Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Camille Paglia Storms the Library

Camille Paglia

A very welcoming and appreciative crowd showed up last night for the library's author event featuring Camille Paglia. Oh my. She hit the stage walking and talking.

She spoke to the audience and then answered questions. I don't think she took a breath for the entire 90 minutes she was on stage. 

She is intense, opinionated, and funny. At times I felt I was at a comedy club. The woman talks so fast and is so sincere, she sputters at times.

Ms. Paglia is an art historian, culture critic, and Salon columnist. She is a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She is the author of eight books.

In twenty-nine chapters, her newest book, Glittering Images, surveys the major art periods in history for the general audience. The handbook, as she called it, features accessible language and contains quality reproductions of the artworks she writes about.

"Survey courses in art and art history are being abandoned," she said. "I want people to know what great paintings are and how to look at a painting.  The art of painting has been overshadowed by other media. It has been marginalized."

She spoke of how much painting and art has meant to her in her life.  How today visual clutter is the norm. (Think poorly designed web sites and television screens screaming with images and people and ticker-tape headlines scrolling along the bottom.) About how difficult it is for an individual to have an quiet encounter with a work of art. (Think of all the tourists milling about Mona Lisa in the Louvre.)

Well, I have had my encounter with Ms. Paglia and she is a 'work of art.' I didn't stay to buy an autographed copy of the book. But I certainly found myself nodding in agreement with many of her opinions. She is quite brilliant. I think you could ask her to speak on any topic - say, sump water - and she would be able to hold forth in an informative and entertaining way.

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