The Thumbnail Book Reviews

by John Q McDonald --- 22 April 2003

Just Looking

Essays on Art

by John Updike

In this collection of short essays, John Updike reveals a relaxed and intellectually nimble train of thinking on art. He has a history of looking at the casual world around him and observing the accute connections between people and their physical environment. He exhibits this gift in his novels, and here captures that observant style in essays that have appeared in various publications over his career. There are reviews of big art shows, and short glances as if over his shoulder at curious or beautiful pieces he's known. He speaks of the great artists and occasionally the obscure. He speaks from a personal standpoint and much less from a scholarly one. Thus, there is a welcome personal tone in the experience of art here, at once intelligent and folksy. The book is lavishly illustrated (in its Boston Museum of Fine Arts edition) with beautiful color reproductions of some of the great works Updike discusses. The writing is quick and engaging (just 200 pages), as well as personal. It captures well the gentle experience of art, and applies well across a vast array of potential art viewing moments. Overall, a pretty good book, if not quite as riveting as Updike's fiction.

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See also: [Still Looking]

Also by Updike: [The Centaur] [S.] [The Poorhouse Fair] [Of the Farm] [Rabbit, Run] [Rabbit Redux]
[Rabbit is Rich] [Rabbit at Rest] [Licks of Love] [Toward the End of Time] [The Witches of Eastwick]

See also: [Updike, by Adam Begley]

[Other Art Books]