In 2020, as the spread of COVID-19 caused pandemonium worldwide,a painter and writer returned to a childhood home to reflect upon the transcendence of nature and the work of the artists he most admires. It seems to Christopher Neve that in their final works—their late style—that they have something remarkable in common. This has more to do with intuition and memory than with rationality or reason.
Immortal Thoughts: Late Style in a Time of Plague is an anthology of these reflections. In this personal and moving account, nineteen short essays on artists are interspersed with recollections of the cataclysmic global progress of the disease in poignant contrast to the beauty of the seasons in Neve’s isolated house and garden. From Paul Cézanne and Michelangelo to Rembrandt and Gwen John, Neve dwells on artists’ late ideas, memories, risks, and places in the context of time and mortality.
As much art history as a discussion of great art in the context of the “dance of death,” Neve also writes about Pierre Bonnard, Giorgio Morandi, Nicolas Poussin, Chaim Soutine, and many others.
Immortal Thoughts is a summary of a lifetime’s contemplation of art.
Christopher Neve is a painter and writer. He is the author of several books and articles. His book Unquiet Landscape: Places and Ideas in 20th-Century British Painting arose out of long talks with Ben Nicholson and other artists.