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Nothing If Not Critical: Selected Essays on Art and Artists Paperback – 8 Mar 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (8 Mar. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860468594
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860468599
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 158,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Hughes was born in Australia in 1938 and has lived in Europe and the United States since 1964. Since 1970 he has worked in New York as an art critic for Time Magazine. He has twice received the Franklin Jeweer Mather Award for Distinguished Criticism from the College Art Association of America.

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From the Back Cover

A timeline of artistic endeavour from the formal resources of the past to the boom-and-bust media hype of a postmodern age.

In these celebrated essays Robert Hughes explores the lives and works of more than 80 artists, from Hans Holbein to Andy Warhol and beyond, assessing their achievements (or lack of them) and how they altered the history of art for better or for worse. Castigating the excesses of the 1980s New York art scene, with its manufactured celebrity and inflated prices, he argues for the real values of art and outlines the way ahead for a new generation of artists.


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That Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) was one of the supreme portrait painters has never been in doubt. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. Morgan on 12 May 2013
Format: Paperback
Hughes manages to show how popular art criticism can and should be done. Eschewing jargon, he ranges from Old Masters to contemporaries, most of the latter he has no time for and skewers whenever he can - they are, after all, a juicy target. He writes beautifully; just look at the description of Goya's '2nd of May' cavalryman's sabre or the look of Van Gogh's Provence. This is someone with a novelist's gifts and in service of one who is serious but never pompous. I always find this book a delight, and whether I happen upon a piece on, say, Reynolds ('Sir Sploshua' as a contemporary called him) or the British portraitists, Hughes finds much undervalued, he always has fascinating, often provocative things to say. He is quite prepared to call trash, trash; he is equally unashamed to laud the unfashionable, like Singer-Sargeant or the PreRaphaelites. Every page has something to relish; there are few in any field of whom one may say that. This man values skill and has it in abundance in his criticism. And bravo for calling out the art market rather presciently.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R de Bulat TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is not that there are no critics, today, who have the eye and discernment such as Robert Hughes had in his lifetime, but that so little is heard from them. In a way, Hughes had little time for the business of art - certainly not for the way it was going - and consistently warned of the consequences of giving in to the art of celebrity that is ignorant of core skills or the inherent difficulty in making good art. He had a good feel for depth in works of art and scorn for anything shallow and no-one was wholly immune; late Picasso's a case in point. This volume represents a hearty read, entertaining at times and always informative; even convincing, where his objectivity and sympathy can make you look again at works you might otherwise be prejudiced against - in my case the works of Morandi whose art I will definitely look at afresh. Many of the emerging artists of the eighties do not come out well and here is where Hughes departs, in large part, from the critical mainstream, but the rest is History and Hughes is no longer around to counterbalance the weight of uncritical support for "High art Light" and the power of the auction rooms
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By PH on 22 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The big problem with 'Nothing If Not Critical' is that it highlights the paucity of intelligent art criticism currently available. This book is an absolute delight and one that should be carried around to lift the spirits and to return one's personal focus of attention onto the artworks and not the monetary value of artworks.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By N. Smith on 20 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a world of vacuous, inane, asinine opinions that are the ephemera of our modern digital existence, this book is a Joy. It's a book for deep thinkers. Robert wasn't afraid to expose the king's new clothes as fraudulent, to tell it how it is. He was the best art critic of the 20th/21st century in my humble opinion. Don't buy this book if you are a semi-literate cretin, you won't understand it nor like it. If you are sick of the malaise of contemporary art then it is a feast.
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