The existence of a market for any kind of valuable object almost always encourages the production of counterfeits. It happens with drugs, banknotes, and designer handbags. It also happens with works of art. But whereas counterfeiting banknotes or other documents has always been considered a crime, attitudes toward art forgery have changed greatly over time, as Jonathon Keats and Thierry Lenain explain in their recent books.
Among art historians, T.J. Clark made his name as a radical outsider. Once a member of the Situationist International, he has since preferred to follow his own peculiar path. This he did at Berkeley as a professor of modern art, until his recent retirement. He has been more an essayist around art than a scholar of art. Indeed, he is almost as well known in English departments as he is in art history departments. He also writes poetry; he has escaped from academia and become a literary figure. Now he takes on Picasso. He finds that most writing on the artist has been "abominable". It tends to "gossip or hero-worship".
"There are those who believe that delving into the biography of artists ensures a deeper perception of their art. I am not one of them. The notion that a work of art has to mirror the person of the artist, that man and work are an equation, that the integrity of the person warrants the integrity of his production—such belief seems to me to belong, particularly in the area of music, to the realm of wishful thinking. "
The “other” Russia, the Russia of poets and writers, the Russia of culture, destroyed in the Soviet Union, was preserved underground and in emigration. Will it help to give Russia its third chance at democracy?
Someone must have been telling lies about K., for the popular image of him as the great Gloomy Gus of 20th-century letters (close rivals: Beckett, Cioran, maybe Céline) does not bear very much scrutiny.
Of course it's important to read the great poets and novelists. But not in a university classroom, where literature has been turned into a bland, soulless competition for grades and status. Lee Siegel on putting the joy back in reading.