Conversations with a Clown

Michael Welzenbach, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $19.95 (210p) ISBN 978-0-87113-395-3
A magical, entrancing fable about art's redemptive powers, this debut novel has as its central character Pierrot, the commedia dell'arte harlequin later painted by artists from Watteau to Picasso. Now a ``weird old guy'' living in New York City's East Village under the name Gilles Pedrolino, the arch clown befriends jaded art critic Corey Peters, the story's narrator, and reminds him what great art is all about. Pierrot reminisces on the good old times with his paramour/muse Colombina, and his pals Modigliani, Goya, Mary Cassatt and ``his highness Picasso.'' Through time-travel, Peters and the pale mime visit the Japanese renegade artist Hokusai. As a jeremiad on a contemporary art world beholden to corporate-molded tastes and trendy fashions, the parable is tedious and predictable, even if on-target. As a meditation on art's truth and purpose, it soars. Welzenbach, an art critic, offers eloquent statements about the eternal feminine, the impulse to make art, government censorship and much else. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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