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February 15, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Arts Criticism
At its best, art criticism is a creative and revelatory practice. Each of the eloquent and insightful writers below takes a fresh and provocative approach to interpretation, deepening our understanding of the making and experiencing of art, which is, after all, what lasts as civilizations rise and fall.
Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium. Ed. By Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester. 2004. Univ. Press of Mississippi, $50 (1-57806-686-7); paper, $22 (1-57806-687-5).
Such luminaries as Dorothy Parker, Irving Howe, Marshall McLuhan, and Umberto Eco critically assess what has often been considered a minor art form, comic strips, in this unique retrospective collection of 27 smart and lively essays.
Churchwell, Sarah. The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe. 2005. Holt/Metropolitan, $26 (0-8050-7818-5).
In a bold analysis of the obsessive public discourse devoted to Marilyn Monroe, Churchwell reveals the underlying misogyny, moralizing, speculation, eroticism, resentment, and fear, thus tracing the thin line between adoration and contempt.
Danto, Arthur. Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the Gap between Art and Life. 2005. Farrar, $27 (0-374-28118-1).
Danto, art critic for the Nation, masterfully combines philosophy with aesthetics as he discusses art’s infiltration into life, artists’ conflicts over beauty, and art after 9/11.
Dyer, Geoff. The Ongoing Moment. 2005. Pantheon, $28.50 (0-375-42215-3).
A practitioner of “imaginative criticism,” Dyer offers scintillating responses to photographs by such varied photographers as Alfred Stieglitz, Walker Evans, and Roy DeCarava, winnowing his way to a new take on photography’s profound power.
Kimmelman, Michael. The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa. 2005. Penguin/The Penguin Press, $24.95 (1-59420-055-6).
New York Times art critic Kimmelman writes about how a life lived artistically can itself be considered a masterpiece, and such “accidental” forms of art as the snapshot.
Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture. Ed. by Takashi Murakami. 2005. Yale, $60 (0-300-10285-2).
Renowned Japanese artist Murakami explicates the profound influence of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the more upbeat impact of manga and anime, on postwar Japanese art.
Perl, Jed. New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century. 2005. Knopf, $35 (1-4000-4131-7).
Perl, art critic for the New Republic, vividly tells the story of art in New York City during the “change-everything years between the late 1940s and the early 1960s,” rescuing many forgotten artists along the way.
Terkel, Studs. And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disk Jockey. 2005. New Press, $25.95 (1-59558-003-4).
Terkel, a champion of human rights and the arts, transforms conversation into criticism in his zestful exchanges about music with the likes of Marian Anderson, Aaron Copland, Pete Seeger, and Janis Joplin.
Thomson, David. The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood. 2004. Knopf, $27.95 (0-375-40016-8).
Thomson, whose film criticism is rooted in thoughtful research and scholarly reflection, presents a “history of Hollywood” that is actually a penetrating meditation on the myriad ways the movie industry has influenced America, and vice versa.
Updike, John. Still Looking: Essays on American Art. 2005. Knopf, $40 (1-4000-4418-9).
Updike’s art criticism is enriched by his novelist’s gift for psychological insight, rendering his discussions of such American painters as Martin Johnson Heade, John Sloan, and Edward Hopper unusually radiant and moving.
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