`Flaubert believed that it was impossible to explain one art form in terms of another, and that great paintings required no words of explanation.
'Flaubert believed that it was impossible to explain one art form in terms of another, and that great paintings required no words of explanation. Braque thought the ideal state would be reached when we said nothing at all in front of a painting. But we are very far from reaching that state. We remain incorrigibly verbal creatures who love to explain things, to form opinions, to argue... It is a rare picture which stuns, or argues, us into silence. And if one does, it is only a short time before we want to explain and understand the very silence into which we have been plunged.'
Julian Barnes began writing about art with a chapter on Gericault's The Raft of the Medusa in his 1989 novel A History of the World in 10 Chapters. Since then he has written a series of remarkable essays, chiefly about French artists, which trace the story of how art made its way from Romanticism to Realism and into Modernism.
Fully illustrated in colour throughout, Keeping an Eye Open contains Barnes' essays on Gericault, Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, Fantin-Latour, Cezanne, Degas, Redon, Bonnard, Vuillard, Vallotton, Braque, Magritte, Oldenburg, Howard Hodgkin and Lucian Freud.
Julian Barnes is the author of twelve novels, including The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. He has also written three books of short stories, four collections of essays and two books of non-fiction, Nothing to be Frightened Of and the Sunday Times number one bestseller Levels of Life. In 2017 he was awarded the Legion d'honneur.
"[A] beautifully produced and judiciously illustrated collection." -- Keith Miller, 4 stars Daily Telegraph "I became entirely mesmerised by Barnes' prose... Keeping an Eye Open is a rich and thoughtful book that should not be rushed. These essays are too full of chiaroscuro, their flashes of illumination too fascinating, their connections too interesting for a cursory reading." -- Roma Tearne Independent "It's a readable, riveting, informed work with sharp, marvelous anecdotes and observations. In this beautifully illustrated book you're in great company. Barnes is a sane and steady guide... Wonderful stuff." -- Niall McMonagle Irish Independent "Extremely rewarding, informative, attentive, thoughtful, entertaining essays." -- David Sexton Evening Standard "This is an erudite, entertaining and highly personal collection of essays from the Booker Prize-winning novelist." -- Sebastian Shakespeare Tatler
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