The Lure and the Truth of Painting: Selected Essays on Art

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University of Chicago Press, 1995 - Art - 228 pages
Yves Bonnefoy, France's most important living poet, is also a literary and art critic of renown; in writing so extensively on the visual arts, he continues the critical tradition begun in the eighteenth century by Diderot and continued in succeeding centuries by Baudelaire, Apollinaire, and other leading French poets.

The sixteen essays collected here show the breadth and depth of Bonnefoy's writings on art, aesthetics, and poetics. His lyrical ruminations range across centuries and cultures, from Byzantium to postwar France, from the paintings of Piero della Francesca to the sculptures of Alberto Giacometti and the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, from the Italian Giorgio Morandi to the American Edward Hopper. Always fascinated in his poetry by the nature of color and light and the power of the image, Bonnefoy continues to pursue these themes in his discussion of the lure and truth of representation. He sees the painter as a poet whose language is a visual one, and seeks to find out what visual artists can teach those who work with words. More philosophical than historical and more poetic than critical, the essays express Bonnefoy's deep sympathy for the creative process and his great passion for individual works of art.

Bonnefoy's engagement with great art in The Lure and the Truth of Painting sheds light on the philosophy of presence and being that animates his poems. This book will be welcomed by lovers of Bonnefoy's poems and by everyone interested in the creation, history, and appreciation of art.

Yves Bonnefoy's numerous books include New and Selected Poems and In the Shadow's Light, both published by the University of Chicago Press. Richard Stamelman is director of the Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and professor of romance languages at Williams College. He is the author of Lost beyond Telling: Representations of Death and Absence in Modern French Poetry.

"Few exponents of contemporary French letters deserve the attention of the reading public in America more than Yves Bonnefoy. . . . [His] writings . . . are an important lighthouse on the contemporary cultural coastline."—Emily Grosholz, The Hudson Review
 

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Contents

ONE CLASSICAL
8
TWO MODERN
93
Notes on Mondrian
99
The Decisions of Balthus
127
THREE CONTEMPORARY
163
Henri CartierBresson
175
Afterword Richard Stamelman 187
206
Index
217
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

Yves Bonnefoy was born in in Tours, France on June 24, 1923. He studied mathematics at the University of Poitiers and philosophy at the Sorbonne, where he completed a thesis on Søren Kierkegaard and Charles Baudelaire. Bonnefoy worked at the National Center for Scientific Research, where he wrote on the New Criticism and the philosophy of literary criticism in the English language. In 1953, he wrote a long poetic sequence entitled On the Motion and Immobility of Douve. His collections of poetry include Yesterday's Wilderness Kingdom, Words in Stone, The Lure of the Threshold, In the Shadow's Light, Beginning and End of the Snow, The Wandering Life, The Curved Planks, and The Long Chain of the Anchor. He received the grand prize for poetry from the French Academy in 1981 and the Goncourt Prize for Poetry in 1987. In 1972, he published a philosophical memoir, L'Arrière-Pays (Heartland), about his summer visits to his maternal grandparents. As a translator, Bonnefoy was well known for his renderings of Shakespeare into French including Hamlet, Julius Caesar, A Winter's Tale, and Henry IV, Part I. During his lifetime, he translated 15 of the plays, all of the sonnets, and wrote extensively on Shakespeare's poetics. His translations of Yeats are equally well known in France. He died on July 1, 2016 at the age of 93.

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