Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Hoving’


Charles Jencks’ book on Post-Modernism was at 700 JE on the library shelf. What a relief, I had to refresh my memory on what he says about Pruitt-Igoe.  But at 700 HO, right next to Jencks, was “Art for Dummies.”  I pulled it off the shelf, hoping to find something to chuckle over after a week of overworking myself.  Hoving!  They got Thomas Hoving to contribute to the For Dummies series?!  I opened the book at random and there on p. 173 under the heading “Is Modern Art Something of a Joke?” I found this wonderful paragraph:

“Modern art is, admittedly, rash, confusing, prone to making one suspect that it’s all a joke, annoying at times, and forever puzzling as to meaning and significance.  Yet, much of it possesses a power and an elegance equal to the greatest earlier movements and styles in Western art.  The real gift of Modern art is that it allowed artists, if they wanted, to go far beyond the rather restricted practice of copying a subject faithfully.  Pure energy could be expressed.  So could mysterious emotion.  It takes dedication and lots of work to come to grips with Modern art, but when you have saturated yourself in it, you will, in time, appreciate the explosive genius of Picasso and the infinite calm and serenity of its most illustrious master, who is, in my opinion Henri Matisse.  He once observed that he wanted to create an art that might be so comforting that tired businessmen would readily turn to it for solace.  Once you gaze at his triumphant Red Studio or Luxe, Calme et Volupté, in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, you’ll see that he succeeded.”

I took it to the circulation desk and checked it out along with the architecture books.  In his Art for Dummies book Hoving inserts some cartoons by Rich Tennant—something to chuckle over, after all.


Henri Matiss,  Red Studio, 1911

Henru Matisse, Luxe, Calme et Volupté, 1904

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.





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