That's Camille Paglia, in the November Smithsonian. Does what she's saying resonate with you? Paglia has a new book on art out now called Glittering Images, in which she asks the reader to "stop and scrutinize each picture as if it were a devotional image in a prayer book." I enjoyed her close readings of assorted poems in Break, Blow, Burn (including "Woodstock" by Joni Mitchell), and look forward to the exegeses in her "Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars."
I must confess that one of my favorite pastimes is slowly perusing a newly acquired art or photography book, submerging myself in the timeless beauty therein until the perpetual hubbub of daily life is but a distant murmur. Daedalus Books is an unfailing source for these treasured tomes, including beautiful books on Renoir and Modigliani, an exquisite volume depicting Eros in Renaissance paintings, and rare collections of prints by Hokusai and other Japanese masters.
One of my hobbyhorses is ancient Egyptian art, and we have oodles of books depicting it, including ones on Egyptian art at various museums and mammoth surveys of its many-millenia history.
|"Sarumaru Dayu" from Hokusai's 100 Poems series|
"These color Pictures of 100 Poems by 100 Poets, Explained by the Nurse'' interpret traditional Japanese ... poetic forms visually by means of the persona of a 'nurse' who functions as a less sophisticated viewer and commentator than the artist himself. The results are spectacular. Whether showing semi-nude women abalone divers struggling with their catch while a male crew of shriveled old salts leers from a nearby boat, or the carefree rapture of a leisurely group of men and women observing cherry blossoms at their peak, Hokusai captures with drama and delicacy sublime and ridiculous states. The artist's simplicity, though deceptive, is also remarkable: he illustrates a poem about a lovers' seaside tryst with a magnificently imposing yet unadorned sailing vessel, its small window offering a coy glimpse of the fortunate couple inside. Each print (as well as 41 black-and-white sketches of projected prints apparently never completed) is accompanied by the poem, in Japanese and English."—Publishers Weekly