From Library Journal
Phaidon continues its "Art & Ideas" series with these two explorations of major artists. Both books firmly anchor the art in the life-context and experiences of the artist, thus allowing the reader to chart clearly his thematic and stylistic development. Belkin (an editor of The Letters of Peter Paul Rubens, Northwestern Univ., 1991) sets the stage for a discussion of Rubens by explaining the political and religious divisions in the Netherlands and by examining his early family life. She traces Rubens's visit to Italy, where he immersed himself in the works of Titian, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Correggio, and then follows him to Antwerp, where he was both a full-fledged painter and a diplomat in good stead with the major courts of Europe. She does a marvelous job of tracking the progression of Rubens's artistic, allegorical, and iconographic content. The author also posits Rubens as a disillusioned diplomat who saw and portrayed women as peace-bearers in an age of turmoil. Bohm-Duchen (Understanding Modern Art, EDC Pubs., 1991) uses the flow of information since glasnost to flesh out the social, religious, and cultural context of Chagall's development as an artist. Although he preferred to be known as an intuitive "tabula rasa," Chagall's Russian-Jewish upbringing; his travels to Paris, Berlin, Palestine, and the United States; and his witness to two world wars greatly affected his work. The historical background Bohm-Duchen gives here can lead toward a better understanding of Chagall's art, but her Chagall is not as fully revealed as Belkin's Rubens. His persona still floats, unmoored, like the Green Violinist against the stark white background of the book's front cover. Based on their price and scope, both books are recommended for public and academic libraries.ANadine Dalton Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., OH
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
'Truly a wonderful, engaging and learned account, beautifully produced.' (Celeste Brusati, Department of Art History, University of Michigan) 'One of those rare texts that works splendidly for both the specialist and the novice. Belkin's logical, lucid presentation of information is exemplary.' (Susan Koslow, Department of Art History, City University of New York) 'Art & Ideas has broken new ground in making accessible authoritative views on periods, movements and concepts in art. As a series it represents a real advance in publishing.' (Sir Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate London) 'The format is wonderful and offers what had long been missing in academic studies: usable manuals for specific themes or periods...I am definitely not alone in welcoming Art & Ideas as a precious set of teaching tools.' (Joachim Pissarro, Yale University)
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