978-0-00-710127-6 / 9780007101276

Sister Wendy's American Collection





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About the book:

Sister Wendy's catholic view of art is as rare as her insightful view of Western religious painting. The work she admires is startlingly diverse, embracing Paul Revere's silver and a bodhisattva from Pakistan, an Issey Miyake metallic polyester dress and a Mayan vase, not to mention paintings by artists as remote in style and vision as John Singer Sargent and Joan Mitchell. Sister Wendy's American Collection is a highly selective tour through six major U.S. museums: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art in Ohio, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. To frequent museumgoers, her choices initially can seem charmingly arbitrary--until they begin to inspire the urge to check out those galleries again.

With a page or two allotted to each art work (short essays in large type and 250-odd modestly sized illustrations), this is a friendly book to curl up with, as unpretentious as Sister Wendy herself. Anyone looking for detailed art historical information will be disappointed by her tendency to coast on a thimbleful of facts, yet her gift for plainspoken rapture about art remains intact on the page.

When she singles out from the Met's vast collections an Ottoman sultan's elegant logo with its "small paradise" of painted flowers, when she peers at the tense body of the young cheat in Caravaggio's The Cardsharps at the Kimbell, or ambles along the length of a Sung dynasty landscape painting at the Cleveland museum, that's when Sister Wendy proves the value of close, patient looking as a contemplative act. --Cathy Curtis

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