Tag Archives: artists

Foursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, Rebecca Salsbury by Carolyn Burke

Foursome by Carolyn BurkeTitle: Foursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, Rebecca Salsbury
Author: Carolyn Burke
Publisher: Knopf
ISBN: 9780307957290
Genre: Art History, Literary Biographies
Pages: 432
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 stars

I had only known of Georgia O’Keeffe before reading this book. The others were merely names till I read this biography. Of course, I was aware that Alfred was Georgia’s mentor and love, but that’s that. This book is not about the gossip, as much as it is about art and what it does to artists. Foursome is a read about four brilliant artists and their place in the world. It is about an “inner circle” – their turmoils in relation to art, their successes, the places they lived and visited, and the relationship they shared with each other.

Foursome is a book that takes its time to grow on you. You cannot jump into it expecting immediate gratification as a reader. You have to be patient with it for itself to be shown to you. Burke’s new impressive book Foursome is also about America in the making. This book also made me see that perhaps personal relationships (no matter how crucial to artists) are not larger than the artistic ones that develop between people who would go to any lengths for their creative passions.

The centre of Burke’s research are the years from 1920 to 1934 in which the four companions (can term them that) flirted, developed and knew their passions, experimented artistically, and also saw fame – some greater, some lesser. It is almost like living in a bubble surrounded by people you can feed off artistically. And I think this is what led them to become such sources of gossip. Burke looks at all of this and more. She strives to write about what went on in the world as well, while their stories and lives were unfolding. History then becomes a parallel story-teller of sorts, drawing upon what changed and therefore how their relationships altered.

Foursome is the kind of biography that makes you want to jump right in and read more about the world at that time and the people who inhabited them. It is about people who take their chances, and are aware of their flaws, strengths, and all of it. The nature of art and its relationship with artists is of course the crux of the book but Burke goes further and gives us journal entries, letters, and conversations (some recorded, most not) that adds to the telling of lives that is fascinating, intriguing, and above all just makes you think about people who influenced the structure of twentieth-century art.

Amrita Sher-Gil: Rebel with a Paintbrush by Anita Vachharajani. Illustrations by Kalyani Ganapathy

Rebel with a Paintbrush Title: Amrita Sher-Gil: Rebel with a Paintbrush
Author: Anita Vachharajani
Illustrated by: Kalyani Ganapathy
Publisher: HarperCollins India
ISBN: 978-9352774739
Genre: Biographies, Art Biographies
Pages: 184
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

I love Sher-Gil’s work. Almost everything she painted. Every work of art transformed itself in her hands. So there was this one biography of hers which I had read a long time ago, whose author I forget. But this is the one that will stay for a long time to come. I think it is mainly because of the illustrations.

“Rebel with a Paintbrush” very succinctly describes Sher-Gil – as a person, a wife, a lover, and an artist. More than anything, the book is all about her influences and her works of art. The journey of an artist is so well-described that I wished there was more of it.  More than anything else, I am in awe of how she conducted herself and lived life on her terms. Mind you, we are referring to a time when feminism had just taken flight.

This book is about her life, her influences, her education, the growing-up years and her determination and passion toward her art. It is also about the story behind the artist – about the rebel and the dreamer, her loves and longing and what shaped her both as an artist and woman.

Anita Vachharajani’s take on it may not seem new, but the writing is fresh and important. Also the beautiful reprints of Sher-Gil’s work along with the original illustrations by Kalyani Ganapathy make it more than worthwhile to pick this brief biography. I loved how Anita has looked at every aspect of Amrita’s life and ensured that nothing is missed. I can only imagine how she must’ve managed it but the result is quite a treat for someone who has an interest in art and wants to understand more about Amrita Sher-Gil – her life and work. Do read this book. Won’t take too much of your time and a perfect one for the monsoons.

Book Review: Artist, Undone by V. Sanjay Kumar

Title: Artist, Undone
Author: V. Sanjay Kumar
Publisher: Hachette India
ISBN: 978-9350092569
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 240
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Art imitates life and vice-versa they say. This could not be more true in the case of Hachette India’s new release, “Artist, Undone” by V. Sanjay Kumar. I have never been able to understand art. I appreciate it a lot though. I can also distinguish between an M.F. Husain and a Bhupen Khakhar which I cannot say for most people, who claim to love art. Nonetheless, since this is a review, I shall talk about the book.

Artist, Undone chronicles the life of Harsh Sinha – who sees a likeness of himself (Fat, Forty and Fucked) in a painting and purchases it on an impulse. He decides to take a year-long sabbatical from his advertising job in Mumbai to return to his family in Chennai, to be able to spend time with his wife and daughter. Sadly, for him his wife doesn’t want him anymore. Ironically, she is interested in the artist next door – Newton Kumaraswamy. Harsh is perplexed. His life has crumbled right before his eyes and he has nothing but a painting to account for. He then goes back to Mumbai and gets involved in the world of art and artists.

Harsh Sinha is your ordinary person wanting to live an ordinary life and not getting very far with that. His aspirations are not those many and yet what he searches for is self-fulfillment (quite ironic in its own way). One can relate to the protagonist and what he goes through throughout the book. The range of emotions are consistent and do not change that frequently. That could also be attributed to the fact that may be because it is written by a man, so the treatment is rather different.

What struck me the most is the juxtaposition of what Harsh feels throughout alongside works of famous artists (the list is provided at the end). The writing is refreshing – almost like cool mineral spa water like feel to it. The book makes the reader aware about art and sometimes its implications. What it means to own a painting and how that sometimes unintentionally takes over a part of your life and remains attached to it. Artist, Undone is a great debut to be read. It might prove to be a slow read for some; however I can assure you that it will be a worth read.

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