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The Boston Globe

Arts

Book Review

‘Always Looking: Essays on Art’ by John Updike

Art criticism can be a turgid, opaque realm, crammed with theory and void of wit and heart. The best critics write for a general audience, not the art audience, and they have a capacious sensibility that balances knowledge of history and theory with a fresh, organic appraisal of the work at hand.

So it is with John Updike, whose posthumous volume of art criticism, “Always Looking: Essays on Art,” edited by Christopher Carduff and selected from pieces written between 1990 and 2008, vividly gambols through three centuries, from John Singleton Copley to Richard Serra. It’s the novelist’s third book of art reviews, following “Just Looking” in 1989 and “Still Looking” in 2005.

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