John Singer Sargent

Patricia Hills, Author ABRAMS $49.5 (295p) ISBN 978-0-8109-1506-0
Although Sargent was not a modernist, the large touring exhibition catalogued here emphasizes that his sheer detachment from his subjects, dazzling surface effects and cosmopolitan themes influenced later generations of artists. Born in Florence to nomadic American parents who were ever in search of a better health spa, he in his turn landed in Paris, then London. An exile among exiles, he was temperamentally suited for a role he dislikedportrait artist. This sumptuously illustrated collection includes essays that are as psychologically subtle as Sargent's own portraits. They explore his ""dab-and-spot'' experiments with impressionism, his surprisingly dark vision of Venice, his seldom-seen pencil and charcoal drawings and virtuoso watercolors. One piece, ``Portrait of the Artist As Dorian Gray,'' argues that Sargent shared with Oscar Wilde and Henry James the belief in art as an activity for asserting one's personality and gaining mastery over experience. (October)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1986
Release date: 10/01/1986
Genre: Nonfiction
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