Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice

October 05, 2003|By Michael Pakenham

Disarmed: The Story of the Venus de Milo, by Gregory Curtis. Knopf, 272 pages, with 21 illustrations, $24.

Curtis is a Texas-based magazine writer and editor who brings to the story of one of the most engaging pieces of art on earth an open mind and an innocence of artspeak or any of the other often stultifying predispositions that too often constitute a heavy price for reading about art. The resulting book is fresh, full of adventure, conflict and a sense of discovery. Perhaps the most famous statue on earth, the Milo Venus reached the Louvre, the property of the French nation, through deeply disputable wrangling and worse that began immediately after its discovery on the island of Melos in 1820. Curtis reaches out to offer his own reasonably persuasive answer to the riddle of who the sculptor was. He does a creditable job of laying out just why the piece is of paramount beauty and importance.

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