Wednesday, September 17, 2014

RENDEZ-VOUS WITH ART by Phillipe de Montebello and Martin Gayford

Surely one of the most rewarding, enriching, delightful books I’ve read in many a moon Rendezv-vous with Art is an art aficionado’s must read and reread.  After all where else may one find Philippe de Montebello (the longest serving director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in its history) and Martin Gayford (an esteemed London art critic) discussing some of the world’s most magnificent art as together they visit museums in six countries?

This book is not a history of art or a work of art criticism but rather in their own words it is an attempt to express “the actual experience of looking at art, what it feels like on a particular occasion...”  And as one reads their personal responses one’s senses are heightened, there is an added awareness of what we might look for in a painting.

Admittedly I was biased beginning with Chapter 1 “An Afternoon In Florence.”  That is my most favorite city and the basilica of Santa Croce is a beloved place for me.  Yet although I have visited several times seeing it through the eyes of the authors I realized all I’d missed.  So, in effect, with this wonderful book one revisits the Prado, the Louvre, the Met, the British Museum and more.  What a journey that is!

In addition to commentary re paintings, frescoes, sculptures and artifacts the authors address several challenges facing museums today.  For instance, if one must wait in a line several blocks long to enter a museum how will that affect our perception of what we see?

The illustrations throughout are, of course, lovely.  My copy of Rendez-vous with Art is now tabbed, underlined and full of crimped page corners as it has so much to offer.  It is a book I’ll return to again and again with great pleasure.  Thank you Messrs de Montebello and Gayford.

- Gail Cooke

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