In another life, before becoming one of the best known and most popular journalists in New York and the author of the best-selling memoir A Drinking Life
, Pete Hamill studied art on the GI Bill in Mexico City. However, upon seeing the monumental work of Jose Clemente Orozco, he abruptly lost his nerve: "It seemed an act of self-delusion to try to be a painter." After 44 years, Hamill has found a way to integrate his early affair with art, his lifelong love of Mexico and his narrative gifts, in this riveting and lushly illustrated book on Diego Rivera, Mexico's best-known, widely loved muralist. Hamill's text, he says, was completed before the recent publication of Patrick Marnham's Dreaming With His Eyes Open: A Life of Diego Rivera
. This one is less scholarly but respectably researched, and Hamill's fervent opinions on which of Rivera's works are worthy and which are the sad outpourings of a Communist Party hack are remarkably persuasive. Hamill's aesthetic judgment has led him to avoid reproducing anything second-rate. He has chosen the great murals, paintings and drawings that suit the godlike stature of this outsize artist, who lied, cheated, womanised and evaded responsibility his entire life, but who worked like a demon in the service of his art.
Hamill weaves all the elements of Rivera's life into a fantastic read: Rivera's shabby genteel childhood; his flight to France during the l0-year Mexican Revolution, during which nearly a tenth of his countrymen died; his callous abandonment of his first wife; his ugly political gambits and high-flown society contacts; and his ultimately sad relationships with both men and women. This is not as balanced as Dreaming With His Eyes Open, but nonetheless a passionate first look at an artist whose complicated life will probably still be examined decades from now. --Peggy Moorman
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.