- Purchase/rental options available:
A sequel to my 1995 book, Unpainted to the Last: Moby-Dick and Twentieth-Century Art, this essay examines American and international art created in response to the novel from 1995 to 2018. Beginning with the numerous transformations of Moby-Dick—the whole book, single chapters, or letters—into works of art, I then consider recent illustrated editions, including children's books, comic books, and entire volumes. Contemporary artists have responded prolifically to the White Whale as "the ungraspable phantom of life" through a variety of realistic and abstract forms as well as through a diversity of media new to visual renderings of Melville's book. I take up the work of numerous Moby-Dick artists who, in recent decades, have interpreted Melville's story from personal, psychological, political, environmental, and feminist perspectives. In the last section, I examine four contemporary artists—Robert Del Tredici, Aileen Callahan, Mark Milloff, and Matt Kish—who have dedicated much of their artistic careers to interpreting Moby-Dick.