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The Pursuit of Art

Travels, Encounters and Revelations

Martin Gayford


Critic, author and art pilgrim Martin Gayford recounts some of the many journeys he has made in the course of a lifetime in pursuit of art

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In the course of a career spent thinking and writing about art, the critic Martin Gayford has travelled all over the world in pursuit of first-hand encounters with art and artists. Gayford’s journeys, often to rather inaccessible places, involve frustrations and complications, but also serendipitous meetings and outcomes, which he makes as much part of each story as the final destination. Ever amusing, informative and self-deprecating, Gayford recounts trips to see Brancusi’s Endless Column in Romania, prehistoric cave art in France, the museum island of Naoshima in Japan, the Judd Foundation in Marfa, Texas, and an installation by Roni Horn in the far northwest of Iceland.

Other journeys are to meet artists – Robert Rauschenberg in New York, Marina Abramovic in Venice, Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris – or are made in the company of artists, such as a trip to Beijing with Gilbert & George. These encounters provide insights into the way artists approach and think about their art, and reveal the importance of their personal environment to their practice. They also affect Gayford’s own evolving ideas over a lifetime of passionate engagement with art. A perceptive and knowledgeable companion, Gayford shares the highs and lows of cultural travel, and makes a convincing case that, where art is concerned, only being there will do.

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'Gayford is a great travelling companion. Where art criticism can be pompous, wordy and jargon-filled, here he’s warm, honest, confiding, intelligent, yes, but never talking down to his reader'
Shiny New Books

'Martin Gayford is a perceptive and informed critic who has been writing about art for several decades and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject … Gayford’s light touch makes it a thumping good read'
The Artist

'An admirable book … one of [Gayford’s] talents is the ability to convey the essence of an artist’s work, a style or an art movement in clear, concise passages that contain no jargon'
Country Life

'A charming short book about [Gayford’s] peregrinations and how different contexts have affected his thinking about the art and the artists'
Michael Prodger’s Books of the Year, Sunday Times

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 21.6 x 13.5 cm

Extent: 192 pp

Illustrations: 54

Publication date: 19 September 2019

ISBN: 9780500094112

About the Author

Martin Gayford is art critic for The Spectator and the author of acclaimed books on Van Gogh, Constable and Michelangelo. He is the author of Man with a Blue Scarf, Rendez-vous with Art and A Bigger Message. He has collaborated with David Hockney on A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney and A History of Pictures, and has co-written a volume of travels and conversations with Philippe de Montebello: Rendez-vous with Art.