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Mysteries of the Rectangle: Essays on Painting

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  151 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Bestselling novelist Siri Hustvedt's inspired collection of essays on painting is now available in paperback. In Mysteries of the Rectangle, Hustvedt concentrates her narrative gifts on the works of such masters as Francisco Goya, Jan Vermeer, Jean-Baptiste-Simon Chardin, Gerhard Richter, and Joan Mitchell. Through her own personal experiences, Hustvedt is able to reveal t ...more
Paperback, 204 pages
Published August 10th 2006 by Princeton Architectural Press (first published January 1st 2005)
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May 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I am far from an art expert, but I do enjoy a lot of it, and I enjoy it even more if I can read about it in the way that Hustvedt writes about it. Her fiction is full of art and artists, all seemingly authentic, and before this book came out, I'd also admired her essays on art in Yonder: Essays, one on Vermeer and Woman with a Pearl Necklace; another on still-life paintings: Both are reprinted here. Consequently, I was happy to see a whole book by Hustvedt devoted to essays on paintings.

She has
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What Siri Hustvedt sees in some works of art never ceases to amaze me. How she interprets visual metaphors, the use of light and shadow, perspective, closeness and distance in paintings, as well as edges of objects and contours is simply amazing. I wish all art had an explanation written by her as she is one of the most erudite writers I've read and delving into essays written by her is a challenging delight.
''I found the inversion of this image very moving. In it, tree and tree reflecte
Dec 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: artists, art critics
Recommended to Barb by: good reads member
A book can be read for its content and enjoyed. This book can also be read for its wonderful construction. The text is a bit small, but the layout, the quality of pages and well structured binding make the reading a pleasant physical experience.

Siri Hustvedt's generosity in sharing her interactions with the paintings creates a rewarding intellectual experience as well. Combining personal narrative with critical analysis of a handful of artists' works, the author reminds the reader of the joy to
Elena Sala
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, essays
Lovely essays on art, I love Hustvedt's original approach to great paintings. I think I will revisit this one soon!
Aug 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: artsy-fartsy
This is a tough one. Pretty hard to use words vis-à-vis paintings. In the author's own words: "...cryptic excess may be responsible for the language people use to talk about seeing art, as if an inanimate thing were endowed with an elusive, almost sacred power. In a culture flooded by facile images that race past us on a so heavily coded, so easily read that they ask nothing of us but our money--looking long and hard at a painting may allow us entry into the enigma of seeing is ...more
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
The writer speaks like an artist. Most of her ideas are not new, but her voice is unique. "A painting creates an illusion of an eternal present, a place where my eyes can rest as if the clock has magically stopped ticking."
She talks about her experiences with paintings by Goya, Morandi, Duccio, Giorione, Richter, Joan Mitchell, and more.
Jeneba Charkey
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Looking at art is a very intimate private activity for me and I rarely enjoy visiting a museum or gallery with even some of my closest friends. But reading this book was like strolling arm in arm in complete sync, if not always in agreement, with an intimate friend who knows your heart.
Dec 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-and-music
Hustvedt's prose is clean and easy to read while delving into interesting and deep analysis of not only the specific artists and paintings she is writing about, but also her own process and experiences of viewing art. She explicitly chooses not to discuss works of art in a clinical and detached way but rather she bravely shares the emotions she experienced from the art. This to me seems a much more authentic way of discussing art – too many critics or experts pretend to be completely unemotional ...more
Jul 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
best art history writing ever. serious.
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
a great from time to time pick up and read book.
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Hustvedt was born in Northfield, Minnesota. Her father Lloyd Hustvedt was a professor of Scandinavian literature, and her mother Ester Vegan emigrated from Norway at the age of thirty. She holds a B.A. in history from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University; her thesis on Charles Dickens was entitled Figures of Dust: A Reading of Our Mutual Friend.

Hustvedt has mainly made

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“In effect, painting is the still memory of [the artist's] human motion, and our individual responses to it depend on who we are, on our character, which underlines the simple truth that no person leaves himself behind in order to look at a painting.” 4 likes
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