23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Pretty Brilliant Itself, 16 Feb. 2010
Although I studied Art History at A level over twenty years ago, I have read very little on the subject since. Given to me by a friend, A Crisis of Brilliance has re-sparked that old interest. This is testimony largely to Haycock's approach. The book is no fictionalised biography, but it reads almost as entertainingly. We follow five Slade artists through their most formative years, all their lives to some greater or lesser degree intertwined; but, as if the drama of their relationships and ambitions wasn't enough, this is played out against the backdrop of WWI. Haycock contextualises the drama wonderfully, vividly conveying a sense of the period out of the personal.
My one criticism is that I wanted to see more of the paintings written about. That said, since a sad scarcity of them in the book itself has got me planning a visit to The Imperial War Museum, I don't suppose that should be considered too great a failing!
20th century English artists weren't on the A level syllabus when I studied; if they are now - in fact, even if they're not! - then this is just the kind of book to draw students into the subject. It reads like a superior soap opera. Brilliant.