Nothing If Not Critical: Essays on Art and Artists

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Feb 22, 2012 - Art - 400 pages
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From Holbein to Hockney, from Norman Rockwell to Pablo Picasso, from sixteenth-century Rome to 1980s SoHo, Robert Hughes looks with love, loathing, warmth, wit and authority at a wide range of art and artists, good, bad, past and present.
   As art critic for Time magazine, internationally acclaimed for his study of modern art, The Shock of the New, he is perhaps America’s most widely read and admired writer on art.  In this book:  nearly a hundred of his finest essays on the subject.
   For the realism of Thomas Eakins to the Soviet satirists Komar and Melamid, from Watteau to Willem de Kooning to Susan Rothenberg, here is Hughes—astute, vivid and uninhibited—on dozens of famous and not-so-famous artists.  He observes that Caravaggio was “one of the hinges of art history; there was art before him and art after him, and they were not the same”; he remarks that Julian Schnabel’s “work is to painting what Stallone’s is to acting”; he calls John Constable’s Wivenhoe Park “almost the last word on Eden-as-Property”; he notes how “distorted traces of [Jackson] Pollock lie like genes in art-world careers that, one might have thought, had nothing to do with his.”  He knows how Norman Rockwell made a chicken stand still long enough to be painted, and what Degas said about success (some kinds are indistinguishable from panic).
   Phrasemaker par excellence, Hughes is at the same time an incisive and profound critic, not only of particular artists, but also of the social context in which art exists and is traded.  His fresh perceptions of such figures as Andy Warhol and the French writer Jean Baudrillard are matched in brilliance by his pungent discussions of the art market—its inflated prices and reputations, its damage to the public domain of culture.  There is a superb essay on Bernard Berenson, and another on the strange, tangled case of the Mark Rothko estate.  And as a finale, Hughes gives us “The SoHoiad,” the mock-epic satire that so amused and annoyed the art world in the mid-1980s.
   A meteor of a book that enlightens, startles, stimulates and entertains.
 

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User Review  - philipjohn - LibraryThing

Robert Hughes must be one of the finest users of language at work in the field of art criticism. His comments, whether you agree with them or not, are always a joy to read. Read full review

Nothing if not critical: selected essays on art and artists

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This collection brings together over 90 essays, many of which have already appeared in major journals. Hughes considers the Masters, 19th-century art and artists, the Modernist spirit, American and ... Read full review

Contents

The Decline ofthe City of Mahagonny
Hans Holbein
Caravaggio
France in the Golden Age
Anthony Van Dyck
George Stubbs
Sir Joshua Reynolds
Goya
David Smith Sculptures
David Smith Drawings
Lee Krasner
Milton Avery
Jackson Pollock
Arshile Gorky
Joseph Cornell
Edward Hopper

Zurbarán
Nicolas Poussin
Guido Reni
Inigo Jones
JeanSiméon Chardin
John Constable
Antoine Watteau
German Romanticism
Edgar Degas
Courbet in Brooklyn
John Singer Sargent
Augustus SaintGaudens
Winslow Homer
James Whistler
PreRaphaelites
Camille Pissarro
Thomas Eakins
ToulouseLautrec
Auguste Rodin
Van Gogh and Cloisonnism
Édouard Manet
Henri Rousseau
Vincent van Gogh Part 1
Vincent van Gogh Part 2
Paul Gauguin
René Magritte
Vasily Kandinsky
Giorgio de Chirico
Julio Gonzalez
Max Beckmann
Henri Matisse in Nice
Futurism
English Art in the Twentieth Century
Oskar Kokoschka
Giorgio Morandi
Late Picasso
Thomas Hart Benton
Deco and Fins
Morris Louis
Diego Rivera
Norman Rockwell
Mark Rothko in Babylon
Andy Warhol
Saul Steinberg
James Turrell
R B Kitaj
Roy Lichtenstein
Nam June Paik
Richard Diebenkorn
Komar and Melamid
Howard Hodgkin
Louise Bourgeois
Philip Pearlstein
Robert Motherwell
Sandro Chia
Malcolm Morley
Julian Schnabel
Requiem for a Featherweight
Willem de Kooning
Francis Bacon
Francesco Clemente
James Rosenquist
Alex Katz
Susan Rothenberg
Anselm Kiefer
Elizabeth Murray
David Hockney
Donald Sultan
Leon Kossoff
Eric Fischl
Sean Scully
Christopher Wilmarth
Bernard Berenson
From Bauhaus to Our House
Brideshead Redecorated
America
Art and Money
orThe Masque of Art
A NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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About the author (2012)

ROBERT HUGHES was born in Australia in 1938 and has lived in Europe and the United States since 1964.  Since 1970, he has been art critic for Time magazine.  He has twice won the College Art Association’s F.J. Mather Award for distinguished criticism.  His books include The Art of Australia (1966), Heaven and Hell in Western Art (1969), and a chronicle of the settlement of Australia, The Fatal Shore (1987).  His study of modern art, The Shock of the New (1981), is being reissued in an updated edition simultaneously with the publication of Nothing If Not Critical, Mr. Hughes lives in Manhattan and on Long Island.

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