performance ... as lucid and cordial as the best contemporary fiction.”--George Lamming
A lavishly-illustrated art book
A French-language original, printed in full color.
"A tour-de-force ... a true marriage of anthropology and art history." --Fred Myers, New York University
"A witty, but scholarly, indictment of the whole primitive art business." --Newsweek
"A superb calaloo of a book ... that explores the underlying insanity of the colonial experience." --George Lamming
"A true gem... The promise of literary ethnography is fulfilled: to educate and, just as a lark, to entertain." --African Arts
"Sensitive and honest, First-Time is required reading for all who seek to learn something new through first-hand, long-term research with non-western intellectuals" --Ethnohistory
"A splendid effort to recover the past." --New York Review of Books
"A splendid anthology, skillfully edited and introduced." --Eugene D. Genovese
"An innovative analysis of the creativity of African-Americans under the extreme constraints of slavery." --Rebecca Scott
"Conceived with sophistication but presented with simplicity and clarity" --Choice
"A brilliantly crafted experiment in postmodern narration --J. Jorge Klor de Alva, president, University of Phoenix
As seas dry up, books speak out loud, and elephants assume human form, we are present at a whole sequence of world-shaping happenings such as the invention of sex, the discovery of drums,and the arrival of death among humans.
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