Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre, and Elsewhere by Michael Kimmelman

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Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre, and Elsewhere by Michael Kimmelman

8vo. pp. xviii, 265. b/w illustrations. index. hardcover. dw. (near fine - lower right front corner bumped with some wear to bottom edge of binding). New York: Random House, [1998].

ISBN-10: 0679452192 / ISBN-13:‎ 9780679452195


Cezanne once said, "One can only speak properly about painting in front of paintings." In Portraits, Michael Kimmelman, chief art critic for The New York Times, speaks with eighteen important artists in front of some of the world's best art. His engaging, informal profiles of Balthus, Cindy Sherman, Chuck Close, Wayne Thiebaud, Brice Marden, Kiki Smith, and others record not only what they said about the art they chose to look at in various museums, but also what they revealed about themselves and their work in the process. Lucian Freud goes on a midnight visit to see the Rembrandt's in London's National Gallery (because that's when he likes to go them, and can, so the lights are left on for him). Francis Bacon, famous for his nightmarish pictures, is drawn to the pastoral Constables at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Leon Golub and Nancy Spero show their affinity for the art of ancient Mexico and Egypt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Beautifully illustrated with more than one hundred and thirty photographs, Portraits gives powerful visual accompaniment to lively, fluent prose. So when Henri Cartier-Bresson talks at the Pompidou Center in Paris about his admiration for Matisse, we see not only the Matisse portrait he particularly likes, but also the sketch he did while he and Kimmelman stood in front of it.

"Good artists, of different sorts, can talk straight about art, " Michael Kimmelman writes. As Elizabeth Murray puts it, "You look at this Courbet and you can relate to it even though his world is so distant from ours. What this Courbet or that Cezanne does is invite you into their worlds, and when you pop out again you've got something in your life you didn't have before." As these artists describe what is relevant to the present in the past, they restore a sense of immediacy to art. Portraits will make you look at art with fresh eyes.