It is paradoxical that a mishandled attempt at a rather interesting concept for a millennium show at the National Gallery, London, should result in such a wonderful catalog. Twenty-five major contemporary artists were commissioned to create new works inspired by great paintings in the National Gallery collection. The artists include both the usual suspects (Francesco Clemente, Anselm Kiefer, Jasper Johns, and Balthus) and the obscure (Euan Uglow, Stephen Cox, and Leon Kossoff). Unfortunately, only three are women, and all of the artists are American or Western European--how interesting it would have been to have Vermeer, Rubens, Turner, and others reinterpreted by artists from vastly different backgrounds. Quibbles aside, the artists have, for the most part, produced fascinating meditations on the message and techniques of the old masters. Inspired by Stubbs, the English master of equine portraiture, Jeff Wall does a wonderful photo of a donkey, while Howard Hodgkins's super pointillist bathing scene is better than Seurat's original. All of the artists have essays explaining their motivation, their history, and those of the painters they chose for inspiration. The numerous color illustrations are of excellent quality. This catalog is recommended both as an examination of select modern and old masters and as an exploration of the nature of inspiration and the forces overt and impalpable that influence it.--David McClelland, Philadelphia Gwathmey Siegel Houses. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.