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In Pictures & Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings (Routledge, 2001), James Elkins, MFA'84, AM'84, PhD'89, associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, examines the emotions that paintings inspire, hoping to "capture the frames of mind that have led people to cry." He enumerates some of the reasons-from religious devotion to reasons they can't put into words-that people have cried.

One group of viewers, he finds, are seemingly immune to the tear-provoking power of art. In a chapter titled "The Ivory Tower of Tearlessness," Elkins shares letters from art historians responding to his question of whether they have ever cried in front of a painting-the majority of whom said no. He also looks at whether studying art distances art historians from the subject they study. In an appendix, Elkins includes other letters he received during the course of researching the book which he solicited via journals and newspapers. And, yes, many people have cried-whether at Goya's 3 May 1808 or René Magritte's Portrait of Madame Récamier.
- Q.J.



  FEBRUARY 2002

  > > Volume 94, Number 3


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