Cover image for Conversations with a clown
Conversations with a clown
Welzenbach, Michael.
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New York, NY : Atlantic Monthly Press, [1991]

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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A grumpy art critic is approached by a peculiar old man in front of Picasso's famous painting of the acrobats, Les Saltimbanques. Corry Peters is annoyed. He is dreading the task of trying to write an overview of twentieth-century art for his publication's January 2000 issue and wants a few moments of peace. But the strangely familiar and magnetic gentleman soon has his full attention. He is Pierrot, the archetypal clown and subject of paintings by the likes of Watteau, Goya, Frans Hal, Daumier, and Cezanne. Pierrot regales Peters with art anecdotes full of passion, magic, and discipline from the past five centuries to relieve Peters' despair over the future of art in the new millennium. Welzenbach, an art critic himself, spins an enchanting story infused with witty and articulate discourses on the why and how of art. An imaginative, intelligent, and bold novel that will delight, instruct, and possi~bly annoy art lovers. ~--Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

A magical, entrancing fable about art's redemptive powers, this debut novel has as its central character Pierrot, the commedia dell'arte harlequin later painted by artists from Watteau to Picasso. Now a ``weird old guy'' living in New York City's East Village under the name Gilles Pedrolino, the arch clown befriends jaded art critic Corey Peters, the story's narrator, and reminds him what great art is all about. Pierrot reminisces on the good old times with his paramour/muse Colombina, and his pals Modigliani, Goya, Mary Cassatt and ``his highness Picasso.'' Through time-travel, Peters and the pale mime visit the Japanese renegade artist Hokusai. As a jeremiad on a contemporary art world beholden to corporate-molded tastes and trendy fashions, the parable is tedious and predictable, even if on-target. As a meditation on art's truth and purpose, it soars. Welzenbach, an art critic, offers eloquent statements about the eternal feminine, the impulse to make art, government censorship and much else. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This novel of ideas is a dialog between art critic Corry Peters and harlequin Pierrot, who, having being around for the past 500 years, has some definite opinions on the nature of art. Welzenbach tries more than most would dare in a first novel--time travel, magic boxes, conversations that last whole chapters--but manages to pull it off. There's real life here too: Modigliani's agonized last days, two harlequins fighting over a muse, and Corry's Sunday deadline for an art wrap-up of the 20th century. The author's passion for his subject shines through and keeps one turning the pages. Pierrot, the knowledgeable clown painted by Goya, Picasso, Cassatt, and countless others, makes a wonderful Scheherazade . Recommended-- Doris Lynch, Oakland P.L., Cal. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.