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Antoine's Alphabet: Watteau and His World Paperback – September 15, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The 18th-century rococo artist Jean-Antoine Watteau is art critic Perl's favorite painter, one who transforms powerful feelings—of love, friendship, lust, avidity, curiosity—into delectable artistic play and poetic pattern. Perl's exquisitely composed study is organized alphabetically; from Actors and Art-for-Art's Sake to Zeuxis, and each chapter involves a theme, individual or movement related to Watteau. There are many delightful surprises, even to the reader familiar with the artist's oeuvre; Perl illuminates the links between Watteau's Harlequins and Pierrots and Beckett's characters, so clownish and so heartrending. His entry on Flirtation expands this theme, ubiquitous in Watteau's paintings, into a profound commentary on love and metamorphosis. Perl's essays on Watteau's most famous works, The Pilgrimage to the Isle of Cythera and Gersaint's Shopsign, are equally inspired; Cythera displays what for Perl are Watteau's most poignant themes: the confounding of one's own emotions and the elegant chaos of the mind's consistently contradictory nature. Perl, art critic for the New Republic, has written a carefully researched, book of rare beauty and provocation. 44 illus. (Sept. 19)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
After the inclusiveness of New Art City (2005), art critic Perl focuses on a single artist, his favorite, the early-eighteenth-century French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau. Anticipating surprise at his choice, Perl vanquishes any and all trivialized views, declaring that this painter of frolicsome and romantic scenes of “lovers and dreamers” in unkempt, secretive gardens is an artist of audacity and resonance. Emulating “the sneakiness of Watteau’s seriousness,” Perl marshals his considerable interpretative acuity and extraordinary gift for fresh language to create a sophisticated variation on the alphabet book. This form allows Perl to free-associate in one clever entry after another as he interprets Watteau’s bold extrapolation of the commedia dell’arte and quest to depict “the struggle to feel fully alive.” Perl ponders what little is known of this quicksilver painter, who died at 36 in 1721, and muses over the insights of such fellow Watteau enthusiasts as Samuel Beckett. The ebullience, mischief, and discernment of this artful lexicon perfectly embody the shimmer and steeliness of Watteau’s incisive drawings and paintings. Works we’ll never view lightly again. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
The book is small and precise and sports a beautiful cover painting by Watteau. What a marvelous gift for the person with everything. Worry no more. *JTQ