- 159,00 kr
‘Flaubert believed that it was impossible to explain one art form in terms of another, and 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 we are very far from reaching that state. We remain incorrigibly verbal creatures who love to explain things, to form opinions, to argue... 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.’
Julian Barnes began writing about art with a chapter on Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa in his 1989 novel A History of the World in 10½ Chapters. Since then he has written a series of remarkable essays, chiefly about French artists, which trace the story of how art made its way from Romanticism to Realism and into Modernism.
Fully illustrated in colour throughout, Keeping an Eye Open contains Barnes’ essays on Géricault, Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, Fantin-Latour, Cézanne, Degas, Redon, Bonnard, Vuillard, Vallotton, Braque, Magritte, Oldenburg, Howard Hodgkin and Lucian Freud.
In these sharply observed essays, English novelist Barnes (Sense of an Ending), levels his fine critical eye at the visual arts, principally focusing on French painting and the transition from romanticism to modernism. The Booker Prize winning novelist first wrote about art for his novel A History of the World in 10 Chapters (1989), which contains a study of Th odore G ricault's Raft of the Medusa; that study is this collection's stirring opener. French art remains Barnes's forte, and the book includes pieces on Eug ne Delacroix, douard Manet, Odilon Redon, and Georges Braque. He submits thoughts on these and other artists with sentences that coolly snap and continually delight. In his wonderful study of Edgar Degas's portrayals of women, Barnes knocks down the charge of misogyny and shows an argumentative spirit that is somewhat wanting in other places. "Do you constantly and obsessively fret at the representation of something you dislike or despise?" he provocatively asks. Barnes also revisits douard Vuillard's late paintings and Henri Fantin-Latour's star-studded group portraits; vividly brings out the crude bravado of Gustave Courbet, "a great painter, but also a serious publicity act"; and questions some of the more astronomical praise of Paul C zanne. He is equally deft on non-French artists, too. Pop artist Claes Oldenburg's work is "about as political as a hot dog," and Lucian Freud's pictures are exclusively about the "here and now." It's both a pleasure and an education to look over Barnes's shoulder as he interrogates, wonders at, and relishes works of art. He's a critic who prioritizes the objects themselves, and his work is always satisfying. Illus.