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Consider the lions

Peter Campbell, 22 July 1993

The House of Gold 
by Richard Goy.
Cambridge, 304 pp., £60, January 1993, 0 521 40513 0
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The Palace of the Sun 
by Robert Berger.
Pennsylvania State, 232 pp., £55, April 1993, 0 271 00847 4
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... but it is still the most impressive and among the most magisterially consistent. Richard Goy and Robert Berger, in their respective accounts of the construction of the Cà d’Oro and of Louis XIV’s Louvre, remove ambiguities which hang around the word ‘built’. They ask who made decisions, who paid, and how much, and why each building took this ...

In Denbigh Road

Peter Campbell: David Sylvester, 7 February 2002

... with him usually agree that he was the most engaged and patient looker at art they ever knew. Robert Rosenblum rightly says, in David Sylvester: The Private Collection, that there was something comical about his high seriousness, but it is also true that, ‘unlike the rest of us ironists’, he could make one feel (or at least feel one ought to ...

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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... preferences paled in comparison with attacks on the way he justified his taste. In 1955 John Berger attacked the idea of ‘the iron division between the “highbrow” and the “lowbrow”’ in a piece in the Nation, whose association with Greenberg had ended a few years earlier in a flurry of lawsuits. Though he didn’t name names, ...

Coldstream

Lawrence Gowing, 19 March 1987

... savoured of art or taste was excluded. In the studio which Coldstream shared with Graham Bell in Robert Street off the Hampstead Road ‘art’ had become a dirty word, though the depth of bitterness was reserved for the word ‘artistic’. Coldstream’s time at the GPO Film Unit was coming to an end, but his association with John Grierson had a lasting ...

Was Weber wrong?

Malise Ruthven, 18 August 1994

The Revenge of God: The Resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Modern World 
by Gilles Kepel.
Polity, 200 pp., £39.50, December 1993, 0 7456 0999 6
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Pious Passion: The Emergence of Modern Fundamentalism in the United States and Iran 
by Martin Riesebrodt.
California, 272 pp., £30, September 1993, 0 520 07463 7
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... of politics. Commenting on the growth of evangelical and fundamentalist churches, Peter Berger, doyen of Weberian theorists, was forced to admit that ‘serious intellectual difficulties’ had been created ‘for those (like myself) who thought that modernisation and secularisation were inexorably linked phenomena.’ Brushing aside the Muslim ...

Men at Work

Tom Lubbock, 12 January 1995

Looking at Giacometti 
by David Sylvester.
Chatto, 256 pp., £25, October 1994, 9780701162528
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... need evidently felt by its audience for authoritative/enthusiastic communicators (Kenneth Clark, Robert Hughes, Wendy Beckett) which no other artistic public feels – though these things are doubtless relevant. I mean the priority given to a mode of address: when the critic performs, not by talking to us about work to which we’re both assumed to have ...

Downhill Racer

John Sutherland, 16 August 1990

Lying together 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 255 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 575 04802 6
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The Neon Bible 
by John Kennedy Toole.
Viking, 162 pp., £12.99, March 1990, 0 670 82908 0
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Solomon Gursky was here 
by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 576 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 394 53995 8
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Death of the Soap Queen 
by Peter Prince.
Bloomsbury, 277 pp., £13.99, April 1990, 0 7475 0611 6
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... his national service in Puerto Rico. The manuscript was submitted to Simon and Schuster, where Robert Gottlieb, after dickering for two years, eventually turned it down in 1966. By 1969 Toole was an English instructor at Dominican University, working in his spare time on his PhD. A modest academic career seemed likely. But Toole began to behave in a ...

Diary

Giles Gordon: Experimental Sideshows, 7 October 1993

... as though they meant it, as though they meant it to matter ... Samuel Beckett (of course), John Berger, Christine Brooke-Rose, Brigid Brophy, Anthony Burgess, Alan Burns, Angela Carter, Eva Figes, Giles Gordon, Wilson Harris, Rayner Heppenstall, even hasty, muddled Robert Nye, Ann Quin, Penelope Shuttle, Alan Sillitoe ...

Hanging Offence

David Sylvester, 21 October 1993

... period confront us from the back wall while in the middle of the floor, humped in silence, is Robert Morris’s big low cage of a steel sculpture of 1967 and to either side whitish paintings by Robert Ryman and Agnes Martin. No self-respecting museum would present a combination which was so insouciant ...

Eat Your Spinach

Tony Wood: Russia and the West, 2 March 2017

Return to Cold War 
by Robert Legvold.
Polity, 208 pp., £14.99, February 2016, 978 1 5095 0189 2
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Should We Fear Russia? 
by Dmitri Trenin.
Polity, 144 pp., £9.99, November 2016, 978 1 5095 1091 7
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Who Lost Russia? How the World Entered a New Cold War 
by Peter Conradi.
Oneworld, 384 pp., £18.99, February 2017, 978 1 78607 041 8
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... the Cold War standing in this case as both analogy and warning. In Return to Cold War, Robert Legvold – a specialist in post-Soviet foreign policy and regular contributor to Foreign Affairs – sees worrying similarities between the current situation and the early stages of the Cold War (c.1948-53), focusing in particular on the rhetorical ...

Bullshit and Beyond

Clive James, 18 February 1988

The Road to Botany Bay 
by Paul Carter.
Faber, 384 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 571 14551 5
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The Oxford History of Australia. Vol. IV: 1901-1942 
by Stuart Macintyre.
Oxford, 399 pp., £22.50, October 1987, 0 19 554612 1
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The Archibald Paradox: A Strange Case of Authorship 
by Sylvia Lawson.
Penguin Australia, 292 pp., AUS $12.95, September 1987, 0 14 009848 8
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The Lucky Country Revisited 
by Donald Horne.
Dent, 235 pp., AUS $34.95, October 1987, 9780867700671
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... have had a good deal to do with it. The phrase ‘ways of seeing’ crops up, reminding us of John Berger and his allegedly penetrating double squint. The authorial assumption which remains unquestioned at the end of the book – after 350 pages in which the word ‘spatial’ appears rarely fewer than three times per paragraph and sometimes twice in the same ...

Whatever happened to Ed Victor?

Jenny Diski, 6 July 1995

Hippie Hippie Shake: The Dreams, the Trips, the Trials, the Love-ins, The Screw Ups … The Sixties 
by Richard Neville.
Bloomsbury, 376 pp., £18.99, May 1995, 0 7475 1554 9
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... enough from their media involvement at the time – Richard Neville himself, Germaine Greer, Robert Hughes, Charles Shaar Murray. Some people died, but only the famously talented (Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison) stick in the public memory. Most of the freaks, hippies and radicals recognised that youth was just a holiday, and come the end of the summer of love ...

Diary

Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman, 16 July 2015

... other composers in the American maverick tradition, from Charles Ives, Cage and Morton Feldman to Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix and Sun Ra.The revolution that began at the Five Spot was part of the wider black freedom struggle, as well as an extension of an American philosophy of self-reliance and artistic emancipation that runs from Emerson to Whitman to ...

Miami Twice

Edward Said, 10 December 1987

Going to Miami: Exiles, Tourists and Refugees in the New America 
by David Rieff.
Bloomsbury, 230 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 7475 0064 9
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Miami 
by Joan Didion.
Simon and Schuster, 224 pp., $17.95, October 1987, 0 671 64664 8
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... people and, naturally, drugs. To read Rieff on Miami is to recall with nostalgia John Berger’s The Seventh Man, with its haunting photographs by Jean Mohr of migrant Turkish or Italian workers in Switzerland, and its affecting notions about home and wandering. Rieff deals, not with a potentially Left force, but with violently right-wing ...

Preposterous Timing

Hal Foster: Medieval Modern Art, 8 November 2012

Medieval Modern: Art out of Time 
by Alexander Nagel.
Thames and Hudson, 312 pp., £29.95, November 2012, 978 0 500 23897 4
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Depositions: Scenes from the Late Medieval Church and the Modern Museum 
by Amy Knight Powell.
Zone, 369 pp., £24.95, May 2012, 978 1 935408 20 8
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... tableau of a secular scene, the bourgeois mode of ‘a window on the world’ (which John Berger once associated with a safe on the wall), or a modernist painting of pure abstraction (which, despite the frequent claims of autonomy made on its behalf, is usually a commodity on the wall too). Like many others, Nagel sees a gradual breakdown of this ...

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