The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships, Betrayals, and Breakthroughs in Modern Art

The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships, Betrayals, and Breakthroughs in Modern Art Author Sebastian Smee
ISBN-10 0812994809
ISBN-13 9780812994803
Year 2016-08-16
Pages 416
Language English
Publisher Random House
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Pulitzer Prizewinning art critic Sebastian Smee tells the fascinating story of four pairs of artistsManet and Degas Picasso and Matisse Pollock and de Kooning Freud and Baconwhose fraught competitive friendships spurred them to new creative heights Rivalry is at the heart of some of the most famous and fruitful relationships in history The Art of Rivalry follows eight celebrated artists each linked to a counterpart by friendship admiration envy and ambition All eight are household names today But to achieve what they did each needed the influence of a contemporaryone who was equally ambitious but possessed sharply contrasting strengths and weaknesses Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas were close associates whose personal bond frayed after Degas painted a portrait of Manet and his wife Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso swapped paintings ideas and influences as they jostled for the support of collectors like Leo and Gertrude Stein and vied for the leadership of a new avant garde Jackson Pollocks uninhibited style of action painting triggered a breakthrough in the work of his older rival Willem de Kooning After Pollocks sudden death in a car crash de Kooning assumed Pollock s mantle and became romantically involved with his late friends mistress Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon met in the early 1950s when Bacon was being hailed as Britains most exciting new painter and Freud was working in relative obscurity Their intense but asymmetrical friendship came to a head when Freud painted a portrait of Bacon which was later stolen Each of these relationships culminated in an early flashpoint a rupture in a budding intimacy that was both a betrayal and a trigger for great innovation Writing with the same exuberant wit and psychological insight that earned him a Pulitzer Prize for art criticism Sebastian Smee explores here the way that coming into ones own as an artistfinding ones voicealmost always involves willfully breaking away from some intimates expectations of who you are or ought to be Praise forThe Art of RivalryGripping Mr Smees skills as a critic are evident throughout He is persuasive and vivid You leave this book both nourished and hungry for more about the art its creators and patrons and the relationships that seed the ground for moments spent at the canvas The New York TimesWith novella like detail and incisiveness Sebastian Smee opens up the worlds of four pairs of renowned artists Each of his portraits is a biographical gem The Art of Rivalry is a pure informative delight written with canny authority The Boston GlobeBacon liked to say his portraiture aimed to capture the pulsations of a person Revealing these rare creators as the invaluable catalysts they also were Smee conveys exactly that on page after page His brilliant group biography is one of a kind The Atlantic Perceptive Smee is onto something important His book may bring us as close as well ever get to understanding the connections between these bristly bonds and brilliance The Christian Science Monitor In this intriguing work of art history and psychology The Boston Globes art critic looks at the competitive friendships of Matisse and Picasso Manet and Degas Pollock and de Kooning and Freud and Bacon All four relationships illuminate the creative processboth its imaginative breakthroughs and its frustrating blocks Newsday

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