A lively, revealing collection of interviews with some of the most important contemporary artists of the 20th century....


"PORTRAITS: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre, and Elsewhere"

A lively, revealing collection of interviews with some of the most important contemporary artists of the 20th century. Kimmelman, chief art critic for the New York Times, conceived a series of articles exploring the intersection of contemporary and historical art. Rather than taking an academic approach, however, he simply invited various artists to meet him at a major museum (more often than not New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art), prowl the galleries, and discuss the work on view. The results were energetic, conversational articles that showcased voices other than the critic's own. Kimmelman knew exactly what be was about: the series provoked tremendous response and helped debunk the notion that artists were an inarticulate brush-waving lot. In fact, as evidenced by the expanded interviews collected here, the opposite holds true. Most of the artists featured, from Elizabeth Murray, Roy Lichtenstein, and Richard Serra to Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and Kiki Smith, are profoundly sensitive to other artists' work and able to discuss their own responses with ease and critical acuity. As the author himself notes, ""the artists are like critics in the old Bloomsbury sense: people who treat Old Masters with the same urgency or disdain that they feel toward new art, because old art is also alive to them."" In this book, Kimmelman collects the best of those interviews, some 18 in total, and arranges them in a series of verbal portraits, particular in focus and surprisingly affecting. The conversations not only work as discrete scenes in and of themselves (no one reading them will be able to forget the image of Lucian Freud rambling through the London National Gallery's halls in the middle of the night) but also cohere, providing an indelible overview of certain artists' personalities and aesthetics. Kimmelman succeeds in transmitting a sense of the immediacy of all art, regardless of the era in which it was made, as well as the playful, challenging intensity of some of its most famous practitioners.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998


Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998

Close Quickview