TJ Clark: art writing that doesn’t suck


TJ Clark’s absorbing book takes the form of a diary and, like all published diaries, it frees the author to write in many genres at once. He began it as a way of simply recording his impressions of two paintings by Poussin, Landscape With a Man Killed by a Snake and Landscape With a Calm, that were hanging facing each other at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles when he was there for what he calls ‘a six-month stint’ in January 2000. He had arrived at the Getty not quite knowing what to do with himself and, after settling in, went ‘in search of several paintings’ in the Getty collection, one of which was Poussin’s Landscape With a Calm – ‘Nothing special was in my mind. I was just looking.’ . . .

It is not incidental that at a time when there is more visual art than ever before, most writing about the visual arts is either mind-numbingly pretentious and cliquey or boringly descriptive and without vision. Clark’s book could not be more timely.

more from The Guardian Unlimited here.