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Dr. Heather L. Holian

Associate Professor, Art

Dr. Heather L. Holian

Mannerism
by John Shearman

My first read of John Shearman’s Mannerism in graduate school was revelatory. I often think about how I might have written a very different sort of dissertation had I not come in contact with this succinct, masterfully written, and accessible text. What struck me then was how Shearman logically explained and brilliantly contextualized apparently radical changes in 16th Century European art through a stylistic, social and cultural methodology, and so demonstrated that these visual changes were not in fact that radical, or unexpected.

In the years since, I have come to appreciate Mannerism as a more general model for how "great" art history is achieved through eloquent argumentation and confidence in one’s convictions. Here Shearman turned the "light on" in a period of study where much had been written, but without any consensus or clarity. Despite its age, Mannerism, remains the definitive study of the era and sets an inspiring bar for all art historical research.