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At just under six by seven inches and 170 pages, Michael Taylor's Rembrandt book is a perfect stocking stuffer for the casual art lover. In an engaging, suave style, Mr. Taylor ponders the most protrusive part of the human face, which assumes in Rembrandt's portraits and self-portraits a palpably fleshy and often emotional presence. More than just a gimmick, Mr. Taylor's nasal approach is a way to insist on Rembrandt's down-to-earth corporeality, which can be obscured when the focus is on the formal or the spiritual. Mr. Taylor's view is not as irreverent or subversive as his title promises, but for readers not already well versed in Rembrandt scholarship, it will serve as a fine introduction to his art and life. (Ken Johnson The New York Times 2007-12-07)
Taylor proves a joy to read. Hitherto a translator of French poetry, he has made himself thoroughly at home with the art historical evidence and he deftly unfolds a life story in précis around the self-portraits and such pictures as the Bathsheba. Taylor's eye seems to keep pace with Rembrandt's brush, here brusque, there punctilious; his diction is chunky and sensual; he loves to imagine, to cast similes, to surf whatever breakers of emotion the picture rolls his way . Peering so keenly, Taylor does indeed touch on the quick of the art, and yet the mystery of its relation to the culture around it stays intact. (Julian Bell New York Review of Books 2007-09-21)
From the Publisher
"Anyone who took art history (or lots of art history) will laugh with recognition -- we've all wondered why the hell Rembrandt painted all of his men with enormous drunkard's noses. Finally the answers (or speculations) in book form. Surprisingly readable." --Dave Eggers, Publisher, McSweeney's, and author of What is the What and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
"Taylor proves a joy to read. Hitherto a translator of French poetry, he has made himself thoroughly at home with the art historical evidence... and he deftly unfolds a life story in précis around the self-portraits and such pictures as the Bathsheba. Taylor's eye seems to keep pace with Rembrandt's brush, here brusque, there punctilious; his diction is chunky and sensual; he loves to imagine, to cast similes, to surf whatever breakers of emotion the picture rolls his way.... Peering so keenly, Taylor does indeed touch on the quick of the art, and yet the mystery of its relation to the culture around it stays intact." --Julian Bell, The New York Review of Books
"Reading Taylor, one is convinced that the painter conveyed much of his wisdom regarding human nature with his subjects' noses. The book is full of reproductions. Alone, in total privacy, you can agree or disagree with Taylor's ideas; look, look again, look again!" --Susan Salter Reynolds, The Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Delightfully odd....The nose? What could be sillier? Yet, Taylor shows the eloquence that Rembrandt brought to his depiction of his own nose in self-portraits and to the noses of his other sitters, and he taps into that eloquence to tell the story of the artist's life and his inner joys and turmoil. Of course, the illustrations, in color and sepia-toned, are exquisite. And, after reading the book, you're not likely to ever look at a portrait again--or at a living person--without studying the nose for its glimpses into the soul." --Pat Reardon, The Chicago Tribune
"Rembrandt's Nose is seeded with...startling, illuminating bits of knowledge, and they alone are worth the price of admission to the imaginary museum that Taylor curates for us." --Julia Wallace, The Village Voice
"Michael Taylor creates a series of portraits that are as full of ingenuity, passion, and attention to quirky detail as Rembrandt's paintings themselves. Art history has seldom been so entertaining and enlightening." --Ross King, author of Brunelleschi's Dome, The Judgment of Paris, and Michelangelo & the Pope's Ceiling.
"Michael Taylor's starting point for this enchanting essay is a feature that is as plain as could be, and is central to the destiny and the mortal features and aspirations of his great subject, the painter. Taylor's meditation unfolds with grace of language and insight, and a familiar use of what can be known now of Rembrandt and the world he revealed." --W.S. Merwin, former Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and recipient of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
About the Author
Michael Taylor teaches at Parsons School of Design in Paris.