REPORTED SIGHTINGS: Art Chronicles, 1957-1987 by John Ashbery edited by David Bergman (Alfred A. Knopf: $35; 417 pp.)
America's great poet and art critic, John Ashbery, presents some of his most provocative essays on art. Ashbery has long been one of America's most important art critics--first for the Paris Herald Tribune and later for New York and Newsweek. Illustrated.
Nonfiction in Brief
Poet John Ashbery, whose "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror" won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1975, is perhaps less well known for his art criticism. The best of these essays, written over the course of 30 years and ranging over such topics as Dada and Surrealism, the expatriate American art community in Paris, the careers of Jackson Pollock, Giorgio de Chirico, Henri Michaux, architecture and wallpaper, are collected in this volume.
Ashbery writes as a keen, informed, but disinterested observer. Analyses of painterly qualities and habits recombine with personal responses or musings. "A painter like (Jackson) Pollock . . . was gambling everything on the fact that he was the greatest painter in America, for if he wasn't, he was nothing, and the drips would turn out to be random splashes from the brush of a careless housepainter."