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Common Knowledge 9.1 (2003) 167
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Louis Marin, Sublime Poussin, trans. Catherine Porter (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999), 223 pp.
Anthony Blunt's once canonical Nicolas Poussin (1967) has recently been supplanted by the results of novel interpretive approaches. Judith Bernstock and Sheila McTighe link Poussin to French history; Denis Mahon and Timothy J. Standring present new attributions; Elizabeth Cropper and Charles Dempsey offer novel iconographic accounts. Louis Marin's semiotic essays compare and contrast conflicting descriptions of some history paintings, comment on Erwin Panofsky's accounts of arcadia, discuss Poussin's sublime landscapes, and give very close readings of the two self-portraits. Venus and Adonis (Caen, Musée des Beaux-Arts), writes Marin in a characteristic passage, "puts on stage and into figures its inexhaustible and calm offering to the gaze." His mandarin prose, as foreign to our age of mass culture as Poussin's paintings, seems as self-sufficient as the strangely inaccessible art it so beautifully describes.
David Carrierhas three books forthcoming: Rosalind Krauss and American Philosophical Art Criticism, Writing about Visual Art, and Sean Scully. He is Champney Family Professor at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art.