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Jennifer Hornsby, 21 July 1983

Language and Thought 
by John Pollock.
Princeton, 297 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 691 07269 8
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... content: the speaker says, and the speaker thinks, and the audience grasps that the sky is blue. Pollock thinks that such a simple description is seldom applicable: he thinks that it is incorrect when the words a speaker uses are dependent on context for their sense, and he thinks that nearly all the sentences we use contain context-dependent words. He puts ...

Jackson breaks the ice

Andrew Forge, 4 April 1991

Jackson PollockAn American Saga 
by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith.
Barrie and Jenkins, 934 pp., £19.95, March 1990, 0 7126 3866 0
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Abstract Expressionism 
by David Anfam.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 500 20243 5
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Night Studio: A Memoir of Philip Guston 
by Musa Mayer.
Thames and Hudson, 256 pp., £8.95, February 1991, 0 500 27633 1
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... the definition of a truly American avant-garde. The critical moment was November 1943, Jackson Pollock’s exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century. It was widely reviewed. It was supported by people who until now had only been interested in European art. A few pictures sold. The power of pictures like She Wolf and Guardians of the Gate was ...

Star Warrior

John Sutherland, 6 October 1983

Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas 
by Dale Pollock.
Elm Tree, 304 pp., £9.95, July 1983, 0 241 11034 3
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Olaf Stapledon: A Man Divided 
by Leslie Fiedler.
Oxford, 236 pp., £17.50, June 1983, 0 19 503086 9
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... back have sold getting on for $900m worth of tickets. C-3PO and R2-D2 are as well known as Pope John Paul or Mickey Mouse. Lucas’s second movie and first hit, American Graffiti (produced by Francis Coppola, conceived and directed by Lucas), was the most profitable investment in Hollywood history: it brought in $117m against a production cost of ...

Plucking the Fruits of Knowledge

Linda Nochlin: The Surprising Boldness of Mary Cassatt, 15 April 1999

Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman 
edited by Judith Barter.
Abrams, 376 pp., £40, November 1998, 0 8109 4089 2
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Mary Cassatt: Painter of Modern Women 
by Griselda Pollock.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £7.95, September 1998, 0 500 20317 2
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... to her reputation as a great beauty. Certainly, it is not a flattering portrait, of the kind that John Singer Sargent was producing for a satisfied clientèle. If we compare it to a slightly later Sargent portrait – Lady Agnew, for example – we find the pose of Cassatt’s subject far more rigid, the costume and decor more severe; the tell-tale signs of ...


John Bayley, 4 June 1987

The Faber Book of Diaries 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 498 pp., £12.95, March 1987, 0 571 13806 3
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A Lasting Relationship: Parents and Children over Three Centuries 
by Linda Pollock.
Fourth Estate, 319 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 947795 25 1
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... Dorothy Wordsworth makes it clear whose eyes her own journal is for, after William and his brother John had left her in Trasmere, and set off to walk into Yorkshire, ‘cold pork in their pockets’: ‘I resolved to write a journal of the time till W and J return, and I set about keeping my resolve, because I will not quarrel with myself, and because I shall ...

Back of Beyond

John Barrell, 9 April 1992

Keeping a rendezvous 
by John Berger.
Granta, 252 pp., £14.99, January 1992, 0 14 014229 0
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... they look so hard.’ Throughout this very varied book, and especially when writing on art, John Berger invites us to acknowledge the absolutes and universals which, he insists, lie behind the surfaces of things. He doesn’t have a great deal to say about those absolutes, and asks us to be content with terms like the essential, the invisible, the ...

Hare’s Blood

Peter Wollen: John Berger, 4 April 2002

The Selected Essays of John Berger 
edited by Geoff Dyer.
Bloomsbury, 599 pp., £25, November 2001, 0 7475 5419 6
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... John Berger’s selected essays run to nearly six hundred pages, yet that is just the tip of the iceberg if one looks at the totality of his published work: the essays and reviews about the visual arts – drawing, painting, photography, film – but also short stories, journals, screenplays, travel articles, letters, television scripts, translations, novels, poems, even a requiem in three parts which gives a wrenching account of the untimely deaths of three of Berger’s neighbours ...

Balls and Strikes

Charles Reeve: Clement Greenberg, 5 April 2007

Art Czar: The Rise and Fall of Clement Greenberg 
by Alice Goldfarb Marquis.
Lund Humphries, 321 pp., £25, April 2006, 0 85331 940 5
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... it, producing not only Rockwell, Guest and the Saturday Evening Post but also Georges Simenon, John Steinbeck and the New Yorker (‘high-class kitsch for the luxury trade’). With kitsch running wild, like the capitalism which propelled it, authenticity needed defending. For nearly fifty years, Greenberg shouldered the task, separating good art from bad ...

Institutional Hypocrisy

David Runciman: Selling the NHS, 21 April 2005

Restoring Responsibility: Ethics in Government, Business and Healthcare 
by Dennis Thompson.
Cambridge, 349 pp., £16.99, November 2004, 0 521 54722 9
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NHS plc: The Privatisation of Our Healthcare 
by Allyson Pollock.
Verso, 271 pp., £15.99, September 2004, 1 84467 011 2
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Brown’s Britain 
by Robert Peston.
Short Books, 369 pp., £14.99, January 2005, 1 904095 67 4
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... an injection of private capital plus market-style competition to generate patient choice? Allyson Pollock thinks that the answer to this question is an unequivocal no. She argues that New Labour’s reforms of NHS funding, which build on but also threaten to go much further than the Tory reforms of the 1980s and 1990s, constitute a betrayal of the basic ...

Hanging Offence

David Sylvester, 21 October 1993

... portraits of the Thirties (and, if there were more space, a related de Kooning and ideally a John Graham too, but at all events one such Gorky). Rosenthal’s view was that ‘in no way’ could such a painting be ‘described as one of the most central works of 20th-century American art. Gorky’s significance was to come later, in the last few years of ...

Everybody wants a Rembrandt

Nicholas Penny, 17 March 1983

The Rare Art Traditions 
by Joseph Alsop.
Thames and Hudson, 691 pp., £30, November 1982, 0 500 23359 4
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... contribution to the excellent Zeitgeist exhibition in Berlin. He could well be the new Jackson Pollock. The emphasis is on Schnabel’s personality (‘angry’ – but what about?), his image (‘half-Courbet, half-apeman’), his career (he was ‘deliberately’ overlooked), and on the big money backing him. There is the conversion (‘I was finally ...

A Likely Story

Frank Kermode, 25 January 1996

Howard Hodgkin: Paintings 
by Michael Auping, John Elderfield and Susan Sontag, edited by Marla Price.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £28, October 1995, 0 500 09256 7
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Howard Hodgkin 
by Andrew Graham-Dixon.
Thames and Hudson, 192 pp., £24.95, October 1994, 0 500 27769 9
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... an oblique and unsolicited tribute. There is evidence of this persistent dialogue of the deaf in John Hollander’s excellent book, The Gazer’s Spirit: Poems Speaking to Silent Works of Art, a learned study of the tradition of ekphrasis – poetic description of paintings – illustrated by a ‘gallery’ of paintings and their tributary poems: Aretino on ...

Bananas Book

Eric Korn, 22 November 1979

Saturday Night Reader 
edited by Emma Tennant.
W.H. Allen, 246 pp., £5.95
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... by initiates is heightened by the slow-dawning certainty that the Marcus Gutteridge talked to by John Mortimer is a made-up person, a chimera of all those doddering reminiscers (‘Aldous was extremely short-sighted’) whom young literary journalists feel obliged to interview. Well, of course, now I see it, and now that I’m in the joke very funny it is ...

Hi, Louise!

Stephanie Burt: Frank O’Hara, 20 July 2000

In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O’Hara and American Art 
by Russell Ferguson.
California, 160 pp., £24.50, October 1999, 0 520 22243 1
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The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets 
by David Lehman.
Anchor, 448 pp., $16.95, November 1999, 0 385 49533 1
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Frank O’Hara: Poet among Painters 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Chicago, 266 pp., £13.50, March 1998, 0 226 66059 1
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... and you may get what looks like a Post-It note to a friend, or versified notes on a Jackson Pollock painting, a James Dean movie or ‘the music of Adolphe Deutsch’. You may also get one of many enticing, informal, secretly-complex poems that sound like nobody else ever has: How can you start hating me when I’m so comfortable in your raincoat the ...

Boy Gang

Peter Prince, 19 January 1984

Minor Characters 
by Joyce Johnson.
Collins, 262 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 00 272511 8
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Neurotica: The Authentic Voice of the Beat Generation 1948-1951 
edited by Jay Landesman and G. Legman.
Jay Landesman, 535 pp., £19.95, July 1981, 0 905150 26 0
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Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac 
by Gerald Nicosia.
Grove, 767 pp., £14.95, October 1983, 0 394 52270 2
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... writers and artists and drinking buddies, Kerouac then had few admirers. In 1950, under the name John Kerouac, he had published The Town and the City, a lengthy, rather formal account of his childhood and youth, heavily influenced by Thomas Wolfe. The novel had made little impression, and Kerouac himself had swiftly turned against it, finding its traditional ...

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