Two men discuss and evaluate masterpieces displayed in the major art museums of Western Europe. One is tempted to compare the format with the travels of Dr. Johnson and his chronicler James Boswell. Rendez-vous with Art draws together Philippe de Montebello, who served as director of the New York’s Metropolitan Museum for 31 years, and Martin Gayford, author and art critic. The pages of their dialogue are interspersed with beautiful quality images of the paintings they highlight. Both select personal favorites as their visits include the Louvre and Madrid’s Prado, the National Gallery and the Wallace Collection in London.
When not touring the galleries, they meet across the Atlantic on Skype, their conversations ranging from art and artists, to advances in technique and the cultural settings. Such an ambitious book had, of course, the potential for being pretentious and pedantic, but it escapes this fate. De Montebello is disarming, and his long interaction with the art world allows him to share his admiration rather than boast his remarkable knowledge. No less, Gayford invites the former director’s comments and contributes complementary views, even mild contradictions.
The discussions are witty as well as erudite, and the book invites readers to participate vicariously and thoroughly enjoy the experience.
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