John Russell (1919–2008) was Chief Art Critic at The New York Times from 1982 until 1990. He was the author of many art-historical studies, including Matisse, Father & Son and The Meanings of Modern Art.

IN THE REVIEW

Geniuses Together

Seek My Face

by John Updike
John Updike’s novel Seek My Face is the life story, told mostly in the first person singular, of an American woman called Hope Chafetz. She is presented to us as the wife and widow of a major figure in the history of American painting. The painter in question is identified …

Modern Art Groupie

Art Lover: A Biography of Peggy Guggenheim

by Anton Gill
For much of her long lifetime, Peggy Guggenheim was the archetypal “celeb”—a person, that is to say, who is known for being known. In the gossip that never spared her, there was buzz but little substance, and envy but no insight. Stories about her were told and retold at third …

In Goreyland

Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey

interviews selected and edited by Karen Wilkin

The Object-Lesson

by Edward Gorey
When he died in 2000 at the age of seventy-five Edward Gorey was well known and widely treasured as a draftsman, a storyteller, an illustrator, a balletomane of long standing, a master of the educated book-jacket, and an inventor of images that were peculiar to himself. Among image-makers, who but …

Face to Face with Seurat

Seurat: Drawings and Paintings

by Robert L. Herbert
It is easier for the visitor to France to read about Seurat than to see his work. There was, in fact, something almost willed, if not actually paralytic, about the readiness with which the guardians of the French cultural tradition allowed Seurat’s paintings and drawings to leave France, one by …

‘The King of the Cats’

Balthus

by Nicholas Fox Weber

Balthus: Catalogue Raisonné of the Complete Works

by Virginie Monnier and Jean Clair
Not very long ago, no English-language publisher would have wanted to consider a comprehensive survey of the life and work of a French painter known simply as Balthus. Balthus was widely regarded as an up-market near-pornographer who painted teenage young women in provocative attitudes and states that bordered on indecency.

Confessions of a Child of the Century

The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Picasso, Provence, and Douglas Cooper

by John Richardson
As an autobiographer, John Richardson has a great deal going for him. He has been in and around the international art world for many years. He can tell a story as well as anyone in town. If he has ever spent time with a bore, we don’t hear about it.

Happy Birthday, Elliott Carter!

Elliott Carter: Collected Essays and Lectures, 1937-1995

edited by Jonathan W. Bernard

The Music of Elliott Carter, second edition

by David Schiff, foreword by Elliott Carter
We have in our midst an American composer, Elliott Carter, who has reinvented the string quartet, perfected the microdrama for a single voice and a handful of instrumentalists, introduced a new sense of civility into the performance of very difficult pieces for large orchestra, and speculated about the nature of …