When he stands before Giorgione's La Tempesta, Booker Prize-winning author John Berger sees not only the painting but our whole notion of time, sweeping us away from a lost Eden. A photograph of a gravely joyful crowd gathered on a Prague street in November 1989 provokes reflection on the meaning of democracy and the reunion of a people with long-banished hopes and dreams.With the luminous essays in Keeping a Rendezvous, we are given to see the world as Berger sees it -- to explore themes suggested by the work of Jackson Pollock or J. M. W. Turner, to contemplate the wonder of Paris. Rendezvous are manifold: between critic and art, artist and subject, subject and the unknown. But most significant are the rendezvous between author and reader, as we discover our perceptions informed by Berger's eloquence and courageous moral imagination.
In the 1960's and 1970's, American professor Norton Dodge forayed on his own in the Soviet Union, bought the work of underground unofficial artists, and brought it out himself or arranged to have it shipped illegally to the United States. John McPhee investigates Dodge's clandestine activities in the service of dissident Soviet art, his motives for his work, and the fates of several of the artists whose lives he touched. The Ransom of Russian Art is a suspenseful, chilling, and fascinating report on a covert operation like no other.
Dreaming by the Book explores the almost miraculous processes by which poets and writers teach us the work of imaginative creation. Writers from Homer to Heaney instruct us in the art of mental composition, even as their poems progress. Just as painters understand paint, composers musical instruments, and sculptors stone or metal, verbal artists understand the only material in which their creations will get made--the back-lit tissue of the human brain. In her brilliant synthesis of literary criticism, philosophy, and cognitive psychology, Elaine Scarry explores the principal practices by which writers bring things to life for their readers.
Mark Doty's prose has been hailed as tempered and tough, sorrowing and serene (The New York Times Book Review) and achingly beautiful (The Boston Globe). In Still Life with Oysters and Lemon he offers a stunning exploration of our attachment to ordinary things-how we invest objects with human store, and why.
In his 1956-57 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, the Russian-born American painter Ben Shahn sets down his personal views of the relationship of the artist--painter, writer, composer--to his material, his craft, and his society. He talks of the creation of the work of art, the importance of the community, the problem of communication, and the critical theories governing the artist and his audience.
This book explores van Gogh's and Gauguin's conviction that the purpose of visual art in human culture is to communicate a spiritual understanding of existence comparable to the wisdom contained in the metaphors and parables of myths, religions, and literature. Monographic studies in the book, which entail many new interpretations of van Gogh's and Gauguin's imagery, reveal the ways in which their ideas and the specific events of their personal lives shaped their creation of meaningful symbolic motifs.