A remarkable, heartfelt, beautifully written analysis of the late work of 19 major artists that Max Porter describes as ‘completely and utterly marvellous’.
‘Painting … exists and exults in immortal thoughts’ William Blake
In 2020, as the spread of Covid-19 causes pandemonium worldwide, an elderly artist returns to his childhood home to watch the transcendent beauty of the seasons and reflect on the final work of the artists he most admires. It seems to him that in their final art works – their late style – that they have something remarkable in common. This has more to do with intuition and memory than with rationality or reason and comes from trying to write about painting itself.
Immortal Thoughts: Late Style in a Time of Plague is an anthology of these reflections. In this personal and moving account, nineteen short essays on artists are interspersed with short accounts of the cataclysmic global progress of the disease in poignant contrast to the beauty of the seasons in the isolated house and garden, narrative strands that are closely intertwined. From Cézanne’s last watercolours to Michelangelo’s final five drawings, Rembrandt and suffering to Gwen John and absence, Christopher Neve dwells on artists’ late ideas, memory, risk, handling and places, in the terrible context of Time and mortality.
As much art history as a discussion of great art in the context of the Dance of Death, Neve writes with renewed passion about Bonnard, Michelangelo, Morandi, Poussin, Soutine and many others in his distinctive style.