There’s a kind of magic in a piece of art in that it contains more than what meets the eye. For this week’s selection, Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA, founded in 1894 and the oldest and largest indie bookstore west of the Mississippi, has chosen to peer behind the canvas and reveal the deeper meanings in works of art. Our curator this week is book buyer Sherri Gallentine who has three gems you might want to add to your holiday wish list.
The Master of the Prado by Javier Sierra (Atria Books; November 17, 2015)
“Sierra’s unusual fictionalized memoir begins in 1990 when Sierra encounters a man in Madrid’s Prado Museum, whom he refers to as ‘The Master of the Prado.’ Over the course of several months the two meet at the museum and Sierra receives highly detailed lessons on the hidden meanings of some of the museums greatest treasures. What makes this novel unique is that interspersed are fold-outs and images of the paintings discussed in the story, making for a much more compelling read. I found myself rereading passages and closely examining the paintings to see the hidden messages and stories and as such, The Master of the Prado is as much an art history lesson as it is a novel.”
The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild (Knopf; November 3, 2015)
“Shady art dealers, a missing masterpiece and a London auction house all come together for an original novel about the London art world; a lost masterpiece discovered in a secondhand store even speaks to the reader. Hannah Rothschild is a trustee of the Tate Gallery and the chair of the National Gallery in London, so she knows her stuff! The Improbability of Love is s smart, well-written book and a must-read for art history buffs.”
Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art by Julian Barnes (Knopf; October 6, 2015)
“Man Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes has written essays on 17 artists and many of their paintings. Barnes’ lovely prose is accompanied by images of the artwork, including close-up details of some of the works, and one particular section of the book that I like is in the chapter on Gericault. Barnes explains the actual events depicted it the painting and then follows it with the very important details left out of the work, thereby giving the reader/viewer an entirely different perspective. Barnes is a true art lover and it shows in his writing.”