READING: ‘Keeping an Eye Open” – essays on art, Julian Barnes
Jonathan Cape, 2015
Julian Barnes’s elegant style of writing makes this book a compelling read. He has a light touch coupled with a deep and erudite understanding of art and artists. His style of writing is both entertaining and insightful and the reader really feels to be gaining insights into some of the hidden places of the artists’ thoughts and motivation. The essays cover the work of Gericault, Delecroix, Courbet, Manet, Fantin-Latour, Cezanne, Degas, Redon, Bonnard, Vuillard, Vallotton, Braque, Magritte, Oldenburg, Howard Hodgkin and Freud.
This was an important book for me at the stage I’m at with becoming an artist. When you are taking this step in the latter stages of your life, one of the hardest shifts in thought is to actually begin to see yourself as an artist. All of my career has been centred around creativity but not as a practising artist. As I come to the final stages of the course, I realise how important this perception of myself is. Julian Barnes’s ability, through his own extensive knowledge and understanding, to explore the lives of some of the masters of painting, brings their experience very close and somehow provides a link with one’s own life and aspirations. This is a book I shall continue to return to.