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Fictions Of Art

Every artwork has to be imagined before it is made, and every artwork that’s made only takes effect in someone’s imagination, where it may continue to unfold even long after it has been lost to sight.

Picture a Picture of a Bed

Being a mere imitation of a thing, a picture is a bad thing, and since other forms of imitation, such as epic and tragic poetry, are likewise bad, it is essential that the citizens of the republic not develop a taste for such things, which offer empty distraction and false gratification and will only bring them to grief.

Paula Rego and Balzac: A Footnote

The story is about an invented painter of genius, Frenhofer, and his obsessional perfectionism. The real-life Franz Porbus and Nicolas Poussin are the other main male characters and friends of Frenhofer, who is one of Balzac’s most significant crazies.

The Cursed Painter

For example, Lantier claimed that he'd rather die of hunger than cave in to commerce, which for him included doing portraits for bourgeois clients, an activity he considered on a par with painting restaurant awnings and baubles for churches.

Oscar Wilde's Basil Hallward

An artist that I think a lot about is Basil Hallward. His fame is attached to his painted portrait of Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.

A War on the World of Surfaces

With a light touch to its frame, a painting depicting a deep interior gallery space filled with ancient sculptures suddenly and unexpectedly slides up into the wall to reveal a pitch black rectangular void behind its frame.

Elstir's Harbor at Carquethuit

When staying at a luxurious Normandy beach hotel, Marcel, the narrator of In Search of Lost Time, and a pal write a friendly note to a famous painter, Elstir, who lives nearby. Elstir then invites Marcel for a studio visit, though Marcel would prefer to meet the girls he sees but doesn’t yet know.

A Hunger Artist

On my first date with an artist who would eventually become my husband, I said, “Look at me, look at me, look at me!” I am also an artist and I wanted him to know, from the beginning, that I not only live for my work, but that I need an audience to view that work. Eventually my husband gave me “A Hunger Artist” by Franz Kafka.

Virginia Woolf's Paragone

Look at painting’s limits, Woolf suggests, and see how my novel transcends them.

Art World Doggerel

The first time we see him painting, he is in the bathroom, trying to paint a flower that had been given to him by Katharine “Kitty” March (Joan Bennett) the night before.

The Museum Frozen In Amber

For Holden, who can hardly imagine being in an adult, productive relationship with the people and institutions that surround him, the reflex gesture is to defensively negate them.

A Chance Encounter

I was delighted to bump into my old friend Harold in Grand Central last Tuesday, literally, as he was busy staring at the celestial ceiling. Not surprising, given his proclivity to look up at the moon. His intrepid nocturnal adventures—as chronicled by Crockett Johnson in his book Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955)—were a source of early inspiration to many young minds, my own included.

The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting

In 1978, the Chilean filmmaker/writer, Raúl Ruiz, was commissioned by French television to make a documentary on the painter/writer, Pierre Klossowski. Over the course of its production, Ruiz abandoned this documentary to make The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting—a feature-length film which smuggled Klossowski’s theories of art into a neo-baroque portrait of an imaginary nineteenth-century artist, Fredéric Tonnerre, whose exhibition of a series of seven paintings caused a major yet mysterious scandal in the Parisian court.

Nalo Hopkinson's Message in a Bottle

Kamla is an art curator from the future. Sent back into our present—her past—in order to retrieve artworks that otherwise would not survive until her own time, she’s one of a group of curators who had themselves cloned.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2019

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