Ovid and the Metamorphoses of Modern Art from Botticelli to Picasso by Paul Barolsky - review by James Hall

James Hall

All Change, Please

Ovid and the Metamorphoses of Modern Art from Botticelli to Picasso

By

Yale University Press 250pp £25 order from our bookshop
 

Paul Barolsky is a freak – a tenured academic (professor of art history at the University of Virginia) who avoids footnotes; who writes bite-size paragraphs and mini-sections with startling headlines rather than structured chapters; who makes jokes and has jokey titles (Michelangelo’s Nose); who revels in lateral thinking, fast-forwarding and degrees of separation (‘From Ovid to Picasso Very Briskly’); and who loves to buttonhole the reader (‘Who Is This Book for?’).

Even so, Barolsky is no cheesy populiser or belletrist, and his mostly slim volumes are usually published by obscure university presses, only occasionally finding their way into mainstream bookshops. He has adopted a mode of writing first espoused by the Romantics, intoxicated by the cult of the laconic fragment, of

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