LEBASQUE: 1865-1937 by Lisa A. & Peter M. Fairbanks Banner

LEBASQUE: 1865-1937

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A casebook example of one of the major problems facing young art historians and museum and gallery curators these days: finding an artist so little known that his or her works haven't been analyzed to death, or examining some aspect of a more widely recognized artist's life that has been overlooked in previous studies. Banner and Fairbanks have opted for the first course of action and have come up with a work that attempts to elevate Henri Lebasque's conventional Intimist canvases to the realms of ""art."" In an apparent effort to lend significance to these totally predictable exercises in sunny domestic painting, the authors refer again and again to Lebasque's friendships with such masters as Matisse, Rouault and Bonnard, as if they believed there was such a thing as talent by association. They also resort to dotting their captions for the 65 color illustrations with such adjectives as ""delightful,"" ""wonderful"" and ""moving."" They seem unaware that most readers/viewers would prefer to make these evaluations themselves and will resent having their responses manipulated in quite so blatant a manner. Lebasque has been shrouded in obscurity for nearly 50 years. From the evidence here, it was well deserved. His subjects are mundane, his vision of the world unexceptional. Gertrude Stein once said that certain paintings, after they had been hanging a while, ""faded into the wallpaper."" Lebasque's works must have carried off this trick of pictorial legerdemain while they were still on the easel. The production values here are excellent--color reproductions that are subtle in their balance of warm and cool tones, glossy stock, attractive typefaces and formats. If only all this attention had been lavished on a subject worthy of such painstaking care.

Pub Date: Dec. 31st, 1986
Publisher: Bedford Press--dist. by Univ. of Washington Press