An art expert’s often enchanting paean to being there, however inaccessible that pursuit may be.

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THE PURSUIT OF ART

TRAVELS, ENCOUNTERS AND REVELATIONS

A passionate globe-trot through the history of art and art appreciation.

Spectator art critic Gayford (Modernists and Mavericks: Bacon, Freud, Hockney and the London Painters, 2018, etc.) believes in the power of being present; when it comes to viewing art, “there is no substitute for being there.” “The deepest and richest experiences are not virtual but physical,” he writes. “They involve looking at real things and talking to real people.” The author chronicles his travels from the mountains of China to Marfa, Texas, all in search of a genuine art experience. As a travel writer, Gayford is an exceptional guide: His visit to Târgu Jiu in Romania to see Constantin Brancusi’s masterwork Endless Column is an inspirational pilgrimage, while his hunt for Lorenzo Lotto’s oeuvre in Northern Italy is a riveting study in unstable itineraries, expectations, and adaptation. Some journeys are simply interviews with contemporary artists like Gerhard Richter and Jenny Saville; while often captivating, they lack the sense of adventure that makes other sections of the collection so transportive. The author’s account of his trip to Beijing to cover the British artists Gilbert & George is a standout, as it simultaneously functions as a travelogue and an artist profile. While Gayford’s passion is contagious and will conjure in readers dreams of travel, he also unintentionally narrows the landscape of art appreciation. “To understand Tintoretto,” he writes, “you’ve really got to go to Venice.” While he may be correct, he also effectively pushes a gate closed on casual aficionados who may never make it to Italy. A private visit to Anselm Kiefer’s studio organized by the Royal Academy and an exclusive, early viewing of Roni Horn’s “Library of Water” in Iceland are rapturous treks to read about, but they also feel within reach only to the financially elite and those with top-tier press credentials.

An art expert’s often enchanting paean to being there, however inaccessible that pursuit may be.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-09411-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

HUMANS OF NEW YORK

STORIES

Photographer and author Stanton returns with a companion volume to Humans of New York (2013), this one with similarly affecting photographs of New Yorkers but also with some tales from his subjects’ mouths.

Readers of the first volume—and followers of the related site on Facebook and elsewhere—will feel immediately at home. The author has continued to photograph the human zoo: folks out in the streets and in the parks, in moods ranging from parade-happy to deep despair. He includes one running feature—“Today in Microfashion,” which shows images of little children dressed up in various arresting ways. He also provides some juxtapositions, images and/or stories that are related somehow. These range from surprising to forced to barely tolerable. One shows a man with a cat on his head and a woman with a large flowered headpiece, another a construction worker proud of his body and, on the facing page, a man in a wheelchair. The emotions course along the entire continuum of human passion: love, broken love, elation, depression, playfulness, argumentativeness, madness, arrogance, humility, pride, frustration, and confusion. We see varieties of the human costume, as well, from formalwear to homeless-wear. A few celebrities appear, President Barack Obama among them. The “stories” range from single-sentence comments and quips and complaints to more lengthy tales (none longer than a couple of pages). People talk about abusive parents, exes, struggles to succeed, addiction and recovery, dramatic failures, and lifelong happiness. Some deliver minirants (a neuroscientist is especially curmudgeonly), and the children often provide the most (often unintended) humor. One little boy with a fishing pole talks about a monster fish. Toward the end, the images seem to lead us toward hope. But then…a final photograph turns the light out once again.

A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05890-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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A fascinating, major work that will spark endless debates.

WARHOL

An epic cradle-to-grave biography of the king of pop art from Gopnik (co-author: Warhol Women, 2019), who served as chief art critic for the Washington Post and the art and design critic for Newsweek.

With a hoarder’s zeal, Andy Warhol (1928-1987) collected objects he liked until shopping bags filled entire rooms of his New York town house. Rising to equal that, Gopnik’s dictionary-sized biography has more than 7,000 endnotes in its e-book edition and drew on some 100,000 documents, including datebooks, tax returns, and letters to lovers and dealers. With the cooperation of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the author serves up fresh details about almost every aspect of Warhol’s life in an immensely enjoyable book that blends snappy writing with careful exegeses of the artist’s influences and techniques. Warhol exploded into view in his mid-40s with his pop art paintings of Campbell’s Soup cans and silkscreens of Elvis and Marilyn. However, fame didn’t banish lifelong anxieties heightened by an assassination attempt that left him so fearful he bought bulletproof eyeglasses. After the pop successes, Gopnik writes, Warhol’s life was shaped by a consuming desire “to climb back onto that cutting edge,” which led him to make experimental films, launch Interview magazine, and promote the Velvet Underground. At the same time, Warhol yearned “for fine, old-fashioned love and coupledom,” a desire thwarted by his shyness and his awkward stance toward his sexuality—“almost but never quite out,” as Gopnik puts it. Although insightful in its interpretations of Warhol’s art, this biography is sure to make waves with its easily challenged claims that Warhol revealed himself early on “as a true rival of all the greats who had come before” and that he and Picasso may now occupy “the top peak of Parnassus, beside Michelangelo and Rembrandt and their fellow geniuses.” Any controversy will certainly befit a lodestar of 20th-century art who believed that “you weren’t doing much of anything as an artist if you weren’t questioning the most fundamental tenets of what art is and what artists can do.”

A fascinating, major work that will spark endless debates.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229839-3

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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