Out of Eden presents the rigorous investigations and musings of a poet-essayist on the ways in which modern artists have confronted and transfigured the realist tradition of representation. Di Piero pursues his theme with an autobiographical force and immediacy. He fixes his attention on painters and photographers as disparate as Cezanne, Boccioni, Pollock, Warhol, Edward Weston, and Robert Frank. There is indeed a satisfying sweep to this collection: Matisse, Giacometti, Morandi, Bacon, the Tuscan Macchiaioli of the late nineteenth century, the Futurists of the early modern period, and the American pop painters.
Di Piero's analysis of modern images also probes the relation between new kinds of image making and transcendence. The author argues that Matisse and Giacometti, for example, continued to exercise the religious imagination even in a desacralized age. And because Di Piero believes that the visual arts and poetry live intimate, coordinate lives, his essays speak of the relation of poetry to forms in art.