cover image The Impressionists: A Retrospective

The Impressionists: A Retrospective

. Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, $75 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-88363-791-3

To critic Kenneth Clark, French impressionist painting was essentially paganism with a touch of magic. For Meyer Schapiro, the impressionists were prophets groping to reestablish the pervasive human sociability that capitalism had destroyed. How Zola, Baudelaire, Mallarme, Van Gogh, Kandinsky and modern critics have viewed the impressionists and how these renegade painters saw themselves is the subject of this stunning volume, which opens one's eyes anew to impressionism's fresh glimpse of the world. This documentary chronicle splices color plates with letters, journal entries, reviews and essays by or about the artists. The juxtapositions are often fruitful: for example, surrealist poet Andre Masson's critique of Monet (``the limpid eye,the Raphael of the waters'') alongside Water-Lilies at Twilight. A light, feathery Berthe Morisot watercolor and Degas' powerful David and Goliath hold up well in the company of more familiar masterpieces. Kapos teaches at London's Chelsea School of Art. (Nov.)