Books: Climb Every Mountain

An adventurous critic will go to any lengths to find out why art makes a difference in our lives

Michel Kimmelman is not the kind of art critic who spends all his time in museums. He's the kind who finds himself trudging up the side of Mont Ste.-Victoire, the peak in Provence that was Paul Cézanne's perennial motif. Or getting lost in the darkness of the Nevada desert while pondering Michael Heizer's massive earthworks. Or setting out to visit the world's largest collection of light bulbs, only to detour to a museum of hunting decoys, musing all the while on the history of connoisseurship and the evolving notion of the marvelous.

Kimmelman sets out on most of these cultural pilgrimages in...

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