Antoine Watteau, one of the most mysterious painters who ever lived, is the inspiration for this delightful investigation of the tangled relationship between art and life. Weaving together historical fact and personal reflections, the influential art critic Jed Perl reconstructs the amazing story of this pioneering bohemian artist who, although he died in 1721, when he was only thirty-six, has influenced innumerable painters and writers in the centuries since—and whose work continues to deepen our understanding of the place that love, friendship, and pleasure have in our daily lives.
Perl creates an astonishing experience by gathering his reflections on this “master of silken surfaces and elusive emotions” in the form of an alphabet—a fairy tale for adults—giving us a new way to think about art. This brilliant collage of a book is a hunt for the treasure of Watteau’s life and vision that encompasses the glamour and intrigue of eighteenth-century Paris, the riotous history of Harlequin and Pierrot, and the work of such modern giants as CÚzanne, Picasso, and Samuel Beckett.
By turns somber and beguiling, analytical and impressionistic, Antoine’s Alphabet reaffirms the contemporary relevance of the greatest of all painters of young love and imperishable dreams. It is a book to savor, to share, to return to again and again.
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actors afternoon arabesque Aragon Arletty artist Balzac Barrault battle of Malplaquet beauty Beckett become canvas capriccio century CÚzanne CÚzanne’s charm classical clown Cocteau color commedia dell’arte conﬂict costume Cythera dance dancer death deﬁne Diaghilev drawing by Watteau dressed E. E. Cummings elegant face fantasy fascination feeling ﬁgure ﬁnally ﬁnd ﬁnished ﬁrst ﬂow Francis Scarfe Gallery garden gathered Gersaint Gilles Giorgione Harlequin and Pierrot harlequinade idea images imagination Isle jean Cocteau jullienne landscape laubert least living look Louis Louis Aragon lovers Marie-Marguerite mask Massine movie Nijinsky nineteenth-century once painter Paris Parisian pastoral Pater Paul CÚzanne perhaps Picasso play print after Watteau Pulcinella reﬂected Renaissance rococo romantic sense sort spirit story strange studies suggest surely Sylvie T/ze teau teau’s theater theatrical themes things thinking Thomas MacGreevy tion trees turn Valenciennes vignette Watteau’s art Watteau’s paintings woman women young youth