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By Teresa Mills

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Baxandall’s Painting and Experience and Limewood Sculptors should be considered as ? and in fact in practice already are ? classics in the sociology of art, texts which we can profitably reread and explore anew in the context of each paradigmatic change in our discipline. Notes 1 Note also Kenneth Dauber’s (1992) use of Baxandall as the basis of his use of art (sculpture) to explore social contexts (the relationship between religion and social structure in Kamakura Japan).

At the same time as making a display of the artist’s mastery of the specific material potentialities of limewood, these flourishes ‘profile’ ? to use DeNora’s term (2000: 107) ? states of body and mind which mediate the devotee’s interaction with the saints and give it in each case a distinctive mood, appropriate to the saint in question and his modalities of action. Art and society are not in the kind of zero-sum relationship characteristic of ‘critical’ sociologies of art. Richer formal analysis brings with it richer sociological analysis as part of the same analytical move.

The New Sociology of Art and Beyond The conceptual language of ethnomethodology and actor network theory used by Hennion, De Nora and some other new sociologists of art, like Yaneva (2003) and Heath and Vom Lehn (2004), certainly helps to render more explicit, and transferable, some of the key features of Baxandall’s approach, and has resulted in an extremely fruitful programme of research. But against the background of these marked similarities, it is also important to draw attention to aspects of Baxandall’s analysis which differ significantly from the approach of the new sociology of art, and may indicate in certain respects a more cogent and powerful theoretical framework, if one which is perhaps too implicit and requires some drawing out.

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