The Unfinished Painting


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Nico Van Hout & Paul Huvenne

Hardcover | 26 x 2.5 x 32.5 cm | 224 pp

Ludion | 2012 | 9789461300607

An ambitious survey of works of art from the 15th till the 20th century by artists including Van Eyck, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rubens, David, Manet, Cézanne, Matisse and Mondrian that have remained deliberately or unintentionally unfinished, and that are usually marginalised in traditional art history.

They remain incomplete for various reasons: illness or death of the artist; political turmoil; disagreements with the commissioner or dissatisfaction with the artistic result. However, from the 16th century onwards, artists started to use the non-finito as a tool of expression. Unfinished pictures therefore gained a certain reputation in the romantic era, when they were thought to offer the spectator a glimpse of the process of artistic genius. In the 20th century, these paintings were discovered by cubists, expressionists and abstract painters who were fascinated by their rough and incoherent appearance, often unaware of their history.

This book follows the creative process of some fifty such paintings, offering a new perspective on the history of Western Art.

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