Karpeles returns to discuss his new monograph of Józef Czapski
In conversation with Mark Danner
This stunning monograph, a long-overdue critical appraisal of Polish artist Józef Czapski arrives at a moment when the artist’s legacy is gaining new recognition. Within these pages, author Eric Karpeles conveys how making art was so enmeshed with Czapski’s way of seeing and being in the world that it was second nature.
Given that he lived into his ninety-seventh year, it’s no surprise that the artist has works dating from every decade of the twentieth century but the first. As witness to the tumultuous events of that century, he found in painting “a refuge and a salvation.”
Prolific as a painter, he was equally disciplined in recording the events of his life in pencil, ink, and watercolor in his journals. At a time when abstract art tended to dominate aesthetic discourse, he preferred to observe the world around him, to portray people going about their daily business. Some of his most compelling works depict theatergoers and art lovers doing what they do best–looking.
A fellow of the Czes?aw Mi?osz Institute at Claremont McKenna College, Eric Karpeles is a painter, writer, and translator. His comprehensive guide, Paintings in Proust, considers the intersection of literary and visual aesthetics in the work of the great French novelist. He is the author of Almost Nothing, a biography of Polish painter and writer Józef Czapski. Lost Time is his translation of Czapski’s lectures on Proust given in a Soviet prison camp, and An Apprenticeship of Looking is his monograph study of Czapski’s paintings and drawings.
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