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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: David O. Staats, MD (University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center)
Description: This book attempts to review art created in old age and how creativity changes with age. It covers older painters, writers, and composers.
Purpose: The purpose is to review how artists' (painters, writers, and composers) work and creativity changes as they age in their careers to see if there is such a thing as an "old-age" style.
Audience: The audience here is primarily gerontologists. The book flows from the author's late-life experience of training in gerontology.
Features: This book rambles and lacks clarity. The best part is its bibliography, which brings together a wide-ranging group of writings on art in old age. Except for the cover of the book, there are no illustrations.
Assessment: How wonderful is the art that emerges from old artists, especially when this art says something about aging and those who are old. Who among us is not moved by the Marschallin's Act I monologue in Der Rosenkavalier (...Dear God, why do you let me see my own aging?...) How can we not stand in awe of Verdi closing his life's work with a slightly befuddled old man becoming enlightened in the dark forest at the stroke of midnight (Falstaff ending with a fugue no less!). The artist Alice Neel's unflinching self-portrait showing her dropsy at the end of her life humbles us. I wish this book would have described some of these masterpieces in detail as a roadmap to enlighten the rest of us.