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John Singer Sargent: The Sensualist

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The art of John Singer Sargent is extraordinarily sensual in its evocation of textures, atmosphere, body gestures, and light. In this beautiful book, Trevor Fairbrother argues that viewing the artist as a sensualist connects otherwise conflicting elements of his oeuvre and offers a new interpretation of his life and work. Fairbrother discusses the complex currents in Sargent's life, analyzes how these shaped his work, and shows how his skills as a draftsman formed the foundation for his rapid, broadly brushed ...
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Overview

The art of John Singer Sargent is extraordinarily sensual in its evocation of textures, atmosphere, body gestures, and light. In this beautiful book, Trevor Fairbrother argues that viewing the artist as a sensualist connects otherwise conflicting elements of his oeuvre and offers a new interpretation of his life and work. Fairbrother discusses the complex currents in Sargent's life, analyzes how these shaped his work, and shows how his skills as a draftsman formed the foundation for his rapid, broadly brushed painting style. The book is lavishly illustrated with numerous examples of Sargent's oils, watercolors, and sketches-in particular his portraits and studies of models and dancers-that amply demonstrate the sensual aspect of his art. Fairbrother describes how Sargent used incidental details to arouse visual shock and to delight his audience, pointing to such works as the portraits of London art dealer Asher Wertheimer and his family, as well as to the notorious Madame X, which created a furor at the 1884 Paris Salon. Fairbrother also gives special attention to a little-known series of expressive charcoal drawings of male nudes in Sargent's "Album of Figure Studies." All thirty-one sheets from this album are published together in color for the first time in this new study. In addition, Fairbrother addresses Venetian, Moroccan, and other exotic vignettes that show Sargent's fascination with dramatics of light, personalities, and locale.This book accompanies an exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum that runs from December 2000 to March 2001.

Author Biography: Trevor Fairbrother is the deputy director of art and Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern Art at the Seattle Art Museum.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Offers compelling insights . . . . warmly recommended for its original and well-argued approach to this popular painter.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300087444
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Pages: 228
  • Product dimensions: 9.78 (w) x 11.38 (h) x 1.12 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2008

    The Sensualist Indeed

    Fairbrother¿s book serves as a good introduction to John Singer Sargent, offering an overview of various aspects of his life and art in a straightforward manner. Neither heavy nor pretentious, the text did not bore me at any point while reading. The chapters, organized by theme, media, and life events, sometimes separate and sometimes combined (but always aware of chronology), were helpful when dealing with a body of work consisting of commissioned and non-commissioned pieces, oils and watercolor paintings, drawings, and numerous types of people and locales. The author brings together Sargent¿s portraiture and private art works, putting them under the same banner by describing them and their creator as ¿sensualist,¿ meaning that he felt attracted to exotic/interesting people, places, and situations and depicted their visual and psychological textures in his nuanced and acute way. In doing so, I was better able to appreciate the artist¿s exquisite style. Sargent¿s murals are talked about only briefly, leaving me wanting more. Although they seem less interesting than other works, there was not enough information about them to get a clear idea of them or their impact on their interiors and people. Fairbrother¿s discussion seemed too forced in this text, making me question whether any mention of the murals adds to the book¿s content. Again, the text is informative, yet focuses on the Sargent¿s reaction to the world, only mentioning here and there the reaction of the world to the artist.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2005

    A BEAUTIFUL VOLUME THAT REPRESENTS SARGENT WELL

    Handsome and powerfully built, the American painter John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925) epitomized the versatility of the Realist approach. Noted for his luminous portraits of the wealthy and famous on both sides of the Atlantic, he astonished viewers and critics alike with his powers of observation and deft renderings. A visitor to his studio once noted that he had painted his model's scarf with one sweep of his brush. Trevor Fairbrother has prepared a rich and meticulous analysis of this expatriate painter in 'John Singer Sargent,' a volume in Abrams' acclaimed Library of American Art Series. In his preface Fairbrother states, 'I want this book to reflect the complexity of Sargent's affiliations and practices as an artist. I will try to provide a balanced representation of the man and his art, in the hope of understanding the unusual highs and lows of his reputation.' Fairbrother accomplishes these goals admirably. Born in Florence, educated in Florence and Dresden, influenced by Velasquez, Sargent's career as a portraitist began in Paris. He later settled in London where he maintained a rigorous schedule, adding watercolors and drawings to his expanding oeuvre. His portraits were commissioned by the Rockefeller family, statesmen, authors, and actors, enhancing Sargent's celebrity. It was argued snobbishly 'that Sargent was most useful to people with new money or foreign blood who want to buy social recognition.' In a day that paid homage to power and physical beauty, very much as we do today, Sargent knew no peer. With some 100 illustrations and well crafted text, this beautiful volume represents him well. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2010

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