Art of Dying Writings, 2019-2022

The Art of Dying

Writings, 2019-2022

  • ISBN: 9781419773242
  • Publication Date: May 14, 2024


Price: $30.00

The complete last essays of acclaimed writer Peter Schjeldahl, the great New Yorker art critic and Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Foreword by Steve Martin
Introduction by Jarrett Earnest

When the New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl published his widely read autobiographical essay “The Art of Dying” in December 2019, he reported that he had lung cancer and his oncologist had given him six months to live, but his experimental treatment was showing some improvement. “These extra months,” he wrote, “are a luxury that I hope to have put to good use.” And he did. The Art of Dying: Writings, 2019-2022 begins with that essay and collects all 46 pieces that he wrote for the magazine before his death in October 2022.

These last works express Schjeldahl’s hard-won reflections on art and life, against the backdrop of an intensely anxious period in America, spanning the pandemic, the George Floyd protests, the 2020 presidential election, and the war in Ukraine. Schjeldahl, who was the leading art writer of his generation, wrote with generosity and openness about the art world during these tempestuous three years.


“Brilliant … a testament to Schjeldahl’s unique ability to make tangible art’s emotional effects on the viewer … This posthumous collection will be a gift to Schjeldahl’s admirers and a revelation to those new to his work.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A gorgeous memento mori from a singular writer.”
—Kirkus (starred review)

“Peter Schjeldahl wrote things that made you put down the magazine or shut the laptop or slowly slip the phone back in your pocket. Things that were so good you needed to take a minute. He was the leading art critic of his generation … but he was better than that. You could adore art or not be especially interested in it. You could concur or passionately disagree. It didn’t matter: You would read Schjeldahl just to read sentences by him. … The pieces in his new posthumous collection, The Art of Dying, were all written … after Peter was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in 2019. The doctors told him he had six months to live. But he undertook experimental treatment, and, miraculously, it worked. He lived three more years. The collection, then, is haloed by a quality of grace, almost of intercession. It is filled with terrific examples of Peter doing what he did best.”
—Sebastian Smee, The Washington Post

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