Keeping An Eye Open

Keeping An Eye Open

Essays on Art

Book - 2015
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An extraordinary collection--hawk-eyed and understanding--from the Booker Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Sense of an Ending and Levels of Life .
As Julian Barnes explains: "Flaubert believed that...great paintings required no words of explanation. Braque thought the ideal state would be reached when we said nothing at all in front of a painting... But it is a rare picture which stuns, or argues, us into silence. And if one does, it is only a short time before we want to explain and understand the very silence into which we have been plunged." This is the exact dynamic that informs his new book. Barnes, in his 1989 novel A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters , had a chapter on Géricault's The Raft of the Medusa , and since then he has written about many great masters of nineteenth- and twentieth-century art, including Delacroix, Manet, Fantin-Latour, Cezanne, Degas, Redon, Bonnard, Vuillard, Vallotton, Braque, Magritte, Oldenburg, Howard Hodgkin and Lucian Freud. The seventeen essays gathered here are adroit, insightful and, above all, a true pleasure to read.
Publisher: Toronto :, Random House Canada,, 2015.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780345815170
Characteristics: viii, 278 pages : illustrations (chiefly colour) ; 23 cm.


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Jul 01, 2017

This is a collection of previously published articles on a somewhat random selection of painters. Most are interesting, although I generally do no agree with his viewpoint.

Jan 23, 2016

While not being an art historian, Barnes does have ability to look at art and analyze it in a way that often eludes the classically trained. The book consists of essays on art that he was commissioned to write by several magazines over the years, and that should inform your reading. It is clear that he loves art but none of these essays are spontaneous outpourings spurred by a need to bring his thoughts to paper. The first half of the book is extremely interesting as Barnes examines paintings in a way that goes beyond the technical aspects to the actual subject matter. The later essays fall into the intentional fallacy trap, so often an issue in literary criticism, and something Barnes as a post-modern novelist should be able to avoid. Still an interesting read, divided into small bites and following mostly French painting of the 19th century, a period much celebrated today by major museums.

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