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Art [Paperback]

Reza Yasmina
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Paperback, Nov. 16 1994 --  
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Book Description

Nov. 16 1994 2869434103 978-2869434103
" Mon ami Serge a acheté un tableau [...] un tableau blanc avec des liserés blancs. " Médecin dermatologue, Serge aime l'art moderne et Sénèque, qu'il trouve " modernissime ". Ingénieur dans l'aéronautique, Marc a des goûts plus traditionnels et ne comprend pas que son ami Marc ait pu acheter " cette merde deux cent mille francs ". Quant à Yvan, représentant dans une papeterie, il aimerait ne contrarier aucun de ses deux précieux amis. Mais les disputes esthétiques autour du " tableau blanc " dégénèrent dans un crescendo hilarant et féroce, qui ne laissera personne indemne... Créée en 1994 à Paris, dans une distribution irréprochable (Vaneck, Luchini, Arditi), " Art " a fait connaître Yasmina Reza sur les scènes du monde entier. C'est dire l'universalité du thème, l'humanité des personnages et la virtuosité des dialogues qui font déjà de cette pièce un classique de la comédie de mœurs. Comme chez Molière ou Labiche, Feydeau ou Ribes, les élèves découvriront que le " goût des autres " reste le plus efficace des ressorts dramatiques, et combien la fantaisie la plus extravagante peut révéler d'angoisse existentielle.
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Avec cette virtuosité rare chez une femme dans la description des univers essentiellement masculins, Yasmina Reza visite, sonde et observe avec affection et tendresse les hommes de son temps. À travers trois personnages, elle se joue des mesquineries de l'ambition, de l'importance du paraître, de la place de l'homme social face à la force de l'amitié. De même qu'une relation fraternelle basculait soudainement à l'énoncé d'une phrase dans Pour un oui ou pour un non de Nathalie Sarraute, dans Art c'est l'achat d'un tableau qui vient semer le trouble entre deux amis de toujours. Serge, esthète éclairé, acquiert pour une somme exorbitante ce qu'il considère comme un summum de l'art contemporain : une toile... blanche. Mais voilà, Marc ne peut se retenir d'exprimer son exaspération et bientôt sa fureur devant cette attitude si convenue et finalement si décevante de la part d'un homme qu'il croyait connaître et aimer comme un frère. Pièce remarquable de finesse et d'intelligence, Art a remporté un succès international tout en révélant un véritable auteur. --Lenaïc Gravis et Jocelyn Blériot

From the Back Cover

Mon ami Serge a acheté un tableau. C'est une toile d'environ un mètre soixante sur un mètre vingt, peinte en blanc. Le fond est blanc et si on cligne des yeux, on peut apercevoir de fins liserés blancs transversaux. Mon ami Serge est un ami depuis longtemps. C'est un garçon qui a bien réussi, il est médecin dermatologue et il aime l'art...

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Friendships, and art... Jan. 9 2007
By M. B. Alcat TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
"Art", a play written by French author Yasmina Reza (1959-...) in 1994, and translated into English in 1996 by Christopher Hampton, is quite interesting. Despite the fact that it isn't overly long, it tackles difficult subjects such as the nature of friendship and art in a rather original way.

The plot is not complicated, and revolves around three male friends: Serge, Marc and Yvan. The dynamics of their friendship is substantially altered when one of them, Serge, buys a Modernist painting without consulting with the others. Serge simply fell in love with the painting, and believes it is splendid even though it is somewhat strange, all white with some lines in a different tonality of white in the middle. Marc, his assertive friend, finds that the amount Serge paid for the painting (200,000 French francs) is absurdly large, and is offended by the mere idea that his friend Serge likes it and believes it is art. Yvan, on the other hand, doesn't mind, but his non-commital attitude will land him in trouble with both Serge and Marc.

Buying a painting, a seemingly common act, will draw the three friends into an uncomfortable debate about themselves, their relationship, and art. It will also give the reader the opportunity to take his own position in a debate that it is still going own.

All in all, I really liked "Art", and I found the ending specially good. This is the first play by Reza that I have read, but if the rest are as good as this one, I have no doubts that I will read many more.

Belen Alcat
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "ART" imitates life July 22 1998
By RALPH PETERS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"ART" lives up to its Tony-winning reputation, at least on the book level. The text examines the results of the seemingly innocuous act of buying a painting and the impact it has on the lives of three male friends. While much is made of the fact that the painting itself is only a white canvas with some vertical lines, its fascinating to observe Yasmina Reza making the point, almost subliminally, that art itself (let alone the question of art) has the power to unify or divide with equal fierceness simply by existing. The discussions these men foist based on the conflict of buying an expensive painting that needs interpreting are incisive and thought-provoking. I don't feel, as some have, that the play is ultimately about friendship among men, though that is certainly an element. But all great works of "ART" are open to discussion.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Friendships, and art... July 18 2005
By M. B. Alcat - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Art", a play written by French author Yasmina Reza (1959-...) in 1994, and translated into English in 1996 by Christopher Hampton, is quite interesting. Despite the fact that it isn't overly long, it tackles difficult subjects such as the nature of friendship and art in a rather original way.

The plot is not complicated, and revolves around three male friends: Serge, Marc and Yvan. The dynamics of their friendship is substantially altered when one of them, Serge, buys a Modernist painting without consulting with the others. Serge simply fell in love with the painting, and believes it is splendid even though it is somewhat strange, all white with some lines in a different tonality of white in the middle. Marc, his assertive friend, finds that the amount Serge paid for the painting (200,000 French francs) is absurdly large, and is offended by the mere idea that his friend Serge likes it and believes it is art. Yvan, on the other hand, doesn't mind, but his non-commital attitude will land him in trouble with both Serge and Marc.

Buying a painting, a seemingly common act, will draw the three friends into an uncomfortable debate about themselves, their relationship, and art. It will also give the reader the opportunity to take his own position in a debate that it is still going own.

All in all, I really liked "Art", and I found the ending specially good. This is the first play by Reza that I have read, but if the rest are as good as this one, I have no doubts that I will read many more.

Belen Alcat
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Art" is dark, humorous, and subtle. March 9 2005
By S. Stockham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This play revolves around three friends, Serge, Marc, and Yvan. All three men are educated and successful, and recently Serge has bought a piece of Art featuring white diagonal lines across a white canvas. Serge is very pleased with his expensive purchase, however Marc has different sentiments. They each confer with their mutual friend Yvan, and again with each other and eventually all together. Disagreements over whether or not the art is any good, or even art at all, begins to divide the friends.

What makes this play incredible is the way Yasmina Reza captures the subtle human attitudes and emotions that are hidden in our language and the way we interact with one another. To just hear a story about three friends who disagree about the quality of a piece of art would be a bore, but when it is told with the kind of sharp and realistic dialogue that Reza has written, it comes alive. Reza creates an intimacy between the audience and her characters by assigning all three characters short soliloquies throughout the play, so we as readers/an audience understand what each man is thinking as they interact with each other.

Anyone who has experienced a serious argument with a close friend can appreciate the realism of Reza's work. Those who are not looking for something dramatic can also appreciate the dark humor that present throughout the play. I would recommend this play to just about anyone.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good idea, dull execution Jan. 2 2001
By Pierre Weydert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The basic idea underlying "Art" is intriguing as well as promising: The seemingly harmonious relationship between three male friends named Marc, Serge and Yvan is all of a sudden threatened and ultimately put to the test when one of them, Serge, buys a controversial work of modern art - an immaculately white canvas, decorated only with a few solitary lines, to be precise. While this constellation is indeed promising, as it could be used by the playwright both to explore the different layers of (male) friendship and to set the stage for a broad discussion of man's diverging tastes and attitudes towards art, not much is made of this starting point.
To be sure, the play opens on an interesting note when Serge proudly presents the newly acquired "painting" to a startled Marc. Confronted with an all but white canvas Marc tactlessly expresses his dismay at Serge's being so stupid as to have wasted money on such a nonsensical object, a remark that obviously leads to a quarrel between the two longtime friends. Yvan on the other hand, always anxious to please everybody, shows interest and admiration for the purchase when with Serge, but changes sides and joins in mocking the canvas when together with Marc. From this point on, just as the reader is keenly anticipating the plot's next intriguing turn, the play degenerates into a mixture of shallow aphorisms and déjà-vus: The three men decide to meet in order to talk their differences of opinion over, and doing so they come to realize (and to avow) that the whole time their friendship and even their lives were tainted with some embarrassing realities.
In the end the three make up, although their friendship will probably never be the same again. Exactly why they agree to bury the hatchet, however, never becomes quite clear, and thus no real attempt is made to decode the complexity of (male) friendship, just as art's role in the development of events never gets the attention it really deserves. In conclusion one might say that far too little has been made of a very promising initial idea.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Art": in the eye of the beholder July 28 2003
By Michael J. Mazza - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Art," the play by Yasmina Reza, has been translated into English by Christopher Hampton. The back cover info notes that the play ran in Paris beginning in October 1994 and received its British premiere in 1996.
This 3 character play is about a trio of friends: Marc, Serge, and Yvan. As the play starts Serge has infuriated Marc by buying an all white painting for a huge price. Yvan gets caught in the middle as the three argue over art, the role of the artist, being "modern," personal identity, and relationships.
This description of the play may make it sound a bit like a "Seinfeld" episode. It's an intriguing and witty play. I've never seen it performed, but because it seems to rely so heavily on the presence of a central prop, "Art" may lose some impact as a pure readers' text (not unlike the situation with August Wilson's play "The Piano Lesson"). Ultimately the drama builds to a powerful conclusion. It's a thought-provoking play; I especially recommend it to those who wonder about the nature of art and its role in our world today.
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