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The End

Artists’ Late and Last Works

When is a work of art finished? Can it be complete in a mental sense? Who decides? And can we tell which work is an artist’s last? In this highly original and wide-ranging study, Carel Blotkamp explores the concept and manifestations of “the end” in art.

From the idea of a mortal end to the notion of completeness, Blotkamp describes a fascinating array of historical facts and myths as well as novels centered on art and artists. He examines the value of the last works of artists, considering how a particular end came about and how that might affect our perception of the work. He also explores the difference in the styles of artists in old age, compares unfinished last works with those completed by another’s hand, and uncovers the mythology inherent in the reception of last works, taking the last works of Raphael and Mondrian as prime examples. For students, artists, and art enthusiasts looking for a new perspective on modern art, The End is the perfect place to start.

248 pages | 24 color plates, 36 halftones | 6 x 8 1/4

Art: Art--General Studies

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"Blotkamp discerns late style in Claude Monet, Pierre Bonnard, Max Beckmann, Alberto Giacometti, Lucian Freud, and Louise Bourgeois—artists who kept innovating over long lives. Others—Blotkamp suggests Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst—seem either to exhaust themselves or to veer from the aerie of lateness into the lower realms of the predictable, old-fashioned, and, perish the thought, commercial. . . . Late style may be the visual expression of what it feels like to face the end—or it may be nothing more than a critic’s fantasy, a by-product of our hunger for hidden meanings, narrative closure, and valedictory statements. More likely, it is both at once: the subjective expression of an artist, viewed subjectively."

Max Norman | New Yorker

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