This amazing book about
the art critic Robert Hughes (photo on the right from The Guardian), written by a friend of his from
university days, is well worth reading. It is beautifully written and
gives an extremely perceptive picture of both the man and the critic.
Riemer (on the left - photo from auslit.com) sees the education Hughes received at the hands of the Jesuits
in Sydney as the creative force behind Hughes's international success
not only as a critic but also as a person who deeply and accurately
understood art and its place in society. Hughes himself outwardly
rejected Catholicism, but it was actually the discipline of that
religion that gave him the insights and the understandings that
eventually propelled him into the limelight.
knowledge and power of analysis allowed him to see what others around
him failed to grasp, be it the death of modernism in America or
Australia's cultural emptiness. As Riemer writes: Though it is never
stated explicitly, the prevailing impression left behind by Hughes's
record of his return to Australia is of a cultural and social
emptiness, akin to the emptiness of the great open spaces, but
without their spiritual consolation.
Hughes may have rejected
conventional, traditional religion but he was very aware, no doubt
because of those early years with the Jesuits that, in the end, '...
art and religion are the same thing.'.