The emergence of a really fresh and distinctive voice in the realm of art criticism is a rarer phenomenon than is commonly supposed—rarer, certainly, than the emergence of a striking new talent in art. For this reason, as well as for others, the publication of Sanford Schwartz’s The Art Presence must be regarded as something of an event.[1] For this collection of essays on nineteenth- and twentieth-century painting, sculpture, and photography is the real thing—criticism that can be trusted to illumine rather than to obscure the objects of its attention. It displays a remarkable independence, too, both in the quality of its perceptions and in the very choice of its subjects. And it is written in a prose style that, while not without certain flaws, is lively, lucid, friendly, and completely faithful to the experience that animates it. Few recent books of art...


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