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« Mr. Auden, What do you like the most about New York? | Main | Much Depends on Dinner: Cooking with Lisa Vihos »

December 17, 2009


As someone who writes about art, a lot, I'll say it's very hard and, most of the time, plainly doesn't work. Language can certainly describe a piece of visual art, but the level of specificity, the accumulation of detail, necessary is tedious at best--completely counterproductive at worst. So the way in is through the artist or the viewer, either of which provide something solid for the traditional tools available to writing to grab onto. Places where I've seen this executed well: the most beautiful is in the lyric essay, specifically I'm thinking of some of John D'agata's essays; the most informative and thought-provoking along the same lines as the art itself is in a friend's master's thesis on Andrea Frasier. And I think here I'm saying it's more productive to write about visual art than try, in any way, to reproduce it.

For me, the gold standard for writing about art was set by Edwin Denby, whose dance criticism is always lucid, intelligent, informed by a deep understanding of the art form (having trained as a dancer himself), respectful of the artist, and beautiful. He writes for a smart interested audience and never condescends. Those who write about any kind of art would benefit from reading his essay "The Role of the Critic." Just brilliant.

Fantastic photos, btw. Thanks.

yeah...loving all the images....more, more...

Love the pictures! I'm jealous, I want to be with those camels. Favorite piece of writing about art: does Ashbery's "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror" count?

read Mary Ruefle's "Monument" from The Most of It - i think you'll love it...i've been reading it recently for lyric-writing purposes. love your photos too!

The camels reminded me of Coleridge's "On Donne's Poetry": "With Donne, whose muse on dromedary trots..."

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