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Reading Pictures: A History of Love and Hate
     

Reading Pictures: A History of Love and Hate

by Alberto Manguel
 
Reading Pictures looks at the work of great artists -- from the intensely familiar to the undiscovered -- and examines the stories behind them, tracing the passage of life into art. Pablo Picasso torments his mistress Dora Maar and then paints brilliant studies of her grief-crumpled face; these evolve into the weeping woman in his great indictment of fascism,

Overview

Reading Pictures looks at the work of great artists -- from the intensely familiar to the undiscovered -- and examines the stories behind them, tracing the passage of life into art. Pablo Picasso torments his mistress Dora Maar and then paints brilliant studies of her grief-crumpled face; these evolve into the weeping woman in his great indictment of fascism, Guernica. Manguel untangles what this story, and countless others, shows us of our twin impulses toward creation and destruction. A tour of the psyche more than of the museum, this book dares to ponder, with contagious wonder, why we create.

Not since John Berger's influential Ways of Seeing has an essayist so eloquently examined what happens when we are moved by profound works of art and how we decode a wordless language that touches us so intimately. Richly illustrated, Reading Pictures shows us that there is no limit to the stories we may find if we look with care and delight.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Alberto Manguel is the acclaimed author of several award-winning books, including A Dictionary of Imaginary Places and A History of Reading, which was an international bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, a Times Literary Supplement International Book of the Year, and Winner of France's Prix Medicis. He is a widely sought-after speaker, and will lecture at museums worldwide, including the Louvre, on the publication of Reading Pictures. He was born in Buenos Aires and lives in France.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The author of an eclectic body of work (e.g., Dictionary of Imaginary Places, History of Reading), Manguel turns his eye to the art world in this engaging and learned exploration of 11 works of art. Manguel mixes art history and artists' biographies with a liberal dose of his own wide-ranging thoughts and knowledge. He explores works from a diverse collection of artists, ranging across Western art history, from the ancient Greek painter Philoxenus, to Lavinia Fontana and Caravaggio, to artists of our own century, including Picasso, Joan Mitchell, and Tina Modotti. Reminding us that much of what he says is his own opinion (and often contrary to commonly held views), Manguel challenges us to think about the work at hand and create our own reading of it. Though some, such as this reviewer, found the author's ideas fresh, informative, and entertaining, his style may not be for all tastes. Recommended for collections with patrons interested in art theory. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/01.] Martin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A middling work of art history and criticism by the noted literary essayist (Into the Looking-Glass Wood, 2000, etc.). Manguel views art as a process of creation and destruction whose signs are to be found, often hidden in symbols and allegory, in every work. What those signs mean, he maintains, is variable: "No story elicited by an image is final or exclusive," he writes, "and measures of correctness vary according to the same circumstances that give rise to the story itself." That said, Manguel walks his readers through a highly selective, fascinating gallery of images, placing works by famed painters (Picasso, Caravaggio) alongside ones by lesser-knowns (Joan Mitchell, Aleijadinho) to serve as examples of the ideas behind art. Manguel's reflections on artists and their oeuvre are refreshingly wide-ranging: in writing about the doomed Italian-born photographer Tina Modotti, for instance, he name-checks Pliny, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, Mehmet the Conqueror, Primo Levi, and Plutarch, among others, while an affectionate examination of the work of the little-known Renaissance portraitist Lavinia Fontana offers a learned synopsis of the work of just about every theoretician on perspective from antiquity to the 17th century. The essays are sometimes a little haphazard; of Modotti's motives, for instance, we learn little more than "she opposed injustice," and he describes a painting by the contemporary artist Marianna Gartner as "static, a moment deliberately pulled out of time"-which is to say, like nearly every other work of art ever made. Still, Manguel's observations often hit the mark, in particular his account of Picasso's often-studied Guernica, a fine example ofart criticism that doesn't take itself too seriously and that works at every level. Intelligent and well-written, though also glancing and provisional.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375503023
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/25/2001
Edition description:
1st U.S. Edition
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.79(w) x 9.59(h) x 1.09(d)

Read an Excerpt

This profoundly illuminating, entertaining book could well change the way we "read" the visual world around us, and certainly help open our eyes and minds to its astonishing riches. The language in which we speak about art has become steadily more abstruse, a jargon that only art critics and con-artists can understand, though for thousands of years this was not the case. Today, we live in a kaleidoscopic new world of images: Is there a vocabulary we can learn in order to read these images? Is there something we can do so as not to remain passive when we flip through an illustrated book, or download images on a screen? Are there ways in which we can "read" the stories within paintings, monuments, buildings and sculptures? We say "every picture tells a story" - but does it?
Taking a handful of extraordinary images - photographed, painted, built, sculpted - Alberto Manguel explores how each one attempts to tell a story that we, the viewer, must decipher or invent. A History of Love and Hate is not about art history or theory - it is about the astonishing pleasures and surprises of stories.
From the Hardcover edition.

Author Biography:

Meet the Author

Alberto Manguel is the acclaimed author of several award-winning books, including A Dictionary of Imaginary Places and A History of Reading, which was an international bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, a Times Literary Supplement International Book of the Year, and Winner of France's Prix Medicis. He is a widely sought-after speaker, and will lecture at museums worldwide, including the Louvre, ont he publication of Reading Pictures. He was born in Buenos Aires and lives in France.

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