From Publishers Weekly
Thechief art critic of the New York Times
, Kimmelman (Portraits
) delivers an uplifting art-is-good-for-you message that is surprisingly easy to swallow. Intelligent but not obscure, warm but not intrusively personal, Kimmelman manages in 10 chapters to cover a lot of ground, with a working definition of "art" that goes far beyond what's found in galleries and museums. The reader encounters not only the likes of Pierre Bonnard and Matthew Barney but Hugh Francis Hicks, a serious collector of lightbulbs, and Frank Hurley, whose miraculously preserved images of the 1914 Antarctic Endurance
expedition are as haunting as any "art." This is Kimmelman's point: though passionately concerned with "gallery" art, he is more concerned with the rewards of aesthetic experience, how the attentiveness we bring to art can help to make a "daily masterpiece" of ordinary life. Kimmelman's enthusiasm is infectious; he has an impressive ability to incorporate recent artistic trends into his argument; the chapter on "The Art of the Pilgrimage," for instance, discusses the earth art of Michael Heizer and the minimalism of Donald Judd with a clarity that doesn't shortchange the work's difficulty. If Proust can change your life, so can Bonnard. (Aug.)
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As chief art critic for the New York Times,
Kimmelman has developed a relaxed and welcoming approach to explicating art that makes this aptly unpredictable consideration of the role accidents and serendipity play in the making of art as pleasurable as it is enlightening. Kimmelman is interested in "how art transforms lives," and in how a life lived artistically can itself be seen as a masterpiece, and the examples he cites open up many new vistas of thought. He reflects on how Pierre Bonnard transformed his "circumscribed world" into a "fantastical" realm through sustained contemplation. He profiles Charlotte Salomon, whose remarkable painted diary survived after she perished in the Holocaust, and Jay DeFeo, who worked for decades on one colossal painting known as The Rose.
Kimmelman celebrates the snapshot as a great source for accidental masterpieces, and pays fresh tribute to Chardin and Wayne Thiebaud, painters who discern the "dignity" of ordinary things and the art of everyday life. And Kimmelman himself, a receptive and creative observer, turns criticism into story, thus making art out of thought. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved