Jacket Image

Enlarge Image

216 × 138 × 15 mm
288 pages
110 illustrations
14 Jan 2019

A Short History of the Shadow Victor I. Stoichita

In this investigative tour de force, now available in a new format edition, Victor I. Stoichita untangles the history of one of the most enduring technical and symbolic challenges to confront Western artists: the depiction and meanings of shadows.

Stoichita’s compelling account of the shadow and Western art draws on texts by Renaissance artist-authors such as Vasari and Cennini, folk and fairy tales, classical myths, works by van Eyck, Poussin, Malevich, De Chirico, Picasso and other masters, German Expressionist cinema, photography and child psychology. It is a wholly original investigation of a subject that for centuries has challenged the very meaning of art as representation.

‘Victor I. Stoichita is an art historian with a tremendous range, and has brewed together optics and metaphysics, phantasmagoria and propaganda, Plato and Warhol to conjure meaning out of shadows in his engagingly original study.’ — Marina Warner, International Books of the Year, Times Literary Supplement

‘Discriminating, inspired interrogation . . . dazzling analysis.’ — Tate Magazine

‘Ambitious and a pleasure to read . . . a thoroughly worthwhile book.’ — Times Higher Education Supplement

‘The author chronicles the changing connotations that shadow have had in Western history . . . [He] shows how shadows are deftly used, among other purposes, to suggest the ambiguity of the human psyche.’ — Lee Adair Lawrence, Washington Times

Show all

Victor I. Stoichita is Professor of Modern Art History at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He is the author of Visionary Experience in the Golden Age of Spanish Art (1997) and A Short History of the Shadow (1997, 2019), and co-author with Anna-Maria Coderch of Goya: The Last Carnival (1999), all published by Reaktion Books.


1 The Shadow Stage
2 The Shadow of the Flesh
3 A Shadow on the Painting
4 Around ‘The Uncanny’
5 Man and his Doubles
6 Of Shadow and its Reproducibility during the Photographic Era
7 In the Shadow of the Eternal Return

List of Illustrations