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'Art'

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The Tony Award-winning play that focuses on the meaning of art (in the form of a solid white painting) as well as the meaning of friendship, to both the man who bought the painting and the two friends who come to see it."


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The Tony Award-winning play that focuses on the meaning of art (in the form of a solid white painting) as well as the meaning of friendship, to both the man who bought the painting and the two friends who come to see it."

30 review for 'Art'

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cecily

    Friendship and Honesty Think of your oldest, closest friends: the shared experiences and interests that your friendship is rooted in, and the unspoken understanding, support, and private jokes that nurture it. These friends are the background of your life, but the foreground, too: peaks of joy, troughs of sorrow, advice, companionship, affectionate joshing, heated debates... Now take a step back and search for the little elephants in the room of your friendship. The trivial things that Friendship and Honesty Think of your oldest, closest friends: the shared experiences and interests that your friendship is rooted in, and the unspoken understanding, support, and private jokes that nurture it. These friends are the background of your life, but the foreground, too: peaks of joy, troughs of sorrow, advice, companionship, affectionate joshing, heated debates... Now take a step back and search for the little elephants in the room of your friendship. The trivial things that irritate, but which you ignore without the need to forgive. Not the casual things you can - and do - tease them about (they’re part of your bond), but the darker things that would undermine a weaker friendship. What would happen if those thoughts were exposed? Are strong relationships based on honesty, or are white lies of omission necessary too? The little boy who declared the emperor was naked had nothing to lose; with our most intimate friends, everything is at stake. As TS Eliot wrote, “Unreal friendship may turn to real. But real friendship, once ended, cannot be mended.” That is the plot of Art. The context, and the bone of contention, is one character’s huge investment in a minimalist modern painting, and how that affects the longstanding, three-way friendship of Serge, Yvan and Marc. It is a painting with a white background and a few white diagonal lines. I was reminded of this Miro, of three white panels, each with a single (black) wiggly line - none of which touch the edge. It took two or three years of sketches for him to get it just right: One character is the arguably pretentious buyer, one is brazenly honest (calling the picture “shit”), and the other is the peacemaker who runs the risk of seeming two-faced. As Mark (with a K) asks in his excellent review (HERE), which character are you? Me? I’m Yvan. Comedy… or Tragedy? The original London production won a Laurence Olivier award for comedy, but in her acceptance speech, Reza joked that she thought she’d written a tragedy. It is both. So What is Art? I’ve discused that question in my review of Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That, HERE. For me, it’s about intention (to provoke a reaction) and relationship (the audience who react). Seeking Meaning and Purpose “Under the white clouds, snow is falling. You can’t see the white clouds, or the snow. Or the cold, or the white glow of the earth.” I’m reminded of almost the opposite: an old Rowan Atkinson sketch in which Sir Marcus Browning, M.P, refers to “the blind man, in the dark room, looking for a black cat… that isn't there.” That sketch also includes the memorable near-tongue-twister, “Purpose is what we’re striving for. We must have purpose. We mustn’t be purposeless. We mustn’t exhibit purposenessless. We must be purposelessnessless.” Seeking purpose can open us to ridicule, but it’s better than the tragedy of having nothing to aspire to. Image sources Three children walking off together: http://comps.canstockphoto.com/can-st... Four wise monkeys (hear, see, speak, and do no evil): https://redhawk500.files.wordpress.co... Jean Miro’s Painting of a white background for the cell of a recluse: http://www.creationspot.com/wp-conten...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    L'Art = Art, Yasmina Reza 'Art' is a French-language play by Yasmina Reza that premiered on 28 October 1994 at Comédie des Champs-Élysées in Paris. The English-language adaptation, translated by Christopher Hampton, opened in London's West End on 15 October 1996, starring Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Ken Stott, produced by David Pugh and Sean Connery, running for eight years. The story revolves around three upper middle class friends—Serge, Marc and Yvan—who find their previously solid 15-year L'Art = Art, Yasmina Reza 'Art' is a French-language play by Yasmina Reza that premiered on 28 October 1994 at Comédie des Champs-Élysées in Paris. The English-language adaptation, translated by Christopher Hampton, opened in London's West End on 15 October 1996, starring Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Ken Stott, produced by David Pugh and Sean Connery, running for eight years. The story revolves around three upper middle class friends—Serge, Marc and Yvan—who find their previously solid 15-year friendship on shaky ground when Serge buys an expensive painting. The canvas is white, with a few white lines, and highly valued among Serge's current circle of peers for ambiguous reasons. Serge is proud of his 200,000 franc acquisition, fully expecting the approval of his friends. However, Marc openly tries to convey his bemusement to Serge over his investment, while privately being bewildered at the purchase's implications and Serge's increasing dismissal. He goes to Yvan's apartment to discuss the matter, finding him searching frantically for a felt-tipped permanent marker. ... تاریخ نخستین خوانش: پانزدهم ماه آگوست سال 2000 میلادی عنوان: هنر؛ نویسنده: یاسمینا رضا؛ مترجم: داریوش مودبیان؛ ویراستار: پوپک راد؛ تهران، امیرخانی، 1378؛ در 121 ص؛ شابک: 9649213945؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، قاب، 1389؛ شابک: 9789647798112؛ موضوع: نمایشنامه از نویسندگان فرانسوی قرن 20 م مترجم: مهرنوش بهبودی؛ عباس کیارستمی؛ تهران، ماه ریز، 1378؛ در 87 ص؛ شابک: 9649214747؛ چاپ دوم 1380؛ هوشنگ حسامی و سحر داوری نیز این نمایشنامه را به همراه نمایشنامه مرد اتفاقی در سال 1382 هجری خورشیدی در 124 ص، در انتشارات تجربه منتشر کرده اند. ا. شربیانی

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mark Hebwood

    This only takes about an hour or so to read, and it is great fun. There are only three characters, Marc, Serge, and Yvan, and they spend the entire time bickering like an old married couple. To the characters, every word has a multitude of subtexts, hides a variety of insults and slights, expresses sarcasm and innuendo, real or imagined. Yes, it is possible to use the play as a prompt to think about modern art, and decide for yourself whether you side with Marc and think it is "shit", or with This only takes about an hour or so to read, and it is great fun. There are only three characters, Marc, Serge, and Yvan, and they spend the entire time bickering like an old married couple. To the characters, every word has a multitude of subtexts, hides a variety of insults and slights, expresses sarcasm and innuendo, real or imagined. Yes, it is possible to use the play as a prompt to think about modern art, and decide for yourself whether you side with Marc and think it is "shit", or with Serge who likes it, or with Yvan who doesent really have an opinion at all. But it's not about art, I don't think. It is about three friends who, over 15 years, have learnt to dislike some of the character traits of the others that they see as shortcomings, and who finally bring their differences out into the open in an explosive encounter. Amusingly, halfway through the play, I was asking myself who I am most like. I think the answer is I am a blend between Marc and Serge. I can tell you this is not a flattering insight... As a bit of fun, for those of you who have read it (or seen it performed), you may ask yourself what "Art"-character are you most like? But be warned, whatever the answer, it wont be a pleasant insight, unless the answer is "none".

  4. 4 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    I only read this, then I saw a bit of a French production on Youtube and realised it was a comedy, aha!! I don't really get the art of the theatre much. Some people say masterpiece, I say upper class people bickering by repeating each other. This candle says you have a negative world view- A negative world view?- A negative world view!- That candle doesn't say I have a negative world view omg who cares. (made this bit up obvs) But perhaps that's just one more level the play works on XD

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    I love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love this play, have since I first saw. Every time I see a white painting, I laughed. This audio version is wonderful and will have people looking at you as you burst into laughter. Truth about friendships and art. This audio includes talks with translator and actors. Brillant!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Deirdre

    Many of the negative reviews here seem to have come from people who have never seen the play performed. I don't know how I'd have reacted to the script if I'd read it before seeing the play in performance but I bought the text the first time I saw it with the original London cast of Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Ken Stott. It was truly one of the greatest evenings I've spent in the theatre. I saw the play twice more with fresh casts each time and whilst the third casting wasn't quite up to Many of the negative reviews here seem to have come from people who have never seen the play performed. I don't know how I'd have reacted to the script if I'd read it before seeing the play in performance but I bought the text the first time I saw it with the original London cast of Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Ken Stott. It was truly one of the greatest evenings I've spent in the theatre. I saw the play twice more with fresh casts each time and whilst the third casting wasn't quite up to the standard set by the first, all performances were enjoyable and each brought out slightly different things from the play. It is such a thrill to see something that engages the audience and requires it to actually think rather than just wash over it. I loved the play's dual issues: the nature of art and the dynamics of friendship. I feel so sorry for those who have failed to appreciate this play and all I can suggest is that they go see a good production with a great cast.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sookie

    ..... when I gush over Kandinsky and my mom says "Its just blobs and color patches and squiggly lines...."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    Amusing play that on the surface is about whether a painting which is completely white can be considered art but underneath is about the friendship between 3 men. This play is best when viewed (as I was lucky enough to do several years ago); some of the humor may not come through in the print edition. In this full cast recording of a live performance of the play, there were some places when the audience laughs but the reason is not clear to the listener.

  9. 4 out of 5

    leynes

    Oh, Yasmina, my darling child, I definitely need to read more books from you. Art isn't nearly as good as Le Dieu du Carnage but much better than Trois Versions de la Vie. However, all three plays have their premise in common: showcasing the nasty side of humanity by letting personalities clash and chaos reign. Yasmina Reza is really the queen of creating realistic scenarios that escalade quickly, the tension that unloads every time her characters quarrel is perceptible; it's easy to get sucked Oh, Yasmina, my darling child, I definitely need to read more books from you. Art isn't nearly as good as Le Dieu du Carnage but much better than Trois Versions de la Vie. However, all three plays have their premise in common: showcasing the nasty side of humanity by letting personalities clash and chaos reign. Yasmina Reza is really the queen of creating realistic scenarios that escalade quickly, the tension that unloads every time her characters quarrel is perceptible; it's easy to get sucked into the situation and reflect on your own life and friendships. Set in Paris, the story revolves around three friends—Serge, Marc and Yvan—who find their previously solid 15-year friendship on shaky ground when Serge buys an expensive painting. The canvas is white, with a few white lines. While Serge is proud of his 200,000 franc acquisition, fully expecting the approval of his friends, Marc scornfully describes it as "a piece of white shit"; but is it the painting that offends him, or the uncharacteristic independence of thought that the purchase reveals in Serge? For the insecure Yvan, burdened by the problems of his impending doom (aka his wedding) where he is stuck in an insoluble problem and his dissatisfaction at his job as a stationery salesman, their friendship is his sanctuary, but his attempts at peace-making backfire. Eager to please he laughs about the painting with Marc but tells Serge he likes it. Pulled into the disagreement, his vacillations fuel the blazing row. Lines are drawn and they square off over the canvas, using it as an excuse to relentlessly batter one another over various failures. As their arguments become less theoretical and more personal, they border on destroying their friendship. Art seems to be Reza's most realistic portrayal of human relationships. I'm not ashamed to admit that I found myself and my relationships to some of my friends in that piece. Friendships are hard, man, especially ones between three people where it's always hard to keep a good and healthy balance. Some of those dialogues could have actually sprung directly from conversations that I had with my own friends (albeit in a different context, of course), especially the silent communication between two while a third is left out, or the shift in attitude and conduct in relation to which friend one is speaking to. Nonetheless, Art isn't as brilliant as Le Dieu du Carnage as it's written a lot more clumsily. You can really tell that Reza envisioned it as a stage production (and it'll probably be more effective as that), especially the mini-monologues that intersperse the play are distracting and seem unnatural in the written text. As usual, Reza blesses us with moments of scathing satire but overall there were far and few between and so it's just not as funny as Carnage. Additionally, I found the ending to be quite predictable, albeit it was a good one. ;)

  10. 5 out of 5

    James (The Serial Reader)

    Sharp. Complex. What seems to be an issue relating to the direction that modern art is taking runs deeper in the tangled dependencies of toxic friendships. The ending was a little too neat, though. Marc's admissions close to the end of the play don't end up having a significant impact upon his friendship with Serge, when I would imagine that realising that a friendship was built around power and control rather than commonality and sincerity would be fairly problematic. But perhaps Reza is Sharp. Complex. What seems to be an issue relating to the direction that modern art is taking runs deeper in the tangled dependencies of toxic friendships. The ending was a little too neat, though. Marc's admissions close to the end of the play don't end up having a significant impact upon his friendship with Serge, when I would imagine that realising that a friendship was built around power and control rather than commonality and sincerity would be fairly problematic. But perhaps Reza is showing only a temporary reconciliation, just as the marker that is used to deface Serge's painting can be erased with white spirit and stain remover.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kenny

    Somehow, “ART” escaped my reading list for all these years. I remember when it came out and the wonderful things I’d heard about it, but I never made to Serge’s apartment. But reading it now, so many years after it appeared made me appreciate it all the more. My perspective has changed over the years. Now, I understand all three men, and I can relate to each one of them. I saw parts of each of them in myself. I understood. Art raises a whole series of unresolved questions about modern art. Serge Somehow, “ART” escaped my reading list for all these years. I remember when it came out and the wonderful things I’d heard about it, but I never made to Serge’s apartment. But reading it now, so many years after it appeared made me appreciate it all the more. My perspective has changed over the years. Now, I understand all three men, and I can relate to each one of them. I saw parts of each of them in myself. I understood. Art raises a whole series of unresolved questions about modern art. Serge buys an apparently pure white canvas by a fashionable artist for 200,000 francs. His old chum, Marc, think it’s a piece of hud. Yves, their common friend, tries to reconcile their views and only succeeds in antagonizing both of them. Reza clearly asks whether aesthetics is now inextricably confused with market value: when we read that a painting has been sold for countless millions in the auction room, do we somehow rate it more highly? Reza also explores the connection between taste and friendship. Is it possible to enjoy a real relationship with someone whose views on art, books, or theatre for that matter, are radically different from our own? If you embrace modernism, and I’m a traditionalist – as happens with Serge and Marc – is there any real foundation for friendship? ART raises one of drama’s eternal questions: how much truth and honesty human beings can stand. The play starts with Marc bluntly spitting out his views: it ends with Serge telling a necessary lie in order to preserve their relationship. Reza is examining whether private relationships and public affairs depend upon a certain skilful hypocrisy. Reza’s point is that we only continue to function as social beings by playing the accepted rules of the game.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ray LaManna

    How would YOU feel if your best friend bought a painting of total white for $200,000? This play brings out the deep feelings among three friends which this purchase precipitated. The play is both comic and profound at the same time...and it's a translation from the French as well!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pink

    This is a play I'd probably enjoy watching. As it was, I read the text knowing nothing and I was pleasantly surprised. It gave me a few laughs, while giving me something deeper to think about. Not just about modern art, but about how we portray ourselves to our friends and in turn, how they see us. How would you react if a friend you knew well bought an expensive artwork that you found preposterous? Would you laugh? Compliment them on their purchase? Think they'd lost their mind? Maybe all of This is a play I'd probably enjoy watching. As it was, I read the text knowing nothing and I was pleasantly surprised. It gave me a few laughs, while giving me something deeper to think about. Not just about modern art, but about how we portray ourselves to our friends and in turn, how they see us. How would you react if a friend you knew well bought an expensive artwork that you found preposterous? Would you laugh? Compliment them on their purchase? Think they'd lost their mind? Maybe all of the above, but how you respond could shape your friendship in ways that were unforeseeable.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Judine

    I found this to be a quick, delightful read. The banter between the three men seemed natural and well-paced. I also thought the breaking of the fourth wall was handled very smoothly and effectively. That said, most of the swearing was superfluous, and that really put me off.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    "Art" is a play that is about many things; however I don't believe that it is about art and artists. Rather those are the devices that playwright Yasmina Reza uses to develop her themes in this text. "Art" is a work about the subjective nature of human relationships, friendship in particular. This three character play is a quick read, and a work that I think needs to be revisited a few times before one can really sink their teeth into it. The power of this play is to be found in the myriad of "Art" is a play that is about many things; however I don't believe that it is about art and artists. Rather those are the devices that playwright Yasmina Reza uses to develop her themes in this text. "Art" is a work about the subjective nature of human relationships, friendship in particular. This three character play is a quick read, and a work that I think needs to be revisited a few times before one can really sink their teeth into it. The power of this play is to be found in the myriad of ways that we recognize ourselves and some of our relationships in its characters. When one looks at long friendships we see that there are so many implied understandings that those relationships consist of, and most strain in long term relationships happens when one, or more, of those standings are violated. In the case of this play fault lines in the friendship between Marc and Serge (the combatants of the play's main conflict) are made larger when Serge buys a painting that destroys the idea of him that Marc has projected as his image of Serge for so long. What long term friendship has not been destroyed, or ultimately strengthened, by such an encounter? The text has some wonderfully funny moments, especially in the character of Yvan who is a little neurotic and overwhelmed by the intellectual capacities of Serge and Marc. I also think Yvan is the character that we come to understand the most, although he seems secondary to the other two. I would see the play professionally done, and then read it a month or so later. I think one can get a lot out of the experience in approaching it in this way. "Art" has a lot to give, but it does not give it up easily. It is not difficult to "miss the forest for the trees" with this text. The play asks us if we are authentic people, or just the projections our friends want us to be. It is a good question and the great strength of "Art" is that it probes this question in an interesting manner.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gareth

    When Serge spends a fortune on a piece of modern art, his friend Marc is horrified and tells him so. Then Marc goes to their mutual friend Yvan to gain his support, only for Yvan to sympathise with Serge. Over the course of an evening, the three men's discussion becomes a war zone as everyone reveals long buried resentments and fears. A piece of pure theatre that wouldn't work as well in any other medium. It is an interesting little meditation on friendship, especially male friends. How much do When Serge spends a fortune on a piece of modern art, his friend Marc is horrified and tells him so. Then Marc goes to their mutual friend Yvan to gain his support, only for Yvan to sympathise with Serge. Over the course of an evening, the three men's discussion becomes a war zone as everyone reveals long buried resentments and fears. A piece of pure theatre that wouldn't work as well in any other medium. It is an interesting little meditation on friendship, especially male friends. How much do we value our friends for who they really are? Are we more bothered about what they mean to us and how we can use them? How much of a person's identity is made up by themselves and how much is acting a part for others? Can any relationship survive brutal honesty? If there's a problem with the play it is the artificiality of the story, which stops it becoming as powerful as it may be. But there are plenty of insightful thoughts about friendship and the bloody flaws inside the seemingly most rational and educated of people. Its certainly made me keen to see a production.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

    I think Reza is one of the most brilliant playwrights writing today. This is the second play of hers I've read--the first was God of Carnage--and I've seen both performed. What I find so incredible is the way Reza structures conflict in a series of crescendos. The up and down motion of her conflict is more evident in God of Carnage, but in Art the action rises quickly, plateaus, and then rises again, plateaus, and rises, until in the final moments of the play there is a resolution, which is I think Reza is one of the most brilliant playwrights writing today. This is the second play of hers I've read--the first was God of Carnage--and I've seen both performed. What I find so incredible is the way Reza structures conflict in a series of crescendos. The up and down motion of her conflict is more evident in God of Carnage, but in Art the action rises quickly, plateaus, and then rises again, plateaus, and rises, until in the final moments of the play there is a resolution, which is undercut or destabilized at the last minute. The tight way she moves action across various levels of tension is extremely impressive, almost mirroring the painting which is the catalyst for the conflict in this play. The painting in question is white with white stripes. The difference is subtle, but it is definitely there. I think the same goes for Reza's shifts in the tone of her conflicts--they are subtle shifts but they structure the play and pull it together into an effective coherence.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Petruzzi

    "Never underestimate the pleasure of watching really good actors behaving terribly." So said Ben Brantley in 2009 about Yasmina Reza's second Tony Award-winning play, God of Carnage. I'm almost certain that had I read Carnage instead of seeing its brilliance on stage, I would have found myself as annoyed at the horrible people before me as I was when reading 'Art'. The thing is, just when you think you've had enough of Reza's letting these people have at one another for no good reason, she hits "Never underestimate the pleasure of watching really good actors behaving terribly." So said Ben Brantley in 2009 about Yasmina Reza's second Tony Award-winning play, God of Carnage. I'm almost certain that had I read Carnage instead of seeing its brilliance on stage, I would have found myself as annoyed at the horrible people before me as I was when reading 'Art'. The thing is, just when you think you've had enough of Reza's letting these people have at one another for no good reason, she hits you across the face with the point of it all. For 'Art' it's questioning the nature of friendships--what they mean and how they work, or, more often, don't work. As in Carnage, Reza's method is subtle and devoid of preachiness. Just what I want in a play.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Merilee

    4.5 stars Three long-time friends getting their knickers into various twists over one of their number's purchases of a white on white painting for 200,000 francs. The existential angst which ensues is brilliantly and wittily enacted in Serge's living room. This is Sarte meeets Feydeau. I read this 80-page play en francais, and will see it performed in English on Tuesday in Toronto.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gill

    I read this for a group read, but really didn't like it at all. I didn't see the point. It was worth reading because I can now join in the discussion, so there is one benefit to reading it. My favourite character was Yvan.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shahine Ardeshir

    True genius often lies in the ability to express extremely important, seemingly-complicated concepts in extremely simple, accessible terms. That is exactly what this play does. In a few short acts, with only three characters, Reza paints portraits that are so human, so hard hitting and instinctively understandable that she needs very little else in terms of props or story. And the insights she's able to generate for the reader are again so powerful and yet so simple. Sheer genius. I would strongly True genius often lies in the ability to express extremely important, seemingly-complicated concepts in extremely simple, accessible terms. That is exactly what this play does. In a few short acts, with only three characters, Reza paints portraits that are so human, so hard hitting and instinctively understandable that she needs very little else in terms of props or story. And the insights she's able to generate for the reader are again so powerful and yet so simple. Sheer genius. I would strongly recommend a read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marci

    hmmmm. I think I preferred God of Carnage to Art, just because I felt there was no real peak and trough they all seemed to flow along quite calmly. I did like Yvan's monologue/rant 3/4 of the way through, I think the way she writes is very clever and natural and I love seeing that in plays because it makes things so real and yet she manages to make them deep and meaningful. this is a play that needs to be performed.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Black Elephants

    In trying to write about friendship, I returned to Yasmina Reza's interesting study of what binds us to each other and what expectations weave those binds together. Art opens with a monologue by Marc who describes a painting his best friend Serge bought for $200,000. The play ends in the same way. Both points are different, and probably the reason why I love Art a lot.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sunshine

    Infuriatingly hilarious relationship tensions bubble up between three friends. Emotions are running high so for goodness sake don't mention the painting! Brilliantly performed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ivan

    A succint, minimalistic play featuring modern archetypes, just like the imaginary object of dispute, described within.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hubert

    I read it and saw it multiple times and you can consider you love a play when you still laugh on the second or third time you read/see it. Being French myself, it is a pleasure to see a French story reaching such international acclaim, as it doesn’t happen so often. The way this play is constructed and its development is typically French and I’m sure lot of people out there will find it irritating or over exaggerated. As examples of such plots, I can recommend JP Sartre’s writings and the movies I read it and saw it multiple times and you can consider you love a play when you still laugh on the second or third time you read/see it. Being French myself, it is a pleasure to see a French story reaching such international acclaim, as it doesn’t happen so often. The way this play is constructed and its development is typically French and I’m sure lot of people out there will find it irritating or over exaggerated. As examples of such plots, I can recommend JP Sartre’s writings and the movies of Arnaud Desplechin which have a lot in common with this play. Art or the actual white painting Serge has just bought is actually simply the starting point of this play as we learn quickly that the issues raising between the 3 protagonists are much more about their inner long term relationship than the actual painting itself. The play could have been cut extremely short if Marc or Serge said: “you just bought a painting, great news. Let’s go out, I want to discuss my forthcoming marriage plan with you”. The whole play foundation resolves around Marc reaction to the painting, calling it “a white shit”. The can of worms is opened, and pray god the 3 characters are not going to kill each other before the play ends. Everything here is at stake: how honest can you be with your best friend? Can you possibly compare the purchase of a painting as a treason or can you say to your friend that his wife is abrasive and without any charm whatsoever without seeing your friendship dissolve rapidly? All is about Interpretation of things we see or things we say. The play opens by Marc saying “it’s a white painting with thin with lines going across it” and ends with him saying “it’s a painting of a man coming in and out of focus, quickly disappearing”. What happens in the play shows that nothing is black and white in a relationship between 2 human beings who pretend to be friends and that diplomacy and tact go a long way.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    A short and bittersweet comedy about three middle-aged male friends who tear each other (and themselves) apart over a stupid piece of contemporary art that one of them buys for no discernible reason. I enjoyed its realistic, funny dialogue and progression of character throughout, but I don't see as much depth in it as my textbook does. It is sort of a commentary on walking the thin line between art and pretension, but it's more a character study of middle age. These three men are all frustrated A short and bittersweet comedy about three middle-aged male friends who tear each other (and themselves) apart over a stupid piece of contemporary art that one of them buys for no discernible reason. I enjoyed its realistic, funny dialogue and progression of character throughout, but I don't see as much depth in it as my textbook does. It is sort of a commentary on walking the thin line between art and pretension, but it's more a character study of middle age. These three men are all frustrated or upset about something or other from the start: one is unsure of his impending marriage and sudden career change, and the other two find themselves fighting each other's desperate attempts to remain culturally and socially relevant. They're all going through their own pseudo-mid-life-crises, as evidenced by one's sudden urge to cry when faced with a somewhat unpleasant situation, one's spending too much money for something he doesn't need and didn't want, and one's deeply visceral reactions to an unremarkable art piece. It has all the makings of a late 20th century play, with four letter words and existential ennui and not completely resolved human relationships, is written tenderly and hilariously, and probably does exceedingly well in performance. It was just a little underwhelming.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eadweard

    I refer you to Malevich's Black Square or White On White.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Patrick O'Neil

    Title: Art Author: Yasmina Reza Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction Genre: serio-comedy Date Started Book: July 4, 2008 Date Finished Book: July 10, 2008 Before Reading: What do I expect to gain from reading this? Scenes and monologues for my students, a possible play for production. CAST (Plays:) Marc: stuck in his ways, rigid, literal Serge: bought a painting, fancies himself an art collector, can be pretentious Yvan: Emotional, used to be a jokester, engaged, mostly does what his psychiatrist and fiance say, Title: Art Author: Yasmina Reza Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction Genre: serio-comedy Date Started Book: July 4, 2008 Date Finished Book: July 10, 2008 Before Reading: What do I expect to gain from reading this? Scenes and monologues for my students, a possible play for production. CAST (Plays:) Marc: stuck in his ways, rigid, literal Serge: bought a painting, fancies himself an art collector, can be pretentious Yvan: Emotional, used to be a jokester, engaged, mostly does what his psychiatrist and fiance say, insecure During/After Reading: Interesting Points from this Book: People change over time, and all relationships must end (or at least be reevaluated) Brief Overall Summary of the Book: Serge buys a painting and thinks it is a work of genius. When his friend Marc comes over to see it and finds out that it was very expensive, he is appalled that his friend could have bought such a thing. What also bothers him is that Serge, who has always done what he said, and emulated him, is now thinking for himself. He becomes almost violently angry at Serge for buying the painting. When Yvan, talks to Marc about the painting, he tells him that he agrees with Marc, and can't believe that Serge bought such a thing. When he goes to see the painting, however, he tells Serge that he likes it. Throughout the play Yvan tries to patch things up between Marc and Serge; when he is talking to either one of them, he agrees with their points of view. Yvan is also engaged, and has had a major "crisis" with his fiance, mother-in-law, and his mother involving who will be billed where on the wedding program. He is very upset about this, and does not have the nerve to tell any of the women in his life that his wedding is not about them, and to knock it off and get along. In short, Yvan is very insecure. Finally Serge, Yvan, and Marc are all in Serge's apartment at the same time, about to go to dinner, and they begin to argue about the painting. The argument becomes personal when Serge begins to take shots at Marc's girlfriend, and then both Marc and Serge begin to take shots on Yvan's psychiatrist, his fiance, and his insecurities. Finally Serge gives Marc a felt-tip marker, and in order to show him that their friendship is more meaningful than the painting, he allows Marc to deface it. Yvan is shocked, and the three finally go to dinner. In a short epilogue, all three characters have a monologue. Serge (who has, with Marc cleaned the felt-tip off of the painting) admits to the audience that he knew the pen would come off of the painting, but that he would never allow Marc to find that out; he says that he is afraid that starting this "trial period" of their new friendship off with a lie is a bad idea, but he wants Marc to feel that he is more important than the painting. Marc mentions that he is shocked that he was allowed to deface the painting, and relieved that it came clean. Yvan mentions that he cries all the time now, and that his psychiatrist, though hated by his friends, was right about them. He is hurt that the friendship is in a "trial period" now, and that it may well still end after all of these years. The play ends on an upbeat note, but with the possibility that these three old friends may stop being friends. Interesting things about the book's structure: It is a series of short scenes and shorter monologues (with the exception of one long rant from Yvan) that though not split by the author into divided scenes, are definitely intended to be separated to show the passage of time and place. One scene will take place with two characters in one apartment, then two different characters in a different apartment, etc. Recurring images/themes/other things: Friendship over log periods of time, insecurities, why we are friends with each other. What I thought of the book: I liked it. Although the few, all male characters unfortunately rule it out for high school production (unless I had a really lean year, but had good guys.) it is a wealth of scenes and monologues. I would like to see it onstage. It be useful as a class project in which the entire class "shares" the play. At times the translation was a bit awkward in places; this might be due to the fact that it was translated from French to British English. Monologues or Scenes (Plays:) Nearly every scene can be a two or three man scene for class or for auditions. There are some short monologues that could be used in classes, and the huge Yvan monologue in about the middle of the book could be broken down into class/audition monologues.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marta

    Wierd. The message about friendship was okay, but pretty dismal and depressing. In all, if you look at it on a superficial level, pretty lame. The characters are irritating and either spineless or too pig-headed. The most interesting thing I found about the book was the cover, and spent most of the time trying to figure out if the lines gouged into the canvas were either sticking out or folded inwards.

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