Saturday, August 9, 2014

News of the happiest moment

The other day, looking at
James Merrill, the unbur-
dening making of art im-
pressed me as almost per-
fectly captured in his po-
em. This quality in the
happiest moment, as I think
of the conduct of art as be-
ing, cannot be portrayed to
us by punctilio, I admitted,
detached from taste as a hu-
man right. I share the glad
news of the arrival of the 
25th Anniversary edition of 
a volume of criticism, as a
gift preserving the happiest
moment from any imposition. 

    I reject categorically the
    assumption, widespread now
    among art historians, that
    visual styles almost inev-
    itably have some political
    or ideological import, fix-
    ed or otherwise. I believe
    that a work of art has a
    freestanding value. I insist
    on this as a matter of prin-


  Our evening's plans are
  reconciled. Our choice
  of Champagne, wafted up
  the slope of the flute,
  remains where it belongs.


Jed Perl
Paris Without End
  On French Art Since
  World War I
Arcade, 2014©

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