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The Sweetness Of The Avisual Artist

from The Spectator UK

John McEwan on the new book by Peter Mann and Sargy Mann

This is the tribute of a child to a parent, especially commendable when the very concept of fatherhood is threatened; rarer still, the co-authors are themselves artists in their separate fields. Peter Mann is responsible for the pleasing design and photographs, and Sargy Mann has answered his son’s questions to provide an autobiographical text which largely concerns visual perception, ‘not at all straightforward even when you can see’, as Peter Mann says.

Jean Renoir’s Renoir, My Father is the prototype. Sargy Mann selected and discussed 27 paintings or series of paintings covering his career and Peter Mann has photographed them as they hang today in private houses. This novel idea is also indebted to Renoir, who told his son:

Jean Renoir's MY FATHERYou don’t look at a painting. You live with it … It becomes part of your life. It acts on you like a talisman. The museums are only a makeshift. How can you get excited over a picture with a dozen or so people around you, whispering asinine comments?

So the book is in praise of art as a cherished and beautiful, as opposed to a purely marketable, thing; a reminder of the sweetness pictures can add to life.

Sargy Mann inherited very short sight and astigmatism, had cataracts removed in 1973 when he was 36, lost the sight of his right eye through a retinal detachment in 1979. From 1987 the sight in his remaining eye was so poor he used a small telescope or monocular. Soon he also required a white stick.

[ click to read full article at The Spectator ]

Posted on June 20, 2008 by Editor

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