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The Vexations of Art: Velazquez and Others [Paperback]

Svetlana Alpers

Price: 18.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

23 Oct 2007
Velazquez is often considered an artist apart: great, but isolated in Spain. This highly original book sets him in conjunction with certain conditions of painting in his time and after. From the seventeenth century to the twentieth, roughly from Rembrandt and Vermeer to Matisse and Picasso, a succession of European paintors has taken the studio as the world; that is, the studio is where the world, as it gets into painting, is experienced. Svetlana Alpers first focuses on this retreat into the confines of the studio, then looks at the ways in which the paintings of the Dutch masters and Velazquez acknowledge war and rivalry while offering a way out. The final chapters give a new account of Velazquez's "The Spinners", a ravishing painting which has been eclipsed by interest in the enigmas of Las Meninas. Alpers concentrates on the seventeenth century but also looks back to Velazquez's predecessors Titian and Rubens and forward to his modern successors. She discusses Velazquez's resemblance to Manet, whose art also vexes or unsettles, giving us reason to pause and look. The book concludes by asking whether painting continues to do that today.

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'This is a wide ranging and needle-sharp book.'
-- Michael Glover, The Independent, November 30, 2007

About the Author

Svetlana Alpers is professor emerita of the history of art, University of California, Berkeley, and visiting scholar in the department of fine arts, New York University.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 17 Aug 2014
By ALFONSO VIDELA CASTRO - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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14 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Non ha'l ciel cotanti lumi" 15 Feb 2007
By Doug - Haydn Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Doktor Alpers is one of the Super Novas of Art History, and as the Monteverdi song title suggests, she luminates far more than most of her starry peers. Starting with Rembrandt, along with Rubens the core of artistic values and sensibility for this stellar intelligence, we are taken through a carefully grounded argument, arriving finally at Velazquez, and "The Spinners". Alpers never falters as she unveils a plethora of critical perspectives, analyzes each in a dizzingly narrative convergence, and leaves mere mortal readers to return to her pages and consider the embarras de richesses she bestows. Alpers is never easy, but neither is she deliberately obscure; her chapter on Rembrandt's painting of Bathsheba is a model of clarity: a privileged sharing of Alper's lifetime of considered wisdom.

Alper's books are events in the best sense of the word; each as brilliant as an illuminated book. Her works inevitably follow one all-pervading rule - "Let there be light!" And what better touchstone for an historian of art?
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