Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Shadows of a Hand: The Drawings of Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo is justly celebrated as a great man of letters, one of France and Europe's major writers, leader of the Romantics, his Notre-Dame de Paris and Les Miserables among the greatest works of literature. He is, however, considerably less renowned as a visual artist, yet he produced an extraordinary series of breathtaking drawings. His use of materials, and ambiguity between figure and form, challenge our conceptions of 19th-century art. Mysterious castles loom out of the haze, stormy landscapes are pierced by portentous light, grotesque creatures grin from crashing waves; half-recognizable forms emerge from experiments with lace impressions, folded paper and random stains of ink, coffee or soot. Hugo's drawings have been slow to capture public appreciation; he considered them to be a private enterprise and refused to exhibit them. It was only in the 20th century that they began to emerge from obscurity. The Surrealists, such as Breton and Ernst, discovered affinities with Hugo's works; they offer uncanny parallels with Abstract Expressionism. This book is the first in English to publish Hugo's artistic repertoire, and it provides a fascinating new dimension to our appreciation both of Hugo and of visual art. (Kirkus UK)

NC248.H86 A4 1998

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