KEEPING A RENDEZVOUS by John Berger

KEEPING A RENDEZVOUS

KIRKUS REVIEW

Berger (The Sense of Sight, 1985, etc.) as art critic is a maddening case. Most of the time his once-fashionable leftism falls like a caul over the paintings and photographs that he uses, literally, as pretexts for these short essays (most reprinted from The Village Voice, Harper's, etc.). Ideology and preconception will force up a fatuity like "How then does the cinema overcome this limitation to attain its special power? It does so by celebrating what we have in common, what we share. The cinema longs to go beyond individuality"; or one such as the recommendation of love's "cyclical time" that opposes corporate capitalism's "unilinear" view of it; or a celebration of peasant "interiority." Berger may write of the abattoir and excrement here, but he is a Romantic at heart: Walter Benjamin with a rucksack. The best art critics make you want to see more; Berger wants you to feel more--and his wanting before images sometimes distorts or even obscures them. On the other hand, he can on occasion bring his eyes to bear on certain painters and sculptors with private intimacy and intuition. About Pollock, Henry Moore's sculptures ("Their notorious hollows and holes are sites of a sensation of enclosure, cradling, nuzzling. Before Moore's art, as before nobody else's, we are reminded that we are mammals"), and Renoir, Berger is unusually stellar. A too-mixed bag, unbalanced mostly by political deadweight.
Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0679737146
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1991




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