The Artist as Critic - Reading Tom's Books

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Working in the Tom Barrett archives this summer, intern extraordinaire, Amanda Squillante, Goucher College, ‘20, had a chance to look through books owned by Tom - complete with his notes. See her reflection on Tom’s marginalia, and link to the full collection of images, including Tom’s commentary below.

How can we get a look into the mind of an artist who’s been deceased for 72 years? In the case of Thomas Barrett, a flip through his personal collection of books makes it a bit easier for us in the present. He owned a set of books entitled The Artist Sees Differently, one consisting of text and the other consisting of black and white plates. In the volume containing plates, Barrett wrote down his thoughts regarding more than half of the works included. Some are simple, one word descriptions of the pieces in front of him, while others are direct criticisms or praises of the artists themselves. Some are humorous and easy to understand, while others make it difficult to know exactly what Barrett meant by his words. In any case, Barrett’s notes provide valuable insight into how he saw the world and what he thought of other artists. They also let us see Barrett himself in a more realistic way; he is no longer just a legend far removed from our reality, he is a person with his own thoughts and opinions that, though decades old, deserve to be heard.

Amanda Squillante, Goucher College, '20