cover image Reported Sightings: Art Chronicles 1957-1987

Reported Sightings: Art Chronicles 1957-1987

John Ashbery. Alfred A. Knopf, $35 (417pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57387-8

Ashbery's art reviews for the Paris Herald Tribune , ARTNews , New York and Newsweek go beyond journalism. Generous, astute, never dull and possessed of catholic taste, this poet-critic shows us what is special about a Bonnard or a Grandma Moses. He especially admires artists who have undertaken individualistic, spiritual pilgrimages, like Marsden Hartley, Odilon Redon (``a kind of Cezanne of the unconscious''), Belgian fantasist Leon Spilliaert and undervalued American still-life painter John F. Peto. Nearly 100 reviews and essays are gathered here, amplified by 35 color and black-and-white reproductions. Topics range from Frank Lloyd Wright to Japanese folk art, from Jean Baptiste Simieon Chardin's timeless simplicity to Red Grooms's zany urban caricatures. Ashbery gets past art-world hoopla to reveal the substance, or lack thereof, in works and reputations discussed. (Sept.)