on 15 June 2009
Some of the worst writing around can be found within the covers of art monographs, as if buyers are really only interested in the illustrations. However Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan have produced one of the finest biographies of any artist that I have read: well researched, superbly - and often wittily - written, and decently illustrated for a biography. De Kooning's fascinating life and often fraught relationships are portrayed vividly and major works are analysed in some depth. I understand these authors are now writing on Francis Bacon, a book that will be keenly awaited by this reader. Although the book includes a colour plate section of De Kooning's key works, it's worth buying the Taschen paperback by Barbara Hess to glance at alongside this monumental biography. Highly recommended.
on 13 January 2013
This is probably one of, if not, THE greatest biography ever written about an artist. It's a masterpiece, and as Amazon says, "a page turning tale".
I relished in following De Kooning's process and progress as an artist from his very beginnings in extreme poverty (living on ketchup in a New York Studio with no heat and spending his money on art supplies) and struggle, to becoming one of the most important and revered painters that ever hit the American painting stage.
It was fascinating to read this brilliantly written account of the New York art scene in the 30's and 40's during the depression and war years, and the bursting forth of the powerful American abstract expressionists in the 50's when New York became the powerhouse center of the Art World.
Most of all, what I took away from this was De Kooning's fierce commitment to his art; reading of his phenomenal drive and passion to paint every single day, through poverty, rejection, artistic blocks, success, fame and decline, was both mesmerizing and sobering.
De Kooning, Portrait of an American Master felt like an experience of being up close with a genius