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"I am completely an elitist, in the cultural but emphatically not the social sense. I prefer the good to the bad, the articulate to the mumbling, the aesthetically developed to the merely primitive, and full to partial consciousness. I love the spectacle of skill, whether it's an expert gardener at work, or a good carpenter chopping dovetails...I don't think stupid or ill-read people are as good to be with as wise and fully literate ones. I would rather watch a great tennis player than a mediocre one...Consequently, most of the human race doesn't matter much to me, outside the normal and necessary frame of courtesy and the obligation to respect human rights. I see no reason to squirm around apologizing for this. I am, after all, a cultural critic, and my main job is to distinguish the good from the second-rate." Robert Hughes wrote with brutal honesty about art, architecture, culture, religion, and himself. He translated his passions-of which there were many, both positive and negative-brilliantly, convincingly, and with vitality and immediacy, always holding himself to the same rigorous standards of skill, authenticity, and significance that he did his subjects. There never was, and never will be again, a voice like this. In this volume, that voice rings clear through a gathering of some of his most unforgettable writings, culled from nine of his most widely read and important books. This selection shows his enormous range and gives us a uniquely cohesive view of both the critic and the man. Most revealing, and most thrilling for Hughes's legions of fans, are the never-before-published pages from his unfinished second volume of memoirs. These last writings show Robert Hughes at the height of his powers and can be read only with pleasure and a tinge of sadness that his extraordinary voice is no longer here to educate us as well as to clarify and define our world.

 

Details

ISBN: 9780307385994
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 688
Publication Date: 1 Apr 2017
Publisher: Random House USA Inc
Publication City, Country: New York, United States
Dimensions (cm): 20.3(H) x 13.4(L) x 3.7(W)
Weight (gm): 496

 

Reviews

"An eye-opener. [The Spectacle of Skill] contains some of the most nakedly emotional prose [Hughes] ever committed to paper." --The New York Times

"Hughes wrote many kinds of things in a career that spanned four decades . . . but his primary goal was always the same: to entertain, especially while he was educating. The Spectacle of Skill will serve as a generous reminder to all those familiar with Hughes's prose of just how dazzlingly he succeeded at that goal, and it will introduce newcomers to one of the great critical voices of the late 20th century." --The Christian Science Monitor

"[The Spectacle of Skill] echo[es] with an erudite authority that would seem impossible to obtain in our day, and a bombast that would be unbearably rude. The combination, conveyed in a clear and entertaining prose, will feel nostalgic even to those who come to know [Hughes] only by this book." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Art writing is rarely readable and hardly ever done well. Few did it better than Robert Hughes." --Chicago Tribune

"For anyone who wishes emphatically to know what is what in the here and now." --The Wall Street Journal

 

Author Biography

Robert Hughes, art critic of Time magazine and twice winner of the American College Art Association's F. J. Mather Award for distinguished criticism, is author of The Shock of the New, and of Heaven and Hell in Western Art. He is also author of the acclaimed Nothing if Not Critical, a work on Frank Auerbach; Barcelona, and Culture of Complaint, essays on the fraying of America. Robert Hughes died in August 2012.
The Spectacle of Skill: Selected Writings of Robert Hughes
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