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Always Looking: Essays on Art Hardcover – November 27, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In the third volume of his Looking series of art-essay collections, following Just Looking (1989) and Still Looking (2005), and published posthumously, Updike expands on his articulation of the complex pleasures of intense scrutiny. He is sensuously receptive and discerningly critical as he peers closely and steps back for a more encompassing gaze to assess how each artist brings paint to life. Most of the essays are scintillating and learned biographical and aesthetic responses to major museum exhibits of such artists as Édouard Vuillard, René Magritte, Max Beckmann, Joan Miró, and Richard Serra. But in “The Clarity of Things,” his 2008 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, Updike discusses Picturing America—a set of 40 reproductions created by the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities for use in schools and libraries, taking fresh approaches to Gilbert Stuart, Winslow Homer, and Norman Rockwell and posing and answering the question, “What is American about American art?” For all their immediacy, Updike’s vital works of art criticism are timeless. --Donna Seaman

About the Author

John Updike was the author of more than sixty books, including twenty-three novels and dozens of collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His work has been honored with the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Gold Medal for Fiction of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009.
 

Christopher Carduff is a member of the staff of The Library of America and the editor of John Updike’s Higher Gossip: Essays and Criticism.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (November 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307957306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307957306
  • ASIN: 0307957306
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.8 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #602,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker, and since 1957 lived in Massachusetts. He was the father of four children and the author of more than fifty books, including collections of short stories, poems, essays, and criticism. His novels won the Pulitzer Prize (twice), the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal. A previous collection of essays, Hugging the Shore, received the 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. John Updike died on January 27, 2009, at the age of 76.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Great Faulkner's Ghost TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Arguably America's last great man of letters, the late John Updike's interests ranged from art, to literature, children's books, and occasionally to golf. With the exception of literature, in which he wrote from the perspective of a foremost practitioner, he was, as he admits himself, more of a well-informed dabbler. Therein lies the charm of this book, capturing his observations on art by collecting various pieces he wrote, primarily for the NYRB, New Republic, and for honorary lectures. They are not the observations of an "art critic" per se, but of a professed non-expert (like most of us), who was at the same time, one of the most profoundly literate, and intelligent men of his era. In short, he approached art in the way most of us do, as an amateur, yet with far greater artistic gifts and sensibilities than certainly I, and probably most people, could ever dream of. Thus, I found his observation to be so helpful to me -- like, "yes, that is exactly the same question I had, and, of course, that is exactly what I was sorta' thinking, but couldn't quite get too." In short, I enjoyed lingering on every page of this book, with its lovely reproductions of the art Updike is describing (I only wish that more of the painting/art were actually pictured), and of course, the mind of John Updike himself, who loved art, and who took time from his too short, but marvelously productive literary life to explain art to those of us who shared his passion for it, using the full range of his immense intellectual and humanistic gifts.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Only a few people can use words to help one see. Sometimes art writers use words are used to impress each other I fear. . Clarity abounds in this celebrated authors insights. Who knew he was an art groupie?
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By Teresa Barlis on January 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Updike researched the art and the artists to give a rich, thoughtful commentary on a number of art shows. He took art seriously.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This amazing American Man of Letters combines his knowledge of art (Oxford-Ruskin School) with his skill of observation and writing to product an interesting and informative art review book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this, the third in a series of essay on art. I only wish the illustrations could have been larger to enable the reader to fully appreciate Updike's critiques.
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