Tuesday, August 16, 2011


"Lives of the Artists" from Calvin Tomkins gives a view of ten artists personal lives. With the material gathered during interviews, casual visits, the art critic who sometimes shadows the artists during their daily activities let the reader "meet the artist".

We learn that Damien Hirst's mind is clearer after a night of drinking, Cindy Sherman is nice, Richard Serra is irascible and ruthless. These artists have nothing in common other than "their works and lifestyles embody the future of contemporary art" Each chapter is the length of an article from the New Yorker, they were initially published in the magazine.

The author's friendly relationship with the artists does not preclude him from making critical remarks about their works.

A glimpse into their lives feeds our thirst for celebrities. What made these ten artists famous? Circumstances, talent, tenacity, pure luck...

Peaking into the lives of Julian Schnabel, Richard Serra, Matthew Barney, make them accessible and also vulnerable. These articles are not biographies, they focus on the "petite histoire".

The ten artists include: Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman,Julian Schnable, Richard Serra, James Turrell, Matthew Barney, Maurizio Cattelan, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, John Currin.

After reading this book, we understand their world better and ultimately their creations.

photographs by the author

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