November 11, 2008

Eric Karpeles: Paintings in Proust

Randy Kennedy wrote in the NY Times that long before Marcel Proust died in 1922, his novel about art and memory, In Search of Lost Time, was being dissected for wisdom on a stunning variety of topics. Painter Eric Karpeles's book, Paintings in Proust: A Visual Companion to In Search of Lost Time is the first to focus on the works of art that inspired the novel. "Mr. Karpeles has now helped translate the dreamlike visual passages of Proust back into the images that inspired them. His guidebook, just published by Thames & Hudson, makes up a kind of free-floating museum of the paintings, drawings and engravings that figure or are evoked in the novel. Even for those who have never scaled the 3,000 pages of Mount Proust, the book presents a lush coffee-table snapshot of the artistic spirit of Third Republic France as filtered through Proust’s keen sensibility, formed mostly in the Louvre, with excursions (real or imaginative) to Florence, Venice, New York and London.

“'This grew out of my own desire to be able to see these paintings in one place — and looking to see if such a book existed, I couldn’t find anything,' said Mr. Karpeles, who added that he had come across only a doctoral dissertation that focused on paintings in Proust and a book published in a small printing in Bogotá, Colombia, in the early 1990s with a number of black-and-white reproductions. 'If you can’t conjure up the visual analogy that Proust is making,' he said, 'then I think you lose many of the insights in the book.'" Check out the slide show of images included in the book.

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