MixedThe New York Times Book Review[Giorgio Vasari’s] life was as remarkable as that of any of those Renaissance masters whose adventures he chronicled. Although the vignettes he related were notoriously untrustworthy, you can choose to be generous and contemplate the thousands of facts and critical opinions he managed to get right. Ingrid Rowland, a prominent scholar of Renaissance art and history, and her fellow writer and historian Noah Charney, wear their erudition lightly in their gracefully written biography … Astoundingly, as Rowland and Charney make clear, no one before Vasari had written a series of artist biographies. There were lives of poets, lives of philosophers; there were rollicking lives of depraved rulers of the Roman Empire. But those subjects belonged to the upper classes … The biography as a whole settles for breeziness and even glibness when close analysis is needed.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...an engaging and authoritative portrait of the aged artist and his travails ... The Monet who emerges from King’s pages is a sympathetic and vivid character — less the wizened patriarch of French Impressionism than a crotchety septuagenarian afflicted with toothaches ... The friendship between Monet and Clemenceau amounts to its own fascinating story and resembles an odd-couple comedy ... The book is short on analysis and fails to definitively explain the role played by Monet’s illness in the development of his late style. Nonetheless, Mad Enchantment offers a moving portrait of the artist as an old man.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewOne is sorry that Barnes has declined to give the 86-year-old Oldenburg — and American art generally — the benefit of his normally searching gaze. Instead of Keeping an Eye Open to cite his sly title, he might try keeping both eyes open.