Art in Fiction video: Oliver Goldsmith – The Vicar of Wakefield, 1766

The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith, written in 1761 and 1762, and published in 1766, became one of the most widely read books in English literature. The novel follows the fortunes and misfortunes of a Yorkshire vicar, Dr. Primrose, and his family.

Chapter 16. The family use art, which is opposed by still greater.

The narrative provides an unparalleled description of the commission of a family group portrait by an itinerant painter plying the artist’s trade in the English provinces in the mid 18th century. The excitement and discussion of the costume and composition is enjoyed by the whole village. The social cachet and class distinctions, or minor snobbery, of having a portrait painted are keenly understood. The Vicar of Wakefield, Dr Primrose, adopts a theological intellectual pose, while his wife Deborah and their six children choose to be depicted as Venus, cupids, a shepherdess and an Amazon. The local Squire Thornhill, was included as Alexander the Great. The painter, or travelling limner, who ‘took likenesses for fifteen shillings a head’ is not considered important enough to be named.

Chapter 20. The history of a philosophic vagabond, pursuing novelty, but losing content.

The young Vicar of Wakefield, Dr Primrose, is instructed in the tricks of the art trade in Paris, and teacher on the Grand Tour of France and Italy. The narrative suggests that there was little confidence in the connoisseurship of the art dealer or in the role of guide on the Grand Tour. 

Art in Fiction video: Teju Cole -Open City, 2012. Chapter 12

Teju Cole, born in 1975, is an American writer, photographer, and art historian. Open City is a documentary novel that explores layers of urban history and migrant experience set in post 9/11 New York. The narrative is seen through the eyes of Julius, a young Nigerian-German psychiatrist who, in solitary walks, traverses and discovers New York.

He writes about the mental associations  that emerge through observation of the culture and architecture of the city and describes the thoughts of Julius as he thinks and reflects about art and memory and history and the crosscurrents of art, photography, music and literature – in short the human condition.

He has been described as an aesthetic cosmopolitan. The visual arts and visits to galleries and museums are integral to the book. Chapter 12 describes an exhibition of photographs by 20th century Hungarian photographer Martin Munkácsi at the International Center of Photography.

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Art in Fiction video: Teju Cole – Open City, 2012. Chapter 3

Teju Cole – Open City, 2012. Chapter 3

Teju Cole, born in 1975, is an American writer, photographer, and art historian. Open City is a documentary novel that explores layers of urban history and migrant experience set in post 9/11 New York. The narrative is seen through the eyes of Julius, a young Nigerian-German psychiatrist who, in solitary walks, traverses and discovers New York.

He writes about the mental associations  that emerge through observation of the culture and architecture of the city and describes the thoughts of Julius as he thinks and reflects about art and memory and history and the crosscurrents of art, photography, music and literature – in short the human condition.

He has been described as an aesthetic cosmopolitan. The visual arts, galleries and museums are integral to the book. There are discussions of Jan Van Eyck, medieval German wood sculptors, Diego Velázquez and Paul Claudel. There is an extended description of the colonial era painter John Brewster at the American Folk Art museum.

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Art in Fiction video: Alan Holmes – The Rebel, 1961

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Art in Fiction Video: Alan Holmes, The Rebel, 1961. Alan Holmes is a pen name – the initials A.H. are also those of the actor Anthony Hancock, and is a book based on the comic film of  The Rebel with screenplay by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson made in 1961. The film is an English satirical take on the Bohemian pretensions of the art world in Paris.  Tony Hancock is The Rebel who leaves the conformity of suburbia and routine office life and the daily commute on the 8.32 to the City. The Rebel arrives in Paris to become a Bohemian artist in smock and beret. He adopts a pantomime approach to the idea of the artist genius – He makes action paintings, that satirise Jackson Pollock, with titles – Exhaust Fumes on a Wet Thursday Night; and Sodium Light on a Left Buttock, and announces new art movements – the Infantile School and Shapist movement. He attends an Existentialist vernissage with long haired poets, girls with green and orange hair, green faces and  green lipstick.

Alan Holmes-The Rebel,1961

https://youtu.be/nmEroBFpyvI

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Art in Fiction Video – Will Self – Great Apes, 1997

Will Self – Great Apes, 1997

Set in a gallery opening in the YBA era of the 1990s – the artist wakes up in a world where chimps have evolved to be the dominant species with self-awareness, while humans are the equivalent of chimps in our world.

Thanks to The GAP Arts Project 100 Stories Deep for the invitation to take part in the 100 Stories project. Thanks to Haqi Ali – Director of Photography.

Art in Fiction Video – Don DeLillo – Baader-Meinhof, 2011

Don DeLillo – Baader-Meinhof, 2011.

Set in a museum of contemporary art, MoMA, New York, in a gallery displaying a series of fifteen paintings by Gerhard Richter – 18 October 1977 – showing the dead bodies of the leaders of the German revolutionary Baader-Meinhof group. The main activists in the group Ulrike Meinhof, Gudrun Ensllin and Andreas Baader were held at Stammheim prison, and all were found dead in the cells with their deaths attributed to suicide.

In Don DeLillo’s story a man and a woman have a conversation about the paintings which becomes an aesthetic engagement – a questioning of the subject matter and the motivations of the subjects – that emerges through the duration of looking at the paintings. The woman’s feelings for the paintings change from complicated emotions to confusion to love.

Thanks to Haqi Ali – Director of Photography