The Spectacle of Skill: New and Selected Writings of Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes. Knopf, $35 (688p) ISBN 978-1-400-04445-0
The staggering erudition of Time art critic Hughes (1938–2012) is on full and glorious display in this impressive collection. Excerpts from his two best-loved books—The Fatal Shore, about his native Australia’s history, and The Shock of the New, about modern art—are included, along with portions of his books on Goya, Rome, and Barcelona; essays on American modernists; and autobiographical material that includes previously unpublished essays. A sublime pleasure awaits readers: Hughes’s use of language and description is lush and pointed, his wit incisive and ever-present, his particularity of detail enthralling. Those who relished The Fatal Shore (the excerpts from which will make readers hunger for the complete book) will find much to admire in his assessments of the art world, and those who knew only his art criticism will be beguiled by his autobiographical tales, which cover such varied topics as his catastrophic, near-fatal car accident in 1999 and his love of fishing. Whether he’s taking down critic Clement Greenberg, expounding on the art market, describing the joys of Rome on a fine spring morning, or revisiting his childhood in Sydney, Hughes’s voice remains distinctive, opinionated, and engrossing. New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik provides an insightful and eloquent introduction. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/17/2015
Release date: 11/17/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 688 pages - 978-0-307-38599-4
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