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Nature and Culture
The Art of Joel Babb
Carl Little; Christopher Crosman, ed.; Bernd Heinrich, ed.; Anita Shreve, ed.

2013 • 132 pp. 79 color illus. 10 3/4 x 10"
Contemporary Art / Art - Single Artist / Painting

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“The dazzle of a Babb cityscape or landscape is that the viewer is able to see orders of magnitude more detail in his art than with the naked eye, a kind of brick-by-brick, leaf-by-leaf conjuring act. But the magic of a Babb cityscape or landscape is that he possesses the innate ability to 1) see with such clarity and 2) make manifest what he sees in colored oils. So much information rendered by hand is beyond nature and culture.”—

A breathtaking look at the realist world of Joel Babb

In an age of specialization it is amazing to find an artist who has mastered the complexities of painting both the urban landscape and the Maine wilderness. Joel Babb achieves all this with absolute clarity, attention to detail, and meticulous realism. His vision is very much of our time—a contemporary dialogue between nature and culture.

This first-ever overview of Joel Babb’s work offers a full complement of his major paintings created over the past several decades and a compelling account of Babb’s evolution as an artist by art critic Carl Little. Those who love to experience the world as we know it will be delighted by these works from an American master.

From the contributors:

“With his images of Boston, Babb takes his place alongside his contemporaries Richard Estes, Rackstraw Downes, and a handful of others as one of the foremost city painters of his time. His images of the New England landscape also belong in the pantheon of artists that stretches back to the Hudson River School in the nineteenth century.” —Carl Little

“Babb’s brushwork is akin to the technique of a great pianist who seemingly pulls the notes from the piano rather than pressing or pushing down on the keys.” —Christopher Crosman

“Babb’s finely detailed depictions of Boston, particularly those of the Back Bay extending from the Charles River to the John Hancock building, do for that city what Canaletto did for Venice. Beyond that first thrilling jolt that one is looking at something never seen before, there is the sensation of falling into the canvas with its three dimensional and inexhaustible beauty.” —Anita Shreve

“As the images in this book amply show, Babb is skilled to portray any object, scene, or thing, but I would argue that the one thing he portrays that naturally appeals to all people are scenes of nature. . . . His unique rendering of evocative nature scenes may become his greatest legacy.” —Bernd Heinrich

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements:

“Little, who lives in Maine and has made a career of writing about artists, does a masterful job in Nature & Culture of chronicling Babb’s development as an artist, but he may not appreciate Babb’s Boston paintings in the way that a resident of the city might. It’s Shreve who spells out the allure, describing Babb’s work as “not quite photo-realistic cityscapes” that offer a view of “not just the city as it precisely is, but rather the work of art that is Boston.”—Boston Globe

"Carl Little's new book showcases the stunning realism of the art of Joel Babb." —Portland Press Herald

CARL LITTLE is an art critic and author of many books. He lives and writes on Mount Desert Island, Maine.

Sun, 17 Jul 2016 10:26:48 -0500