Peter Schjeldahl’s Vivid, Unforgettable Prose

Jackson Arn at Art In America:

Even in December 2019, when he announced his disease in a long, devil-may-care New Yorker essay, he did it with a dynamite lede: “Lung cancer, rampant. No surprise.” The diagnosis wasn’t the only startling thing about these sentences: Schjeldahl was writing about his personal life for once, and doing so in the same chiseled prose in which he described Giacometti’s bronzes and Manet’s oils. No matter what his subject happened to be, he treated it as an invitation to write beautifully.

Schjeldahl was born in 1942 and grew up in North Dakota and Minnesota. He dropped out of college, and it shows: he had an autodidact’s distaste for teacher’s pets (in the Goya review quoted above, he says the exhibition “was conceived on the Planet of the Scholars, where every question is considered except ‘So what?’”). Poetry was his first literary love.

more here.