There isn’t a single subject that Adam Gopnik’s prose can’t bring to life. As staff writer at the New Yorker since 1986, he has written about almost everything, including, just in the last year, Proust, gun control, the Beatles, and the Marquis de Lafayette. But it’s when he starts writing about art that things get particularly delectable: “the runny, the spilled…the lipstick-traces-left-on-the-kleenex” life and style of Helen Frankenthaler; “the paint, laid on with a palette knife, that deliciously resembles cake frosting” technique of Florine Stettheimer; “the monumental and mock-monumental that tango in the imagination” of Claes Oldenburg.
And perhaps the reason why Gopnik, who has a graduate degree in art history from NYU’s Institute of Fine Art, is able to write about art with such lucidness and latitude is that he isn’t just knowledgeable about art; he adores it. The charge, the perfume, the misty spray of the orange peel that is evoked when you stand in the Arena Chapel - everything that, if you’re not careful, becoming a professional in your creative field will neutralize.
We talked about being docents in large museums, how to hook your audience, how to write a poem about art, Vladimir Tatlin, Steve Martin, Stephen Sondheim, the incompatible forces that create beauty, and the noble truths of art creating and art writing: eye to hand, and I to you.
The Blue Dot Sessions, “Balti”
Mandy Patinkin, “Finishing the Hat” from Sunday in the Park with George
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