Other Works

An Artist in Venice


An Artist in Venice, with a foreword by Simon Winchester and a preface by Theodore Rabb, chronicles Van Doren's experience painting in that city for more than a quarter century. It includes a number of reproductions of his work, and received praise from bestselling author Stacy Schiff who writes: “A charming prose poem, effortlessly informative and sublimely illustrated.” An Artist in Venice has received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly and was recommended by the Boston Globe.

Architect and artist Van Doren offers a love letter to Venice in this elegant and slender volume, and he sings his praise to the city through majestic prose and 23 beautiful watercolor paintings of Venice. He quickly discovers, after wandering into San Giacomo di Rialto, perhaps Venice’s oldest church, that the city has one "great transformative advantage: Mediterranean light," which offers a new way of seeing the city’s architecture, the history of art, and his own painting. Van Doren praises numerous artists from whom he draws lessons as he explores the city. James Whistler captures the "sweet serenity [of Venice] with perfect pitch." He admires deeply John Singer Sargent’s watercolors of Venice that exhibit his "supreme confidence with color." Van Doren takes John Ruskin as his model, confessing that Ruskin was an "artist of architecture" whose writings convinced him that he could become a painter. In all of his paintings, he has attempts to keep in mind the lesson of one of his teachers: "Keep it simple. Don’t try to make it more complicated than it already is." Clearly, he’s learned his lesson well.
Publishers Weekly, starred review, January 11, 2013

In his new memoir, An Artist in Venice ...[Van Doren] pulls off the not-inconsequential feat of conjuring some of the best-known views in the world with fresh eyes… [in his] painting of the Basilica San Marco… the light will resonate with anyone who has crossed the Piazza San Marco early on a summer's evening… [and] his architectural training gave him a talent for insinuating precision with the fewest possible brush strokes. Mr. Van Doren's book is much more than a monograph; it's also a lively account of living in the city and of some of his adventures while visiting more than a dozen times over the past quarter century.
The Wall Street Journal

Venice, a city that has captured the imagination of artists and writers over the centuries, made a painter out of Adam Van Doren, who arrived in 1987 to study its architecture. Van Doren, a master of light and grandson of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mark Van Doren, is an amiable companion as he goes about exploring the city, sketchbook and notebook in hand. An Artist in Venice (Godine) succeeds as a memoir of discovery and a portfolio of paintings and sketches. His dreamy, richly hued works, none more than six and a half inches tall, are beautifully reproduced.
Boston Globe, "The Find," February 3, 2013

What makes An Artist in Venice exceptional is Van Doren’s paintings and his words.
–Morley Safer