You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Art Review

Tom Phillips’s brilliance on every page

NORTH ADAMS — Neither a novel, a poem, an artist’s book, or a graphic novel, Tom Phillips’s “A Humument,” on show at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, is a little bit of all these things and one thing incontrovertibly: a masterpiece.

It’s also, uncomfortably, a parasite. Sucking steadily at the life juices of an earlier attempt at art, a late-19th-century novel called “A Human Document” by W.H. Mallock, it has transformed its forgotten host page by page, edition by edition, into something far more imaginative and lasting.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week