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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sumptuous, 28 Jan. 2009
This review is from: The Art of Bloomsbury: Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell, and Duncan Grant (Paperback)
Published to accompany the exhibition at The Tate Gallery, London and various US galleries, 1999-2000.

Three essays follow the foreword: "The Artists of Bloomsbury: Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant" by Richard Shone; "Image and Theme in Bloomsbury Art" by Richard Morphet; and "Defining Modernism: Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell in the 1920s" by James Beechey. In his essay Richard Shone, Associate Editor of The Burlington Magazine and author of several Art books, challenges previously held views and assumptions regarding the Bloomsbury Group, and reminds us that the tag `Bloomsbury' was not a name they themselves used, nor did they think of themselves as special group as such. He also considers the influence Duncan Grant in particular exerted. Similarly Richard Morphet directly confronts commonly held views and frequent criticisms of the Bloomsbury painters and also considers the aims of the group. James Beechey discusses the roll, positive of otherwise, Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry played in the art world on the 1920s.

Each of the essays makes for most interesting reading, not only for the discussions of the work of the artists, but also for the accounts of the unconventional life stories of the members of the group as a whole. Even by today's standards their close-knit private lives might raise a few eyebrows.

The main part of the book contains the catalogue of the works in the exhibition. Each work is illustrated in colour, and each is accompanied by a sometimes lengthy commentary. These commentaries themselves make fascinating reading containing as they often do, in addition to a critical appraisal of the work in question, yet more details further embellishing the colourful lives of the artists. In addition to Fry, Bell and Grant, the catalogue includes a few examples of the work of several other of the painters associated with the Bloomsbury Group: Walter Sickert, Max Beerbohm and Henry Lamb among others, and also the work of the Omega Workshops.

The book is superbly illustrated; in addition to the 200 colour plates are a further 70 monochromes, the latter including preliminary sketches, woodcuts and period photographs. Many of the colour plates are full or half page size. The book includes an illustrated chronology for each of the three main artists. The book includes a bibliography and an index.

The Art of Bloomsbury is a sumptuous volume; for me the work of Duncan Grant stands out particularly, it is interesting to see his work change over the years. It is clear too to see the influence of earlier artists in his work, as well as detect where his work either influenced of predicted the work of subsequent artists.

11.75" x 9.25" (29.2 cm x 23.6 cm) 296 pages. ISBN 0691095140 Paperback. ISBN 0691049939. First published 1999, reprinted 2002.
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Review Details

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Reviewer

Benjamin
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Location: UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 433