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The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versaby Michael Kimmelman
"The evening after I finished reading The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa I went to the grocery store, and — expecting only my usual Monday night shopping trip — had a transcendent experience instead....Be prepared. This is the kind of thing that will happen to you when you pick up this book by Michael Kimmelman, chief art critic of the New York Times." Marjorie Kehe, Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times bestsellerand#151;a dazzling and inspirational survey of how art can be found and appreciated in everyday life
Michael Kimmelman, the prominent New York Times writer and a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, is known as a deep and graceful writer across the disciplines of art and music and also as a pianist who understands something about the artist's sensibility from the inside. Readers have come to expect him not only to fill in their knowledge about art but also to inspire them to think about connections between art and the larger world - which is to say, to think more like an artist. Kimmelman's many years of contemplating and writing about art have brought him to this wise, wide-ranging, and long-awaited book.
It explores art as life's great passion, revealing what we can learn of life through pictures and sculptures and the people who make them. It assures us that art - points of contact with the exceptional that are linked straight to the heart - can be found almost anywhere and everywhere if only our eyes are opened enough to recognize it. Kimmelman regards art, like all serious human endeavors, as a passage through which a larger view of life may come more clearly into focus. His book is a kind of adventure or journey.
It carries the message that many of us may not yet have learned how to recognize the art in our own lives. To do so is something of an art itself. A few of the characters Kimmelman describes, like Bonnard and Chardin, are great artists. But others are explorers and obscure obsessives, paint-by-numbers enthusiasts, amateur shutterbugs, and collectors of strange odds and ends. Yet others, like Charlotte Solomon, a girl whom no one considered much of an artist but who secretly created a masterpiece about the world before her death in Auschwitz, have reserved spots for themselves in history, or not, with a single work that encapsulates a whole life.
Kimmelman reminds us of the Wunderkammer, the cabinet of wonders - the rage in seventeenth-century Europe and a metaphor for the art of life. Each drawer of the cabinet promises something curious and exotic, instructive and beautiful, the cabinet being a kind of ideal, self-contained universe that makes order out of the chaos of the world. The Accidental Masterpiece is a kind of literary Wunderkammer, filled with lively surprises and philosophical musings. It will inspire readers to imagine their own personal cabinet of wonders.
"The chief art critic of the New York Times, Kimmelman (Portraits) delivers an uplifting art-is-good-for-you message that is surprisingly easy to swallow. Intelligent but not obscure, warm but not intrusively personal, Kimmelman manages in 10 chapters to cover a lot of ground, with a working definition of 'art' that goes far beyond what's found in galleries and museums. The reader encounters not only the likes of Pierre Bonnard and Matthew Barney but Hugh Francis Hicks, a serious collector of lightbulbs, and Frank Hurley, whose miraculously preserved images of the 1914 Antarctic Endurance expedition are as haunting as any 'art.' This is Kimmelman's point: though passionately concerned with 'gallery' art, he is more concerned with the rewards of aesthetic experience, how the attentiveness we bring to art can help to make a 'daily masterpiece' of ordinary life. Kimmelman's enthusiasm is infectious; he has an impressive ability to incorporate recent artistic trends into his argument; the chapter on 'The Art of the Pilgrimage,' for instance, discusses the earth art of Michael Heizer and the minimalism of Donald Judd with a clarity that doesn't shortchange the work's difficulty. If Proust can change your life, so can Bonnard. (Aug.) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The chief art critic of the "New York Times" delivers an uplifting art-is-good-for-you message that goes far beyond what's found in galleries and museums.
About the Author
Michael Kimmelman is the most acute American art critic of his generation...(Robert Hughes)
Table of Contents
The Accidental Masterpiece Introduction
The Art of Making a World
The Art of Being Artless
The Art of Having a Lofty Perspective
The Art of Making Art Without Lifting a Finger
The Art of Collecting Lightbulbs
The Art of Maximizing Your Time
The Art of Finding Yourself When You're Lost
The Art of Staring Productively at Naked Bodies
The Art of the Pilgrimage
The Art of Gum-Ball Machines, and Other Simple Pleasures
What Our Readers Are Saying
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