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on 3 January 2008
This is a well-written and well-researched biography of the wonderfully quirky Edward Burra. But its value is greatly diminished by the failure to include a single reproduction of the artist's work. This is publisher penny-pinching at its worst.
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on 9 October 2010
I can well understand the critical applause which greeted this publication: it begins with a remarkably acute recreation of Burra's background and early years. But - as if drunk on the incredible wealth of the Burra archive - it soon degenerates into a tiresome chronology of Burra's rackety maturity, lurching between bars, brothels and endless squalid liaisons... great fun for connoisseurs of Britain's twentieth-century Bohemian low-life but totally unrevealing of Burras's artistic vision. There is no informed analysis of Burra's pictorial craft. There is not a single reproduction of Burra's painting in the whole of this publication - which compounds the dearth of access to his legacy in public collections. Ultimately, I found this a deeply disappointing purchase.
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on 30 September 2014
I am normally extremely fond of reading artists biographies but for some reason I found this book exceptionally tedious. I have had two seperate attempts to get through it and got stuck at two thirds distance, I've just managed to complete a reading as I took it with me to the Hospital waiting room whilst my Wife was undergoing an Operation. I can't understand why I found it such hard work when Edward Burra is an artist I have admired and found inspiring since first encountering his work in the 60's? I don't mind particularly it not being a 'picture' book (even though the actual Catalogue Raisonne of Burra's work also leaves a lot to be desired ) as I have seen a lot of the work 'in the flesh'and there are other books on him . It may just be badly written but I hardly feel qualified to judge writing skills. If your experience echo's mine don't give up - There is an excellent volume of Burra's extraordinary letters and a lovely book put together by his friends after his death, of their memories of him and their Friendships. There are many Catalogues that are worth tracking down - From his dealers Gallery exhibitions - The recent Pallant House Show plus the Tate Retrospective in the early 70's and the Hayward Gallery show and the Aforementioned Catalogue Raisonne (rather baffling when compaired to the Stanley Spencer Catalogue Raisonne by the same Publisher)- I hope that a better illustrated version appears at some point ? But nothing beats seeing his work for real.
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on 30 November 2012
I was quite dissappointed with this lenghty and often boring text.I expected to see masses of Burra's pictures and a narration on how he was inspired to create them.Short answer, not a one in the full text.LEFT ME UNIMPRESSED WITH THE AUTHOR'S DESIGN AND EXECUTION OF THE NARRATIVE.OK IF YOU LIKE THE EXCESSIVE NAME DROPPING AND SMALL TALK CONNECTED TO THIS GREAT MAN'S LIFE.
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on 24 June 2015
The author has clearly trawled through the Burra correspondence but shows little understanding of period (the particular style of speaking and writing), has a shaky grasp of historical chronology and such worlds as that of ballet, with which B was intimately involved. Crucially, there are so many 'probablys', 'surelys' etc not to make a lot of what is written mere supposition. It is a decent enough read, but you always get the feeling the picture of B painted is always slightly out of focus...
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on 23 November 2014
Jane Stevenson is a very thorough biographer, no illness or casualty of domestic life is spared. It would have been a much better book if her publishers had given us some colour plates of the master's paintings.
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on 10 September 2009
An extraordinary tour de force by an authoress with one of the most impressive ranges of expertise I know.
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