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De Kooning: An American Master
Mark Stevens
1400041759
November 2004
Hardcover
·
 
Book Review
Gossipier than any tabloid, as scholarly as Vasari, luminously illustrated and illuminating as a lightning bolt, Stevens' and Swan's landmark biography is one of the most stunning art books I've seen in seven years of Book Review reviewing--a masterpiece that explains how the Dutchman de Kooning became the master painter of the American century. It's a page-turning tale: raised by a mom who beat him with wooden shoes, de Kooning escaped Rotterdam as a stowaway on a freighter and found a second family in New York's rampageous art bohemia. He subsisted on ketchup and booze, and broke through around 1950 with dazzling abstract expressionist canvases inspired by what was in the air: cubism, surrealism, jazz, and film noir. The careerist thing to do would've been to ride the Ab Ex tsunami, but de Kooning stubbornly defied purist...


Matisse the Master
Hilary Spurling
0679434291
Sept 2005
Hardcover
·
 
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The first volume of Spurling's magisterial biography, The Unknown Matisse, covered his evolution into a painter. This second volume opens with his adjusting to the status—albeit controversial—of master. At 40, Matisse found himself with both the freedom to paint and the burden of a reputation that drew enemies, disciples and skeptics into his working life. This shift from obscurity to notoriety had less impact on Matisse's work than on his personal relationships, especially his marriage to the single-minded Amélie, a bond that became saturated, for better and worse, with his achievements. Matisse's other relationships—with his daughter, Marguerite, his son, Pierre, his model and factotum Lydia Dylectorskaya and his patron Etta Cone among others—were likewise...


Caravaggio
Francine Prose
0060575603
Oct 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
The first thing to know about this life of the Italian baroque painter Caravaggio is that it is not a proper biography but rather an informal appreciation by novelist and occasional art critic Prose (Blue Angel). As with the other volumes in the Eminent Lives series, groundbreaking research is not expected. Fair enough. Yet despite her obvious love for the artist, Prose has little of substance to say about him. Once she dispatches with the basic points of the artist's life—that Caravaggio defied the fashion for mannered, pious painting with a gritty but theatrical realism that mirrored the artist's turbulent life—she resorts to the puffed-up style of a student trying to reach a term paper's required length. She stuffs her pages with redundant adjectives ("wan, exhausted, used up," "constant and...


Snowflake Bentley
Mary Azarian (Illustrator)
0395861624
September 1998
Textbook Library Binding
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Book Review
Most children are captivated by snow, but how many go on to make it their lifework? This beautiful biography, winner of the 1999 Caldecott Medal, tells the true story of a Vermont farm boy who was mesmerized by snowflakes. Wilson Bentley was fascinated by the six-sided frozen phenomena, and once he acquired a microscope with a camera, his childhood preoccupation took on a more scientific leaning. Bentley spent his life taking countless exquisite photographs (many that are still used in nature photography today), examining the tiny crystals and their delicate, mathematical structures. Jacqueline Briggs Martin tells this tale with simple, graceful prose that will engage children's imaginations. Edifying and snowflake-scattered sidebars offer more information about Bentley's methods and snowflake science. The artwork of Mary...


Chanel
Harold Koda
0300107137
Apr 2005
Hardcover
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From Booklist
Try as it might, this recollection of the Chanel exhibit at Manhattan's Metropolitan Museum of Art doesn't exactly capture the essence of Coco, a young, free-spirited couturier who epitomized the New Woman of her day. And still does. The details and icons associated with Coco Chanel, from the quilted bag and #5 perfume to stars and the ubiquitous double-C logo, are well represented; even the contributors (designer Karl Lagerfeld, for one) and the stark layout and typography suggest le style de Chanel, that "elegantly conceptual modernism." In one sense, the catalog is far superior to the go-live viewing; every piece of her work, whether in the 1920s or today via Lagerfeld's interpretation, reveals the attention to the many hidden points of dress. Yet, despite seven-plus essays and a wondrous parade of photographs...


My Life and Hard Times
James Thurber
0060933089
Oct 1999
Paperback
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Russell Baker, New York Times
"Possibly the shortest and most elegant autobiography ever written . . . .The Brevity Thurber achieved in My Life and Hard Times by stopping at 1918 seems almost incoceivable today when the most typical biography feels more like a bludgeon than a book" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Newsweek
"The late James Thurber from Columbus, Ohio, in the course of his work as a an ironic and comic genius, was a rare thing as can be found in the United Statesa stark American without a trace of corn, and a first-class sensibility without a tinge of the precious. He died within twelve months of Hemingway and Faulkner, and Thurber himself is a already a figure, at once looming and modest, in the national pantheon." --This text refers to the...


Chanel and Her World
Edmonde Charles-Roux
0865651590
Mar 2005
(Hardcover) - Revised Ed.
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From Publishers Weekly
If style never goes out of fashion, then a biography of Coco Chanel shouldn't either. First published 25 years ago and out of print for the last decade, Charles-Roux's book was originally all black and white, but large color photos and illustrations have been added for this reissue, and the layout has been redesigned as well. (The text remains the same.) As a former editor-in-chief of French Vogue for 12 years and a longtime friend of Chanel, Charles-Roux collected a lot of photos of the fashion icon and of those allowed into her inner circle. She shares many of them in this massive biography, which follows Chanel's journey from her birth on August 20, 1883, to her days as a shop girl in Moulins to her triumph in, and transformation of, the fashion world. The book also provides insight into how Chanel's style...


Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo
Hayden Herrera
0060085894
September 2002
Paperback
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From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Lynne Auld
In Frida, art historian Hayden Herrera vividly portrays of a woman of strength, talent, humor, and endurance. Frida Kahlo (1907-54) was born in Mexico City, the child of a Mexican mother and a German father. Her early years were influenced by the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution and a bout with polio, but Frida remained spirited, resilient, and mischievous. Her father, a photographer, encouraged Frida's artistic interests, and her education at an elite school drew her to new ideas and to a group of irreverent radicals who would become some of Mexico's most respected intellectuals. When she was nineteen, Frida's life was transformed when the bus in which she was riding was hit by a trolley car. Pierced by a steel handrail and broken in many places, Frida entered a long period...


Lynn Front to Back
Assouline
2843235766
June 2005
Hardcover
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Leonardo Da Vinci: Flights of the Mind
Charles Nicholl
0143036122
November 2005
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
Nicholl aims for the man behind the myth in this penetrating, highly detailed biography, which recognizes da Vinci's "mysterious greatness as an artist, scientist and philosopher" but avoids hagiography (and nearly steers clear of the word "genius"). The illegitimate child of a Tuscan peasant girl and a local notary, da Vinci (1452–1519) was apprenticed as a teen to Florence sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio. Nicholl (Somebody Else: Arthur Rimbaud in Africa) conjectures convincingly about Leonardo's early career, though he tends to dwell overlong on technical aspects of Renaissance art production. Leonardo established a Florentine studio in 1477, but it was not until he moved to Milan five years later that he began to produce his iconic works: the painting Virgin of the Rocks, the famous Vitruvian Man drawing....


Don't Try This at Home
Dave Navarro
0060988533
Oct 2005
Paperback
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Book Review
Andy Warhol was so enamored with Polaroids that he made special arrangements with the company to purchase all the overstock film of a discontinued model of camera. A similar photographic fetish is the organizing principle of Don't Try This at Home. For kicks, rocker and author Dave Navarro installed a carnival-grade photo booth in his L.A. home. The book documents a year's worth of visitors to Navarro's pad who all stepped into the booth to get their mug shots snapped.

The resulting dispatch from Hell is as hard to draw one's eyes from as a twelve car pile-up. Intermingled with a parade of rock stars, models, prostitutes, drug dealers, pizza delivery guys, and housecleaners are a series of observations and interviews with Dave and his co-author Neil Strauss. Strauss, co-author of other tomes for Jenna Jameson, Marilyn...



Lee Miller
Carolyn Burke
0375401474
Nov 2005
Hardcover
·
 
From Publishers Weekly
Miller (1907–1977) began her career as a fashion model, and quickly decamped for Paris, where she became Man Ray's muse and student. After they split, she returned to Manhattan for a brief stint as a studio photographer, but eventually returned to Europe. Her surrealist background led to her taking stunning photos of the London Blitz, but she shot her most memorable—and disturbing—images accompanying American troops from Paris to Dachau as a war correspondent for Vogue. Burke's meticulously detailed biography reveals how keenly Miller's wartime experiences haunted her during her final troubled decades, but it also probes sympathetically into the artist's other significant trauma: a childhood rape, which was, Burke conjectures, exacerbated by her father's practice of photographing her nude well...


Artists' Houses
Gerard-Georges Lemaire
0865652309
September 2005
Hardcover
·
 
Book Description
The homes of some of the world's most celebrated artists are featured in this eye-catching lavishly illustrated volume. From Frederic Church's Moorish castle on the Hudson River to Claude Monet's charming house and garden at Giverny in the French countryside to Giorgio de Chirico's sophisticated Roman apartment, this book reveals each artist's tastes and fashionable flair.Artists' Houses is a close-up look at the intimate hideaways that 15 great European and American artists created for themselves, filling them with the art, furnishings and books they cherished. Each house bears the unmistakable imprint of its owner: Alphonse Mucha's sitting room is awash in Belle Epoque furnishings and his own Art Nouveau posters. The parlor of Rosa Bonheur, known for her startling paintings of animals, contains her canvases along...


Leonardo Da Vinci
Charles Nicholl
0670033456
Dec 2004
Hardcover
·
 
From Publishers Weekly
Nicholl aims for the man behind the myth in this penetrating, highly detailed biography, which recognizes da Vinci's "mysterious greatness as an artist, scientist and philosopher" but avoids hagiography (and nearly steers clear of the word "genius"). The illegitimate child of a Tuscan peasant girl and a local notary, da Vinci (1452–1519) was apprenticed as a teen to Florence sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio. Nicholl (Somebody Else: Arthur Rimbaud in Africa) conjectures convincingly about Leonardo's early career, though he tends to dwell overlong on technical aspects of Renaissance art production. Leonardo established a Florentine studio in 1477, but it was not until he moved to Milan five years later that he began to produce his iconic works: the painting Virgin of the Rocks, the famous Vitruvian Man drawing....


The Unknown Matisse
Hilary Spurling
0375711333
October 2005
Paperback
·
 
Book Review
"Matisse was born in 1869 in northern France and grew up in Bohain-en-Vermandois, near the Belgian border, on the drab, cold, wet beet fields of French Flanders. The same area, culturally and geographically speaking, had produced Vincent van Gogh sixteen years before." Thus begins the first full biography of an artist who, more than any other, is associated with Mediterranean heat, brilliant color and light, and languid, luxurious interiors. As author Hilary Spurling points out, an open window is one of Matisse's frequent motifs. Given the climate of his youth, that image speaks more of escape than of the sea air of the French Riviera.

If all biographers wrote with Spurling's warmth, empathy, and intelligence, no one would likely want to read any other kind of book. The Unknown Matisse is thoroughly researched, with...



Hungry Heart: A Memoir
Gordon Parks
0743269020
November 2005
Hardcover
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From Booklist
By any standard, Parks has led an extraordinary life as a photographer, filmmaker, composer, author, and eyewitness to the major events of the twentieth century. As a black man, born into poverty as the youngest of 15 children, his life is even more extraordinary. In this fourth memoir, Parks recalls the Depression and working with the Office of War Information. His exceptional talent as a photographer eventually led to a career as the first black photojournalist with Life magazine. He chronicles the social injustices, the rise of the civil rights movement, and friendships with major figures from Malcolm X to Muhammad Ali. His first book, The Learning Tree, was made into an award-winning film, leading the way to a career directing and composing the scores for Shaft and Leadbelly, among others....


Steinberg at the New Yorker
Joel Smith
0810959011
Apr 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Steinberg's high-concept graphic art—epitomized by his oft-imitated cartoon map in which a Manhattan distended with self-importance shoves the continents of North America and Asia to the margins—is enchantingly showcased in this lavishly illustrated retrospective of his work for the New Yorker. Smith, a curator at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar and author of Edward Steichen: The Early Years, surveys six decades of Steinberg's pieces, including all 89 New Yorker covers (in full color), cartoons, wartime sketches from overseas, evocative (but never literal-minded) illustrations for articles, and unpublished items from the artist's portfolio. The material is arranged thematically, examining such recurring motifs as cats, pedestals and rubber-stamped figures and documenting the turn to...

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