Art in Time
In these twenty lyric essays, Cole Swensen addresses a range of artists, from Agnes Varda to Robert Smithson to David Hockney, whose works recognize nature, not as the “other,” not as something out there, but as an intimate and active engagement.
Historically, landscape art has reinforced a sense of human power over nature, but in these twenty lyric essays Cole Swensen addresses a range of artists, from Agnes Varda to Robert Smithson to David Hockney, whose works recognize nature, not as the “other,” not as something out there, but as an intimate and active engagement, encouraging an increased sense of participation in, and reciprocal relationship with, the earth.
I cannot think of another writer who writes as precisely and insightfully as Cole Swensen about humans contemplating a landscape, and the perceptions and associations implied by the use of such terms as “vastness” and “timeless.” In the 20 poem-essays (or are they encyclopedia entries?) that make up Art in Time, Swensen writes about a wide range of singular figures: Robert Smithson, Agnes Varda, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Rosa Bonheur, Chaïm Soutine, Joan Jonas, Irving Petlin, and Renee Gladman. Brimming with fresh and precise readings, full of little known details and revelations, Art in Time is that rare book. You will want to bring it with you when walking in the woods, visiting a National Park, driving in the desert, or going to a museum. In these pages, you will discover insights into artists that you thought you knew and ones that you have never heard of before. You will begin thinking about landscapes differently.
Click here to read a poem from the book in Poetry Daily!