Featuring wonderful illustrations, engaging prose, and a deep knowledge of the craft, this is a study in art history and...



A painter of still life and landscape shares her theories and re-creations of Johannes Vermeer’s artistic methods, primarily whether or not he used a camera obscura.

Vermeer’s paintings have been meticulously studied and analyzed with inconclusive results; facts about Vermeer the man are equally elusive. The lack of information about the man of Delft who lived in his mother-in-law’s house with his wife and more than a dozen children might indicate a man of little import. However, his work was appreciated during his (relatively short) life; only hard economic times dried up his customer base. Any artist will love this book because it shows that art is not just the process of putting paint on a surface. Vermeer used many steps to ready his canvas, from hemming the linen to sizing, stretching, smoothing, and priming, followed by a three-month drying period before creating an image. Grinding paints from natural materials and making only enough for a day’s painting before they dried up further elongated the process. The author is justifiably enthralled with Vermeer’s ability to capture light, how he draws us in to the action, as well as his perfection of composition. Most curiously, there appears to be no drawing in his paintings, only his tonal plan that constituted the “inventing” of the subject. Thus, the possibility of Vermeer using a lens or a camera obscura develops. The projected image would have been perfect to create the tonal makeup that every picture requires. Jelley makes a convincing case that this was only the first step in his creation, and his glazing of multiple colors atop the tonal invention makes perfect sense. The debate will continue, but the more we learn of Vermeer’s masterful use of color and light, the more we can love them.

Featuring wonderful illustrations, engaging prose, and a deep knowledge of the craft, this is a study in art history and methodology to delight an audience beyond just visual artists.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-19-878972-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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