In his 1956–57 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, the Russian-born American painter Ben Shahn sets down his personal views of the relationship of the artist—painter, writer, composer—to his material, his craft, and his society. He talks of the creation of the work of art, the importance of the community, the problem of communication, and the critical theories governing the artist and his audience.
The book is the clearest, most forceful statement on art by an artist of our time that I have read.
To find a lucid painter speaking lucidly of art is a thrilling discovery… [He traces] the formation of painting from idea to completion, both generally and specifically with a clarity of thought and a precise use of language which should be a very archetypal model for all critics and painters alike.
A remarkably interesting book, which puts the reader in rewarding contact with a questing mind and a humane spirit.
[Shahn] sets forth his views on both the practice and the purposes of art with a clarity, cogency, and incisiveness that any professional writer might envy, and he manages to interweave with this a good deal of interesting material about his own development as an artist, as well as a running summary of his opinions on contemporary painting in general…the book is highly controversial…also highly stimulating.
Points made in the collection are pertinent, lucid and most readable. A valuable addition to the appraisal of the condition of the arts.
- 144 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches
- Harvard University Press
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