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Rendez-vous with Art by Philippe De…
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Rendez-vous with Art

by Philippe De Montebello

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it was interesting to visit museums with a museum boss. i prefer reading about art with pictures because like them i get tired. i remember better what i read(maybe). i find it very tiring to look at arvheological art but it's my favourite thing to read about. ( )
  mahallett | Aug 14, 2017 |
I liked this book; I found it companionable where I had expected it to be snobby - and I especially like that the rooms through which Philippe de Montebello and Martin Gayford wander as they talk about art are exactly the rooms with which many of us, not necessarily great connoisseurs, are familiar. I like that they tire; I like that they find it impossible to see through the throngs of people massing round the highlights; I like particularly that they seem to spend so much time at lunch. In that sense their experience of museum visiting reminds me of my own.
While some of Martin Gayford's questions strike me as a little bit elitist, I am almost always impressed (and sometimes delighted) by Philippe de Montebello's answers: I like that he describes exactly the thrill which any of us feels at the first view of one of the very greatest works of art; I like that he is frequently ready to stop and give special attention to less well-known pieces not least when - just like you or me - he is unable to get anywhere near the real crowd-pullers; or when he has simply run out of energy on his way to them.
This is a really intelligent book about developing a slightly more attentive eye; about taking art slowly, and not trying to see too much at any one time; about listening to one's own responses and nurturing them better; and about learning to cherish beauty wherever we happen to find it.
Both Philippe de Montebello and Martin Gayford have what might be called a rather traditional view of the 'canon' of 'Great Art', although Philippe de Montebello, especially, is as attentive to the intellectual and affective impact of a piece of African art which once he would have overlooked as he is to that of the exquisite Duccio Madonna for which he paid $45 million, and over which he delightedly drools. He writes with lovely humanity about frescoes at Santa Croce in Florence; about Velazquez in the Prado; Fragonard in the Wallace Collection; Assyrian lions in the British Museum - reminding me, at least, of what it feels like to wander the same spaces seeing the same things, but now primed to do so again with just a bit more attentiveness and care. He is magnificently frank about his blind-spots (which include a lot of the most exalted Dutch painting): I, in turn, am heartened to feel less shame about the lapses in my own taste too.
This book is a commentary on museum visiting by which I think any thoughtful person ought to be encouraged and occasionally even inspired; and it is extremely elegantly illustrated. ( )
  readawayjay | Dec 14, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 050023924X, Hardcover)

The fruits of a lifetime of experience by a cultural colossus, Philippe de Montebello, the longest-serving director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in its history, distilled in conversations with an acclaimed critic

Beginning with a fragment of yellow jasper—all that is left of the face of an Egyptian woman who lived 3,500 years ago—this book confronts the elusive questions: how, and why, do we look at art?

Philippe de Montebello and Martin Gayford talked in art galleries or churches or their own homes, and this book is structured around their journeys. But whether they were in the Louvre or the Prado, the Mauritshuis of the Palazzo Pitti, they reveal the pleasures of truly looking.

De Montebello shares the sense of excitement recorded by Goethe in his autobiography—"akin to the emotion experienced on entering a House of God"—but also reflects on why these secular temples might nevertheless be the "worst possible places to look at art." But in the end both men convey, with subtlety and brilliance, the delights and significance of their subject matter and some of the intense creations of human beings throughout our long history. 75 illustrations

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:43 -0400)

The fruits of a lifetime of experience by a cultural colossus, Phillippe de Montebello, the longest-serving director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in its history, distilled in conversations with an acclaimed critic. Beginning with a fragment of yellow jasper - all that is left of the face of an Egyptian woman who lived 3,500 years ago - this book confronts the elusive questions: how, and why, do we look at art? Philippe de Montebello and Martin Gayford talked in art galleries or churches or their own homes, and this book is structured around their journeys. But whether they were in the Louvre or the Prado, the Mauritshuis of the Palazzo Pitti, they reveal the pleasures of truly looking. De Montebello shares the sense of excitement recorded by Goethe in his autobiography - "akin to the emotion experienced on entering a House of God" - but also reflects on why these secular temples might nevertheless be the "worst possible places to look at art." But in the end both men convey, with subtlety and brilliance, the delights and significance of their subject matter and some of the intense creations of human beings throughout our long history.… (more)

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