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Publisher's Summary

The updated edition of Julian Barnes’ best-loved writing on art, with seven new exquisite illustrated essays.

‘Flaubert believed that it was impossible to explain one art form in terms of another, and that great paintings required no words of explanation. Braque thought the ideal state would be reached when we said nothing at all in front of a painting. But we are very far from reaching that state. We remain incorrigibly verbal creatures who love to explain things, to form opinions, to argue... It is a rare picture which stuns, or argues, us into silence. And if one does, it is only a short time before we want to explain and understand the very silence into which we have been plunged.’

Julian Barnes began writing about art with a chapter on Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa in his 1989 novel A History of the World in 10½ Chapters. Since then he has written a series of remarkable essays, chiefly about French artists, which trace the story of how art made its way from Romanticism to Realism and into Modernism.

Keeping an Eye Open contains Barnes’ essays on Géricault, Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, Morisot, Fantin-Latour, Cézanne, Degas, Cassatt, Redon, Van Gogh, the legendary critic Huysmans, Bonnard, Vuillard, Vallotton, Braque, Magritte, Oldenburg, Howard Hodgkin and Lucian Freud. It also offers new perspectives on the fruitful relationship between writers and artists, and on the rivalry among Russian collectors of French art in the late 19th century.

©2015 Julian Barnes (P)2015 Audible, Ltd

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Highly recommend

Erudite and lyrical, this beautifully written meditation on chosen artists and their paintings are also superbly narrated by Andrew Wincott. His tone of voice is very comfortable to my ears.

Although I had to look for paintings online to get visual references the author was talking about, I didn’t think it was a chore.

Gericault, Fantin-Latour, Redon, Vuillard, Vallotton, Oldenburg, Hodgkin... these are unknown painters to me.
My favourite chapter is on Freud.

I thoroughly enjoyed this Audible production. I learned a lot.

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  • Matthew
  • 26-08-2015

'allo 'allo

where did they find the narrator? I don't need quotes to be read in a cheesy French accent, just because the person who said it was French...

10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Miss Judith Finlay
  • 04-08-2016

fascinating introduction to art history

I loved it, great personal stories about the personality of the artists behind great paintings!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Howard
  • 17-12-2020

Hackneyed Accents

Sadly I was disappointed to discover that there was no mention of the life of Van Clomp and his masterpiece The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies. Despite the comedy French accents rolled out at every opportunity it was an interesting listen if somewhat narrow in scope.

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