Antoine Watteau, one of the most mysterious painters who ever lived, is the inspiration for this delightful investigation of the tangled relationship between art and life. Weaving together historical fact and personal reflections, the influential art critic Jed Perl reconstructs the amazing story of this pioneering bohemian artist who, although he died in 1721, when he was only thirty-six, has influenced innumerable painters and writers in the centuries since—and whose work continues to deepen our understanding of the place that love, friendship, and pleasure have in our daily lives.
Perl creates an astonishing experience by gathering his reflections on this “master of silken surfaces and elusive emotions” in the form of an alphabet—a fairy tale for adults—giving us a new way to think about art. This brilliant collage of a book is a hunt for the treasure of Watteau’s life and vision that encompasses the glamour and intrigue of eighteenth-century Paris, the riotous history of Harlequin and Pierrot, and the work of such modern giants as CÉzanne, Picasso, and Samuel Beckett.
By turns somber and beguiling, analytical and impressionistic, Antoine’s Alphabet reaffirms the contemporary relevance of the greatest of all painters of young love and imperishable dreams. It is a book to savor, to share, to return to again and again.
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|Title of eBook: Antoine's Alphabet|
|Release Date: 09-09-2008|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
This eBook download is available in the following formats:
|Parent title||Antoine's Alphabet|
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Actors. For Watteau, life is a casting call, an audition, a rehearsal, a coaching session, an intermission, an opening-night party, a day spent in idleness after the play has shut down. Although Watteau’s paintings are saturated with the life of the theater—with figures in theatrical costumes, with theatrical gestures, with richly decorated porticoes and loggias that suggest the contained world of the stage—the more I look at his paintings, the more forcibly it’s brought to mind how few of his characters are actually onstage. The strictly delimited world of the stage is too readily comprehensible to really interest Watteau. An actor on a stage is a personality, a figure, and Watteau is fascinated, above all else, by the impossibility of ever being sure of who you are, at least for more than a very brief time. He is a master of in-between situations, less interested in life as a stage than in the preparations for going onstage, or how actors feel after they’ve made their exits. It’s not the performer in performance so much as the mentality of the performer that fascinates him. He’s obsessed with maskings and unmaskings, with grand gestures and whispered asides, with the moment of disarming honesty that is set in sharp contrast to the actor’s generally armored personality. And he views such behavior—the histrionics and the feints, the approaches and the withdrawals—not as characteristic of actors in particular but as typical of men and women in general.
Antony. At the time of his death in 1721 at the age of thirty-six, Watteau was a famous figure in Paris, with his share of devoted friends. The nuggets of reliabl