A Fragile Modernism: Whistler and His Impressionist Followers
Baron, Wendy, British Art Journal
A Fragile Modernism: Whistler and his Impressionist Followers
Anna Gruetzner Robins
Yale University Press, 2008, h/b, 256pp, 40 [pounds sterling], ISBN 978-
A Fragile Modernism is the product of decades of thought, stringent visual analysis and inspiration. No-one has closer knowledge of the early years of the New English Art Club, of the Royal Society of British Artists and of Whistler's disciples during the 1880s, than Dr Robins. She has drawn upon and drawn together her unrivalled familiarity with the art and archives of her chosen field, to write a mature and thought-provoking book. It is not for beginners. Readers need to know the context, and to a certain extent the detail, of painting and the graphic arts in Britain between 1880 and 1892. With that background, the book cannot fail to impress with its insights, its stimulating--if sometimes contentious--ideas and the quantity of hitherto unpublished information.
The book does not unfold as a chronological narrative. Instead, Robins tackles a different aspect of the art of Whistler and his followers in each of six interwoven and densely argued chapters. The first chapter sets the tone. Robins examines how, during the 1880s, Whistler experimented with radical ways of looking at the motif and translating it to paper, panel or canvas. The conventional reading of Whistler as refined aesthete primarily interested in the abstract …
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Publication information: Article title: A Fragile Modernism: Whistler and His Impressionist Followers. Contributors: Baron, Wendy - Author. Journal title: British Art Journal. Volume: 8. Issue: 3 Publication date: Winter 2007. Page number: 78+. © 2007 British Art Journal. COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale Group.
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