Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307267665, 320pp.
Publication Date: October 20, 2009
Few have even attempted to tackle Tiepolo's series of thirty-three bizarre and haunting etchings, the "Capricci" and the "Scherzi," but Roberto Calasso rises to the challenge, interpreting them as chapters in a dark narrative that contains the secret of Tiepolo's art. Blooming ephebes, female Satyrs, Oriental sages, owls, snakes: we will find them all, as well as Punchinello and Death, within the pages of this book, along with Venus, Time, Moses, numerous angels, Cleopatra, and Beatrice of Burgundy--a motley company always on the go.
Calasso makes clear that Tiepolo was more than a dazzling intermezzo in the history of painting. Rather, he represented a particular way of meeting the challenge of form: endowed with a fluid, seemingly effortless style, Tiepolo was the last incarnation of that peculiar Italian virtue "sprezzatura," the art of not seeming artful.
publisher of Adelphi. He is the author of "The Ruin of Kasch," "The marriage of Cadmus and Harmony," which was the winner of the Prix Veillon and the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, and "Ka."
“Calasso has written a brilliant, eccentric, provocative, annoying, and thoroughly splendid celebration of a great painter.” —John Banville, The New Republic
“The next best thing to visiting Europe and seeing the painter’s work . . . Calasso is one of the most demanding and intoxicating critics writing today.” —Los Angeles Times