Three Selections by John Updike


John Updike’s art collection is three books of essays on his observations about pictures (and the occasional sculpture). Updike was a fervent museum and gallery goer, and wrote exhibition reviews for several publications, which are the basis for the Looking books.

Updike’s focus is on the twentieth and late-nineteenth centuries, American and European artists. The title Just Looking sets the tone. Updike does not regard himself as an art expert, so he “just looks” and describes what he sees. His power to see and skill at writing descriptions and his own interpretations are a welcome relief from much contemporary art criticism.

These books of essays do not constitute a collection in the ordinary sense, but for anyone who’s a collector, or thinking of becoming an art collector, or just interested in art, the Updike Lookings are a must read.

Three by John Updike: Just Looking: Essays on Art (Knopf, 1989); Still Looking: Essays on American Art (Knopf, 2005); Always Looking: Essays on Art (Knopf, 2012; posthumously published).

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