“Gripping.... Clark's stories of the flood are the stuff of thrilling documentaries.” —The Washington Post Book World
“A meditation on art, religion, the power of nature to destroy man's legacy on this Earth and the against-all-odds determination of people—young and old, working class and cultured, rich and poor-to save it.” —The Seattle Times
“Lovers of Florence/Firenze will fall into Dark Water headfirst.... A formidable accomplishment.” —Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun
“[A] vivid canvas of a city submerged.” –Men’s Vogue
“With the skill of an investigative reporter who can write beautifully, Clark not only describes the disastrous flood but also gives a history of Florence and the story of the people from all over the world who came to help save the city and its art.” –ARTnews
“History and art criticism, with a dash of memoir.... Evocative.” –BookPage
“A wonderfully intimate evocation both of the geniuses that created Florence’s masterpieces and the teams of art experts and ‘mud angels’ who rescued them. Anyone visiting Florence after reading Dark Water will find the city all the more precious and miraculous.” –Ross King, author of Brunelleschi's Dome
“Enthralling.” –The Economist
“Dark Water is not simply the best book yet about the flood that devastated Florence in November, 1966; it’s a new kind of art history–one that reflects on the transformation of a real Italian city (Firenze) into an imaginary city that’s become almost a museum of itself (Florence).” –Robert Hellenga, author of The Sixteen Pleasures
Clark's stories of the flood are the stuff of thrilling documentaries.
The Washington Post
The Arno River flood that deluged Florence, Italy, in 1966-killing 33 people and damaging 14,000 works of art and countless books and antiques-frames this meditation on the relationship between art and life. Clark (River of the West) embarks first on a leisurely history of Florence's intertwined experience of great floods and great art, through the perceptions of Dante, Leonardo, E.M. Forster and other writers and artists. The world's rapt concern for Florence's cultural treasures contrasts sharply with its neglect of the city's inhabitants, Clark argues, offering his impressionistic account of the 1966 disaster as seen through the eyes of artists, photographers, volunteer "mud angels" who swarmed the city to help rescue its waterlogged art and Communist militants who organized relief for poor neighborhoods. He then follows the decades-long and rancorously debated restoration projects, especially the controversial rehabilitation of Cimabue's 13th-century Crucifix, seeing in them a metaphor for artistic beauty as an endless work-in-progress. Clark's study is sometimes unfocused, but by building up layers of atmospheric chiaroscuro-the drying city, he notes, lay "lacquered in tints of warm earth and azzuro sky... like pigments just brushed on and still moist"-he achieves an evocative portrait of Florence as its own greatest masterpiece. (Oct. 7)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A devastating flood hit Florence in 1966, leaving destruction in its wake: millions of books and records and tens of thousands of Renaissance art works were damaged or lost. People died and property was lost, but it was the destruction of Florence's art treasures that drew the attention of the Western world. Volunteer workers-"mud angels"-arrived from all over, but no one knew how to rescue and restore art, including saturated works on paper, on such a massive scale. Clark uses this riveting story to meditate on the communion that exists between artist and viewer and on the mortality of even the greatest art. At the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, six million books floated or were buried beneath water and viscous mud. Five of the ten gilded panels on Ghiberti's famous bronze doors were missing; three-quarters of the paint and gesso had flaked off Cimabue's crucifix. Clark combines a painter's eye with his skill as a writer: events come to life under his hand. When David Lees arrived to photograph a center spread for Life magazine, the "mud angels" were drying books and hanging them on clotheslines in the large hall in which they worked: "the book leaves looked like an enormous flock of doves descending." This exceptional work of popular history succeeds on all counts. It will satisfy the most discriminating reader. Enthusiastically recommended for large public and all academic collections.