Sister Wendy's American Collection

Beckett, Wendy; Toby Eady, Associates

Published by HarperCol, 2000
ISBN 10: 0060195568 / ISBN 13: 9780060195564
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Sister Wendy Beckett has been dubbed a "pop star" by the New York Times and "a phenomenon" by the Washington Post. She is certainly one of the world's best-known and best-loved art critics, familiar to millions from her wildly popular art series on PBS.

In Sister Wendy's American Collection, she visits six of America's most prestigious museums: the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, Massachusetts), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, Texas), and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In each, Sister Wendy chooses a wide variety of artpaintings, sculpture, porcelain figures-and draws attention to the small details of the work, revealing hidden meanings and symbolism. She relates the background of the artist and explains the techniques and the histories behind each work in a straightforward language that speaks to all with humor and insight.

More than 250 full-color illustrations illuminate Sister Wendy's text. Sister Wendy's American Collection is a wonderful tour of six great American museums -- it is also the equivalent of taking a personal tour with Sister Wendy, studying and enjoying her favorite pieces of art, chosen from across the whole breadth of history to the present. It is a fascinating journey, one that can be taken again and again. Sister Wendy's American Collection is soon to be a PBS miniseries.

Review: Sister Wendy's catholic view of art is as rare as her insightful view of Western religious painting. The work she admires is startlingly diverse, embracing Paul Revere's silver and a bodhisattva from Pakistan, an Issey Miyake metallic polyester dress and a Mayan vase, not to mention paintings by artists as remote in style and vision as John Singer Sargent and Joan Mitchell. Sister Wendy's American Collection is a highly selective tour through six major U.S. museums: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art in Ohio, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. To frequent museumgoers, her choices initially can seem charmingly arbitrary--until they begin to inspire the urge to check out those galleries again.

With a page or two allotted to each art work (short essays in large type and 250-odd modestly sized illustrations), this is a friendly book to curl up with, as unpretentious as Sister Wendy herself. Anyone looking for detailed art historical information will be disappointed by her tendency to coast on a thimbleful of facts, yet her gift for plainspoken rapture about art remains intact on the page.

When she singles out from the Met's vast collections an Ottoman sultan's elegant logo with its "small paradise" of painted flowers, when she peers at the tense body of the young cheat in Caravaggio's The Cardsharps at the Kimbell, or ambles along the length of a Sung dynasty landscape painting at the Cleveland museum, that's when Sister Wendy proves the value of close, patient looking as a contemplative act. --Cathy Curtis

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Title: Sister Wendy's American Collection
Publisher: HarperCol
Publication Date: 2000
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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Wendy Beckett, Associates Toby Eady
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