Better Living Through Misinterpretation

The Primacy of the Image: Essays in Honor of Larry Silver

Bret Rothstein
Publication Date
2018
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The so-called Netherlandish Proverbs of Pieter Bruegel the Elder has long been recognized as something of a compendium. Central to that recognition is the idea that contemporaneous viewers were expected to generate intelligent and persuasive interpretations of the painting in the company of their peers. This essay explores the social and intellectual risks involved in producing such interpretations, which viewers likely had to do on the fly. Specifically, one wonders what place error had in that process. This essay offers a preliminary set of thoughts about error and its place in a culture invested in the playful consumption of pictures

Citation

“Better Living Through Misinterpretation,” in Debra Cashion, Henry Luttikhuizen, and Ashley West, eds. The Primacy of the Image: Essays in Honor of Larry Silver (Brill, 2017), 90-102