Paper Museum: Writings about Painting, Mostly

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Hardcover New Spare and utterly fresh in their point of view, these essays were written in response to notable exhibitions of Western art that appeared in museums across ... Europe. Graham-Dixon's vision is at the service of a captivatingly quirky, prodigiously cultivated mind, making him one of Britain's most talented young art critics. Photos. full-color paintings. Read more Show Less

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1997 Hardcover New 0679455205. Flawless copy, brand new, pristine, never opened--404 pp. With 87 ills. (4 col. ). 23 x 18 cm.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The broad view of the artsthat they are meant to enlarge our worldis everywhere apparent in this collection of essays by the author of such books as A History of British Art and the art critic for The Independent where these pieces were initially published. Through reviews of significant exhibitions of Western art, the pleasures of good painting emerge, informed by a journalistic critic who gets close to the work he is considering. "None of the people here seems to be communicating with one another," Graham-Dixon writes of the half-lit creatures in Toulouse-Lautrec's painting, Au Moulin Rouge. Even when he comes across an artist he cannot wholeheartedly embrace, such as the pointillist Seurat, he uses his wit and erudition to produce a fresh insightin this case, wondering if Seurat is the father of Pop art. One view of journalistic criticism holds that its primary function is not to tell the reader whether a work of art is bad or good but, instead, to give the reader enough information so that he can make up his own mind. To his credit, Graham-Dixon does both, enhancing his supple, reportorial style with an exuberant tone. The British critic William Hazlitt, whom Graham-Dixon admires, defined the common-place critic as a "pedant of polite conversation," a person who "thinks by proxy and talks by rote." Graham-Dixon is anything but. Four pages of color reproductions, 38 photographs. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Graham-Dixon is touted by the voluble Robert Hughes as the "most gifted English art critic of his generation." Although the contents of this superb compilation of (mostly) exhibition reviews have previously appeared in the British daily Independent, where the author has a regular column, they are far better than most art journalism. Like Hughes, Graham-Dixon writes in an impressively learned and opinionated fashion, but he has less of a predilection for the rhetorical cri de coeur. Still, he's unafraid of expressing an unpopular view, as in daring to begin an essay on Rembrandt by calmly asserting that he was "a thoroughly inconsistent and frequently inept artist." But he fleshes out this last statement by gracefully articulating how its evident truthfulness undermines recent controversial attempts to deattribute many works previously thought to be Rembrandt's own. He's gently convincing in coming down on the side of old-style connoisseurship vs. X-ray science in evaluating creative authorship. These 53 essays are wonderful reading for any art lover and should attract a deservedly wide audience. Highly recommended.Douglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L., Cal.
Kirkus Reviews
Graham-Dixon, the art critic for the British newspaper the Independent, notes in the introduction to this collection of his terse critiques of museum exhibits and gallery shows that they were written not "for posterity but for tomorrow's newspaper." That makes them more, rather than less, impressive: Whether discussing Egon Schiele's disturbing nudes, C├ęzanne's turbulent apprenticeship, Claude Lorrain's "radiant, melancholy" landscapes, the "graceless, scurrilous, irreverent" late art of Picasso, or the ideology of nationalism and hygiene shaping Vermeer's paintings, Graham-Dixon is exact and persuasive. He renders the specifics of a work of art with great precision (and, often, sympathy), and matches the specifics with short, deft passages on each artist's background, tastes, intentions, and career. He doesn't mind sharing his enthusiasms, is witty without ever seeming jaded, and can usually find a metaphor or image to nicely sum up the particular impact of a work of art. The hasty origins of the pieces sometimes intrudes; there's little room for documenting assertions. Nonetheless, this is a stimulating, often surprising debut collection.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679455202
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/7/1997
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 7.18 (w) x 8.95 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Table of Contents

Holbein 3
Poussin 7
Velazquez 13
Rembrandt 19
Constable 27
Sassetta 33
Goya 37
Van Gogh 43
Reinhardt 47
On a wing and a prayer 51
Michelangelo 59
Poussin 63
Manet 69
Cezanne 77
Schiele 81
Masson 87
Picasso 91
Willem de Kooning 97
Cassiano dal Pozzo 105
The Badminton Cabinet 111
Ruskin 117
Rembrandt 121
Gombrich and Baxandall 133
Gericault 137
Mantegna 145
Claude Lorrain 151
Goya 157
Gericault 165
Manet 173
Degas 177
Toulouse-Lautrec 183
Seurat 187
Sickert 193
Guston 199
Warhol 205
Whistler 213
Moore 219
Miro 225
Klee 229
David 235
Sisley 239
Gauguin 245
Picabia 251
Giacometti 255
Freud 261
David 267
Vermeer and de Hooch 271
Spencer 279
Whiteread 285
The Wilton Diptych 291
Canaletto 295
Rubens and Van Dyck 303
Tiepolo and Piazzetta 309
Vuillard and Bonnard 315
Picasso and Braque 321
Mengs 329
Danby 335
Modigliani 339
Matisse 347
Turner 353
Morandi 359
Bonnard 365
Picture Credits 371
Index 377
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