Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Best of 2012: Art History

One of the many items [old and new] enjoyed by Burbank Public Library staff during 2012, recommended for your consideration:

I’d chosen The Lost Painting, by Jonathan Harr, in paperback form, for airplane reading…but made the mistake of starting it before my trip began, and became so engrossed that I had to read it right straight through, leaving me bereft for the journey. It’s a good thing I work in a library.

My favorite books mash up favorite topics and, in reading at least, less is not more, more is more! Harr delivers.

This book has Italy, archives, art, academics, the triumph of an underdog, sleuthing, history, perseverance, and lush and evocative descriptions not dependent on adjectives. The story, about the hunt for and finding of a long-lost Caravaggio painting, is told with an eye for what’s beautiful, a sense of what’s important, an ear for cadence,  and a knack for reporting and drawing out the story without rushing or, even worse, making something out of nothing. There was enough detail, about, say, the technical aspects of art history so that I learned something new. Although not much is known about Caravaggio, Harr doles out the (juicy) tidbits judiciously, making this book a tantalizing feast.

Triste L., Reference Librarian

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