Reviews - What do customers think about Rubens: A Genius at Work?
Objective review Jun 12, 2008
Not the greatest Rubens book and not the worst, it is ok, has decent coverage of drawings and oil sketches....way,way, way, too many portraits....and way too too much mundane day to day slice of life text....more social than truly analytically coorelated to his genius.
Writing is good in some places and very mundane in others...
The great parts of the book are great and the bad parts are bad...more non-essential than bad...
It is probably more "Rubens: Lifestyle glimpses"...for most of it.
I dont know that the true technical details are there to really give you deep insight into "Genius at work".
The section on the Occult influence should have been a much longer section, with a lot more images...on how that came about...but again that could be a whole book...what there is in the book is a nice start and a great summary in a few pages.
The book could have had a lot more images and less but more concentrated text, with a better systematic approach to the factors that made Rubens a genius and not just a paint factory copy cat.
His brilliance was in his ability to synthesize, and improve. Some of that is covered.
I dont think enough was said about engravings and the influence and their role pre-Rubens and Post Rubens. Engravings were the main source of a lot of "Rubens Genius" and he was a really great cut and paste copycat with a twist, and he had access to a large number of engravings and was influenced by and influenced a large number of engravers....there is not a lot of that trace.
Tapestry is covered as well so that is a good addition.
The fact that it is a wide shotgun approach to his diversity is very nice.
There is not much on the impact of DeVos,Heemskerck, etc....nor the integration of Vasari to DeVos to Rubens style chain.
The point being that all the social lifestyle notes could have been dropped in favor of a more pictorial evolutionary analysis of the contributions to Rubens sense of composition....Portraits were beat to death and took up too much space sacrificing more complex compositional "genius topics"
As composition is the major root of his genius (as opposed to color, which is always what is superfically covered),...I dont think enough was said about the contextual relationship of his compostional skills to others in the same time frame nor was it covered in depth.
Rubens like Michaelangelo was great because if all he would have had was a lump of charcoal, the brilliance still would be there.
I would suggest if you like Rubens, buy the book, it is not a waste of money at all.
If you like the social aspects of his life then this is a great book for you.
It is more,... the book was on the right track , but was a hit or miss scattered effort. ... a diamond in the rough but certainly well beyond being coal....you wont be let down, only wishing there would have been more.