James MacNeill Whistler: Uneasy Pieces

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9781593720018: James MacNeill Whistler: Uneasy Pieces
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James McNeill Whistler was one of the most misinterpreted creative talents of his age. While devoted to the expression of the beautiful, he was among the first to recognize that popularized arts and commercialized leisure were complex, interrelated phenomena that made urban life "modern." Whistler's showmanship had far greater impact than countless imitations of his The White Girl and Portrait of the Painter's Mother might suggest. His purposeful use of past art; his intermingling of private and public spaces; his ability to tailor his work to the realities of the Victorian marketplace; his understanding and exploitation of shifting economic, class, and gender roles; and his clever use of fashion and decoration all lead us to a richer understanding of "modernism" and a broader assessment of his contribution to it. Whistler's emphatically aesthetic pictures, made the more inscrutable by purposefully confusing titles, remain uneasy pieces to the present time. Probing some of these tensions, Dr. Curry explores the intersection of Whistler's determined aestheticism with the commercial art world. Key examples of Whistler's paintings, drawings, and prints are set against related images from both fine art and popular culture drawn from the past two hundred years. Approximately 250 color and monotone illustrations.

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In this remarkably wide-ranging and imaginatively illustrated study, Whistler scholar David Park Curry quotes a querulous contemporary critic who complained, "A gallery does not suffice for Mr. Whistler. He needs a stage." Indeed he did, and Curry ably demonstrates the ways in which the painter--who was briefly an actor—seized center stage for himself, and startled the art world with a noisy injection of theatrical ideas. Curry proves that Whistler's drive to abstraction wasn't his only modern aspect: he was an Abominable Showman who shook up installation practice, courted fame via scandal, and knew art for art’s sake could also be, as he said of his epochal 1883 Arrangement in White and Yellow show, a "great Shebang." Curry doesn't just reproduce Whistler's sensitive Venice etchings and Ruskin-enraging paintings, he describes their influences and impact. It's illuminating to see Whistler's Rembrandtesque self-portrait next to his depictions by William Merritt Chase and Max Beerbohm, and Aubrey Beardsley's portrait of him as Pan alongside Mapplethorpe's scarily similar Self-Portrait with Horns. Curry’s eight essays are eye-opening, the 382 illustrations eye-delighting. And the Punch cartoon showing pre-Whistler art patrons zooming around a gallery clad in "Edison’s Anti-Gravitation Under-Clothing" made me laugh out loud. --Tim Appelo

About the Author:

David Park Curry is a distinguished curator and scholar of American art. He is the senior curator of decorative arts, American painting, and sculpture at the Baltimore Museum of Art. In addition, Curry has served as curator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Denver Art Museum, and the Freer Gallery of Art.

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9780917046674: James MacNeill Whistler: Uneasy Pieces

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ISBN 10:  0917046676 ISBN 13:  9780917046674
Publisher: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2005
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Book Description The Quantuck Lane Press, United States, 2004. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. James McNeill Whistler was one of the most misinterpreted creative talents of his age. While devoted to the expression of the beautiful, he was among the first to recognize that popularized arts and commercialized leisure were complex, interrelated phenomena that made urban life modern. Whistler s showmanship had far greater impact than countless imitations of his The White Girl and Portrait of the Painter s Mother might suggest. His purposeful use of past art; his intermingling of private and public spaces; his ability to tailor his work to the realities of the Victorian marketplace; his understanding and exploitation of shifting economic, class, and gender roles; and his clever use of fashion and decoration all lead us to a richer understanding of modernism and a broader assessment of his contribution to it. Whistler s emphatically aesthetic pictures, made the more inscrutable by purposefully confusing titles, remain uneasy pieces to the present time. Probing some of these tensions, Dr. Curry explores the intersection of Whistler s determined aestheticism with the commercial art world. Key examples of Whistler s paintings, drawings, and prints are set against related images from both fine art and popular culture drawn from the past two hundred years. Approximately 250 color and monotone illustrations. Seller Inventory # AAH9781593720018

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Book Description The Quantuck Lane Press, United States, 2004. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. James McNeill Whistler was one of the most misinterpreted creative talents of his age. While devoted to the expression of the beautiful, he was among the first to recognize that popularized arts and commercialized leisure were complex, interrelated phenomena that made urban life modern. Whistler s showmanship had far greater impact than countless imitations of his The White Girl and Portrait of the Painter s Mother might suggest. His purposeful use of past art; his intermingling of private and public spaces; his ability to tailor his work to the realities of the Victorian marketplace; his understanding and exploitation of shifting economic, class, and gender roles; and his clever use of fashion and decoration all lead us to a richer understanding of modernism and a broader assessment of his contribution to it. Whistler s emphatically aesthetic pictures, made the more inscrutable by purposefully confusing titles, remain uneasy pieces to the present time. Probing some of these tensions, Dr. Curry explores the intersection of Whistler s determined aestheticism with the commercial art world. Key examples of Whistler s paintings, drawings, and prints are set against related images from both fine art and popular culture drawn from the past two hundred years. Approximately 250 color and monotone illustrations. Seller Inventory # AAH9781593720018

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