By John Updike
In this posthumous choice of John Updike’s paintings writings, a spouse quantity to the acclaimed Just having a look (1989) and Still Looking (2005), readers are back handled to “remarkably based essays” (Newsday) during which “the mental issues of the novelist force the attention from paintings to paintings until eventually a deep figuring out of the paintings emerges” (The ny instances publication Review).
continually taking a look opens with “The readability of Things,” the Jefferson Lecture within the Humanities for 2008. right here, in having a look heavily at person works via Copley, Homer, Eakins, Norman Rockwell, and others, the writer teases out what's ordinarily “American” in American paintings. This speak is by way of fourteen essays, such a lot of them written for The long island assessment of Books, on convinced highlights in Western artwork of the final 200 years: the enduring photographs of Gilbert Stuart and the elegant landscapes of Frederic Edwin Church, the sequence work of Monet and the monotypes of Degas, the richly patterned canvases of Vuillard and the golden extravagances of Klimt, the cryptic triptychs of Beckmann, the non-public graffiti of Miró, the verbal-visual puzzles of Magritte, and the enormous Pop of Oldenburg and Lichtenstein. The e-book ends with a attention of contemporary works via a dwelling American grasp, the steely sculptural environments of Richard Serra.
John Updike was once a gallery-goer of genius. Always Looking is, like every thing else he wrote, a call for participation to appear, to see, to recognize the visible global during the eyes of a connoisseur.
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Extra info for Always Looking: Essays on Art
Excerpts from “The Clarity of Things” were published in The New York Review of Books and Humanities magazine. The full text of this lecture made reference to sixty-four images projected onscreen while the author spoke; it has been slightly abridged by Christopher Carduff for its appearance here. The remaining pieces were published, in somewhat different form and sometimes under different titles, in The New York Review of Books or The New Republic. These pieces were revised by the author for eventual book publication and deposited at Houghton Library, Harvard University, in December 2008, the month before his death.
On his death, the canvases went to the Boston Athenæum; since 1980, they have been jointly owned by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the National Portrait Gallery. Stuart copied this head of Washington over and over, and seven versions hang along one wall—some pinker than others, some frizzier in the wig, some funnier around the mouth, and one with a linen jabot instead of lace. It is this image that, flipped so the right instead of the left side of the face is presented, was used on the one-dollar bill, where the engraving for some reason looks more like Washington—calmer, steelier, more godlike and validated—than any painting does.
Such portraits, executed as a “useful trade” like sign painting and printmaking, were the sole genre of high art widely practiced in America before the nineteenth century brought in Romantic landscapes. They share a resolute attempt at likeness and an honest notation of such details as fabric patterns, but lack a convincing atmosphere and a third dimension; they are, as it were, two-and-a-half-dimensional, and so was Copley’s early work. The conventions of illusionistic painting, providing through tint and brushwork the sense of recession in space and of enclosing atmosphere, are not demanded by every culture.
Always Looking: Essays on Art by John Updike