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Rendez-vous with Art

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  176 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Beginning with a fragment of yellow jasper—all that is left of the face of an Egyptian woman who lived 3,500 years ago—this book confronts the elusive questions: how, and why, do we look at art?

Philippe de Montebello and Martin Gayford talked in art galleries or churches or their own homes, and this book is structured around their journeys. But whether they were in the Lou
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by Thames Hudson (first published September 8th 2014)
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Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
This book is less about Art than it is about the museums where art is displayed. So, it asks the questions:

-- What factors go into accepting a price for a work of art?

-- "Does simply being in a city where the art was made make a difference?"

-- What is different about a painting, done centuries ago in natural light, and now on display in a museum's brightness?

-- Should art be kept in its place of origin (a colossal statue of a lion unearthed in northern Iraq, say) or shipped around the world to
Mary Ronan Drew
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Director of New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1977 to 2008, Philippe de Montebello, who was born a French count in Paris, is about as knowledgeable about the fine arts as anyone out there, and just as opinionated. I don't think I exaggerate much when I say he would have anyone who wishes to be admitted to his museum pursue a serious art history course and pass a difficult and lengthy quiz before being allowed to visit. He is emphatically not a democrat. He does not believe art muse ...more
Peter Tillman
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A witty, informative, leisurely and accessible book about art & art museums. If you read the two top-rated reviews here, you will have a good idea if the book is for you. Recommended to me by my wife, and we do have similar tastes ;-]

If you have access, here's an excellent professional review: (Paywalled. I'm happy to email a copy to non-subscribers)
" . . . a humane and engaging volume aimed squarely at the educated lay reader, a series of condensed and e
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Philippe de Montebello may be a bit old-school in terms of art historical theory, but the man has always made me laugh with his witty banter and way with words. When they are discussing the more commonly shown pieces of artwork it is a bit ho-hum, but I really enjoyed the book when they took in the lesser shown works. You can read about Michelangelo in any art history textbooks, but Bruyn the Elder - not so much. That's where this book shines - in the thoughtful forays into the lesser known work ...more
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-history
I love a good art book that is an experience in itself. The smokey blue cover caught my eye on the bookstore shelf, but its beautiful shade is not rendered authentically in the picture goodreads provides. The cover is creamy in texture like the thick vanilla colored pages. The paper choice lends itself to the illustrations, which are not smooth and glossy...they appear to have some depth as a result. The content was quite a treat as it consists of conversations of two prominent figures in the ar ...more
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
One of my most favorite pastimes is to walk through a museum with a friend, discussing the art, sharing our insights and impressions. Now, imagine that your friend is Philippe de Montebello, legendary art historian and director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for more than three decades. In Rendez-Vous with Art, Philippe de Montebello and art critic Martin Gayford walk through galleries, churches, and sites around the world, discussing art, museums, and collecting. While Montebello is an able ...more
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I actually think that both art lovers and art novices would enjoy this book. For the former, it's an opportunity to remember Mr. de Montebello's immense contribution to the art world and to be reminded of the important (if constantly shifting) role of museums in civic life. Art novices I think would enjoy the way in which he (and his interlocutor Martin Gayford) places key works of art in the context of their geographical and historical creation: how do we look at art not just in terms of aesthe ...more
Sep 06, 2014 added it
Shelves: 2014
Enjoyable. Like strolling through museum halls with two, very knowledgable, rich, uncles. But also leads you to look up images of the places and find out more about the mentioned artworks. Brought back memories of standing with those artworks in those places myself. And made mental notes to notice more next time I'm there. ...more
Mar 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, 2021
Rendez-vous with art is a series of conversations between Philip de Montebello, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and art critic Martin Gayford. The conversations are light and loosely structured. They mostly reflect on specific art works they observed together in great museums and the concept of museums themselves. While I can't say I learned a tremendous amount from the book I enjoyed the feeling of participating in serious, knowledgeable conversations about art and ...more
Ray LaManna
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a different type of art book...half art appreciation and half art history. And it is written by my favorite art connoisseur Philippe De Montebello, who was for 31 years the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

De Montebello comments on over 75 works of art from museums all over the world...his ideas are refreshing and challenging. If you want to delve deeper into what art means and says to us...this is the book for you.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Having my own small portal into the world of The Met and a brief moment of time having spoken with PdM, I was quite interested in this book. For me it raises questions about my own interpretations and experiences with works of art. I question what it means to be a sophisticated viewer, just as I question what it means to be a sophisticated listener. The questioning, leading my into greater depths... which is I suspect, the entire intent of the book.
Sue Dale
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book made me long for a wander through a gallery, any gallery, with a friend. COVID has meant looking at art from a distance, and what this book reinforces is that there is nothing to equate being present in front of the real thing. Philippe & Martin take us on a worldwide rendezvous with art, talking as friends, discussing aspects and contexts.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this read. A fascinating look at the minds of two long- time art lovers and their walks through museums around the world. If you love art on any level, this is worth your time.
“If we stand in front of a work of art twice, at least one party – the viewer or the subject - will be somewhat transformed on the second occasion. Works of art mutate through time, albeit slowly, as they are cleaned or ‘conserved’, or as their constituent materials age.

…We, the viewers, however, are even more fluctuating.”

It has been more than a month since I read this book. A friend found it through serendipity and something I said to her made her recommend this fascinating book. I am so glad
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received this book compliments of Thames & Huson through the Goodreads First Reads program.

The jacket quotes Philippe de Montebello saying that this book is about the experience of art and it raises issues the viewer might not consider when looking at a work. Montebello, the former director of the Met and the art critic Martin Gayford discuss these matters during trips to various European museums and the Met in New York.

How much does it matter that a work is no longer seen in the location for
Will Elliott
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
Whilst the works discussed are very beautiful, the undoubted star of this delightful book is Philippe de Montbello himself. As director of the Met for over 30 years (1977-2008), he is the longest serving head of a major museum and is a doyen of the art world. For anyone interested in art, his thoughts and ideas are certainly worth reading.

He and the art critic Martin Gayford meet up in New York and Europe when chance affords, visit prominent museums and discuss the things they see, as well wider
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
I'm a huge fan of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (one of my favorite places in the world, really), and I can't think of better company than Philippe de Montebello, the Met's former director, for a walk through some art museums. This book presents his musings about art, along with the thoughts of art critic Martin Gayford, and both raise interesting comments and questions about the role of museums and the experience of art - in museums and out of them. This is an interesting and thought-provoking ...more
Jan 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: art-book-club
An alternate proposal for this book's title was "The Art Museum: An Imperfect Construct". A more descriptive title than the one chosen because the focus did seem to me to be more about the drawbacks of viewing art in museums.

I found this book a bit repetitious and was disappointed in many of the descriptions (or lack) of the artworks. Repeatedly, the paint was described as creamy without much other elaboration.

I can't agree with the quote on the back cover that the book that "it's not a book ...
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
What a name dropper de Monetebello is! But for much of the book, I was able to ignore it, even almost be amused by it when it was so heavy it was almost satire, because the topic, the pieces of art discussed were of such interest. But then near the end of the book, a work from Africa was brought to his attention and he dismissed it and the whole continent's body of art with a more or less "whatever?"

This moves his self centered arrogance into ignorance.

How sad for him and for the artists from
Trish Graboske
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Two people who have spent their careers thinking and working with art comment thoughtfully on some big issues. How art is not just entertainment (page 59), how you should try to see what someone might see in "art" that you don't immediately get (page 62), the importance of natural light (page 88), viewing art takes work (page 180), museums holding the "patrimony" of other nations (page 205 and following). ...more
Warren Friedman
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book but I was disappointed that it didn't include any viewings and accompanying discussions about modern or contemporary art. (Martin Gayford, in discussion, alludes to Lucien Freud and once cites Gustav Richter as one of the great artists of the 20th century, but he and Philippe deMontebello only view "classical" and ancient art in this book.) ...more
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
How would you like to walk through great museums such as the Louvre, the Uffizi, the Mauritshuis and the Prado with two erudite and opinionated guides? Written as a dialogue between the two, along with some narrative by Gaynor, this illuminating discussion of how to look at art captured me from the first page.
Sep 21, 2014 added it
I received this as a giveaway. Thank you! It's a beautiful book of conversation, not wholly criticism or history of selected artworks. I was frustrated with the smallness, or compactness? of the pictures, but the tip-off of using a magnifying glass helped. Thanks again. ...more
Barbara Donsky
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved this insider take on the world of and clapped my hands in glee when I discovered that Phillipe de Montebello was no more impressed by the dark interior of the museum Quai Branly than I was. Vindication is sweet.
Hristina Lapatova
Oct 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I've read this year. Any art enthusiast will appreciate it - it is a serious book and yet it is so simple: two of the most influential art professionals of our time going in some of Europe's best casually talking about art. It is priceless ...more
Aug 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, art
This is a lovely book. A museum director and an art critic visit museums around the world together and have conversations about art and museums.
Nov 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-discipline
So much information about little-known places that hide precious gems. A pleasant read for every art world professional
Meghan Fahey
Dec 17, 2014 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the conversational style. Approachable and challenging simultaneously and nicely illustrated.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-related
good with popularization
F.J. Commelin
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
Very nice book about looking at art in galleries/musea.
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