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Romanticism and realism : the mythology of nineteenth-century art

by Charles Rosen

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The BEST book of art criticism I've ever read, which puts it at the head of a small group, admittedly. Since I would read anything at all the late and magnificent Charles Rosen wrote or collaborated on, this relatively old work, from 1984, was a necessity, but since it was co-authored, by Henri Zerner, and fashioned from a series of articles and reviews of art shows and their catalogues, I wasn't expecting the usual Rosen perfection.

But the articles were so completely rewritten and augmented that the origin of the book is invisible, and the ideas are new, shocking, and reveal ways of thinking about painting that yield maximum pleasure and new awareness and understanding. Page after page presents fascinating information and insights, all delivered in the usual intelligent, elegant, and charmingly modest Rosen way.

And in the views on what various painters have considered "realism" or Realism are many ideas that seem equally applicable to writing; indeed, Flaubert and other writers are frequently referred to. Thus the reader's mind is constantly challenged: I read very slowly, rereading many paragraphs or skimming over sections again, constantly delighted with the display of innovative thinking, about painting, about writing, and about the people who create them and their societies. ( )
1 vote V.V.Harding | Apr 21, 2015 |
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