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Pictures & Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintingsby James Elkins
Synopses & Reviews
Pictures and Tears is a strange and wonderful investigation into paintings and the emotions they evoke.
In past centuries, viewers were often moved by paintings. Fourth-century Greek painting depicted people in states of extreme grief, so that the viewer might respond in kind. Crying in front of paintings was commonplace in the Middle Ages. There were more tears in the eighteenth century, and then again in the age of Romanticism. Why have the last hundred years been so dry by comparison?
James Elkins writes about his encounter with Bellini's Ecstasy of St. Francis in the Frick Collection, the effect of the Rothko Chapel on visitors, our responses to Caravaggio, Greuze, Friedrich, Bouts, David, Ingres, Regnault, a Kamakura period landscape, and Van Gogh. Hundreds of correspondents shared with him their experiences of crying in front of paintings, fleshing out what becomes a history of emotion and vulnerability, and an inquiry into the nature of art.
This is a book for people who have wondered at the power of painting and been moved by it, perhaps even to tears. Also includes an 8-page color insert.
Art Does art leave you cold? And is that what it's supposed to do? Or is a painting meant to move you to tears? Hemingway was reduced to tears in the midst of a drinking bout when a painting by James Thurber caught his eye. And what's bad about that? In Pictures and Tears, art historian James Elkins tells the story of paintings that have made people cry. Drawing upon anecdotes related to individual works of art, he provides a chronicle of how people have shown emotion before works of art in the past, and a meditation on the curious tearlessness with which most people approach art in the present. Deeply personal, Pictures and Tears is a history of emotion and vulnerability, and an inquiry into the nature of art. This book is a rare and invaluable treasure for people who love art. Also includes an 8-page color insert.
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