- Hardcover: 340 pages
- Publisher: Penn State University Press; 1 edition (October 8, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0271036222
- ISBN-13: 978-0271036229
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.2 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,541,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Touch of Blossom: John Singer Sargent and the Queer Flora of Fin-de-Siècle Art 1st Edition
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“Imaginative, observant, and marvelously playful, Syme's discovery of a vegetal poetics sheds a powerful light on the myths and motifs of modern art. Hers is a vital new voice in art history.”
—Joseph Koerner, Harvard University
“If you want to understand the art of John Singer Sargent, read this book. If you want to understand something crucial about European and American culture at the turn of the twentieth century, read this book. With intelligence and wit, Syme moves us far beyond Sargent’s reputation as a glib socialite incapable of modernism. Instead, Syme shows, Sargent was painting an open sexual secret. Using a term from the period, Syme reveals the ‘invert’ implications, and associations, of one artwork after another. She introduces us to the poetics of the plant, the insect, and the bat. Nor is she afraid to write about the most polymorphously perverse sorts of sex, frankly and vividly. Aside from being a brilliant interpretation of Sargent’s work, Syme’s book belongs to the newest and most productive kind of art history: erudite and sensitive, rich in references, comparisons, and analyses of form. A Touch of Blossom brings us into fresh, immediate contact with the beauty of Sargent’s paintings, as if we were seeing them ourselves for the first time.”
—Anne Higonnet, Barnard College
“A Touch of Blossom’s contention that Sargent openly pursued an ‘invert’ agenda in his portraits may seem radical to some readers. However, any skepticism, if such exists, soon evaporates in the face of Alison Syme’s cogent, finely crafted argument. Written with wit and grace, and filled with vivid stylistic analyses and ingenious verbal and visual puns, this book is as engaging as the brilliant portraits it examines. Its opulent illustrations and sophisticated design complement Penn State Press’s admirable commitment to breaking down the academic barriers between art and science. The result is a brave and original cultural portrait that rivals Sargent’s own in subtlety, depth, and beauty.”
—Laurinda Dixon, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide
About the Author
Alison Syme is Associate Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Toronto.
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