Baudelaire's famous description of "the best criticism" as "entertaining and poetic, not coldly analytic," lives in the essays of Peter Schjeldahl. Schjeldahl self-consciously continues the modern tradition of art criticism crafted by poet-critics, providing a sharp perspective on individual artists, their work, art-world events, and new creative directions. He challenges established views, and his infectious passion for art continually engages the reader. In essays on Rothko, Munch, Warhol, Dubuffet, Nauman, Sherman, Salle, de Kooning, Guston, Ruscha, and Koons, Schjeldahl skillfully juggles theory and analysis in exploring cultural context and technique. His writings, free of the contortions of some critical prose and characterized by a sustained focus on works of art, map the contemporary art scene in New York (with occasional forays to Los Angeles and elsewhere), cataloguing the colorful personalities, cultural attractions, and ethical hazards of the art world. It's a fast, fun trip, with arguments that fold back upon themselves in surprising revelations and reversals of the author's opinion. There is never a dull moment for those with an eye on contemporary art.
The Hydrogen Jukebox Selected Writings of Peter Schjeldahl, 1978-1990
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