Always Looking - John Updike

I love to read John Updike’s essays, especially those on artists, which were collected in two volumes, Just Looking (1989) and Still Looking (2005). The posthumous companion, Always Looking: Essays on Art (Knopf, $45), leads off with Updike’s Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, delivered in 2008 in Washington. I was lucky to be in the audience at the Warner Theater for this slide-talk entitled “The Clarity of Things” which connected the “American-ness” in paintings by John Singleton Copley, Winslow Homer, and Thomas Eakins, among others. The lecture, like Updike’s essays, was full of close observation and an obvious love of his subjects. Always Looking continues with fourteen other pieces on such topics as the monotypes of Degas, the landscapes of Frederick Edwin Church, the patterned interiors of Vuillard, Miró’s graffiti, and the pop worlds of Lichtenstein and Oldenburg. It’s great art and great Updike.
Always Looking: Essays on Art By John Updike, Christopher Carduff (Editor) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307957306
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Knopf - November 27th, 2012

Masterworks: The Barnes Foundation - Judith F. Dolkart, Martha Lucy, Derek Gillman

After a contentious legal battle over moving its collection, the Barnes Foundation opened its new building in downtown Philadelphia this May. Most importantly, the configurations of rooms and of the art remained intact. Alfred Barnes assembled one of the most dazzling collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early Modern works in the world (and a few Old Masters as well). He viewed the Foundation as a teaching venue, and he hung the paintings in symmetrical groupings he called “ensembles.” These were juxtaposed with folk art furniture, African masks, and many beautiful examples of metalwork—hinges, keys, escutcheons, and utensils that were interspersed with the paintings to “activate” the space. Masterworks: The Barnes Foundation (Skira/ Rizzoli, $40) takes you on a virtual tour of twenty-one of the ensembles with unobstructed fold-out views and detailed close-ups. You will see Matisses (he painted The Dance especially for the main room), Cézannes, Gaugins, Picassos, a lot of Renoirs, but also a Pennsylvania German cupboard and a Zuni Pueblo jar. There is commentary by Chief Curator Judith F. Dolkart, Associate Curator Martha Lucy, and Director Derek Gillman. This beautifully produced volume will inspire a trip to see the collection.
The Barnes Foundation: Masterworks By Judith F. Dolkart, Martha Lucy, Derek Gillman, The Barnes Foundation (Contributions by) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780847838066
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Skira Rizzoli - May 22nd, 2012

A Curator’s Quest - William Rubin, Richard Oldenburg

As you turn the pages of A Curator’s Quest: Building the Collection of Painting and Sculpture of the Museum of Modern Art, 1967-1988 (Overlook, $100) and see one iconic work after another that William Rubin acquired for the museum, you realize that MoMA was definitely the house that Alfred H. Barr and Rubin built. William Rubin was an art history professor at Sarah Lawrence—and a collector with a loft full of works by Rothko, Pollock, de Kooning, and Kline—when he became the Chief Curator, then the Director, of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA. Besides the hundreds of works he helped acquire, he mounted great exhibitions like Picasso: A Retrospective and “Primitivism” in 20th-Century Art. Each of the book’s three sections could be a volume in itself: Rubin’s 150-page essay on his career (which takes you inside the world of trustees and collectors); over 300 pages of color reproductions of key acquisitions; and eight lectures on “The Pioneers of Modernism” (also with plenty of illustrations). Yes, it’s heavy, but perfect for this heavyweight personality—and for any art lover.