Thomas Marks

Painting with Words

Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art

By

Jonathan Cape 276pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Artists often shy away from speaking about their work, or shrink from what others have to say about it. Sometimes that’s because their fluency with, say, a paintbrush or chisel isn’t matched by a corresponding verbal facility; but more frequently it’s a calculated choice, based on the feeling that words have a way of leaching art of what makes it most powerful or inscrutable. Braque once claimed, ‘The only thing that matters in art is what cannot be explained’, while Degas pronounced that ‘words are not necessary: you say humph, , ha, and everything has been said’.

A lot of writing about art only reinforces the notion that

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'It would be nice to think that women will achieve equal pay in my lifetime, rather than to watch gloomily as stati… ,
    • In 1660, two of the signatories of King Charles I's death warrant fled across the Atlantic to New England. But were… ,
    • Howard Jacobson's sixteenth novel is 'a love story of sorts, one characterised not by physical desire or even conta… ,
    • 'The sudden immersion in the new and unfamiliar can lead people to write with a rare lack of self-consciousness' P… ,
    • 'Pools bend the rules. Clothes slip off, skin glistens, consciousness heightens. A dreamlike scenario unfolds' Jam… ,
    • 'Although he surely didn’t know W H Auden’s theory that every high C proclaims human freedom and our capacity to tr… ,
    • RT : With beginning tomorrow, we've uncovered a 1997 article from the archive reviewing 'Golf Dream… ,