Monday, March 8, 2010
Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, Ross King's account of the four years that Michelangelo spent painting the Sistine Chapel frescoes, is a grand mix of history and biography. Readers learn about Michelangelo's problems with health and money, his difficult patron, Pope Julius II, and his rivalry with the young Raphael. King also paints a fascinating picture of 16th-century Rome, inhabited by such figures as Leonardo da Vinci, Savonarola, and Machiavelli.
The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece traces dual paths to the discovery of Caravaggio's The Taking of Christ. The first follows two graduate art students from Rome, the other a restorer at the National Gallery of Ireland who is assigned an old painting of unknown origin. As the story unfolds, readers are drawn deep into the world of archival research and the life of Caravaggio.
Francine Prose explores the complex dynamics between the artist and his muse in The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women and the Artists They Inspired. In these nine profiles, she analyzes the lives of women who had the luck, or misfortune, to connect their destiny with that of a famous artist. Among the muses are Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland; Lou Andreas Salome, who fascinated Nietzsche, Rilke, and Freud; Gala, the wife of Salvador Dali; and John Lennon's Yoko Ono.
I Was Vermeer, some real-life stories are more fantastic than anything Hollywood can invent. That a mid-20th-century artist could create forgeries that fooled the entire art world is the extraordinary story of Dutch art forger Hans van Meegeren (1889–1947). Recognizing that very few Johannes Vermeer paintings were known in his time and that there were no known early Vermeers, Meergeren realized he could create works that could not be compared to any authenticated Vermeer. Those fakes fooled everyone—art scholars, museum curators, and Nazi Reich Marshal Hermann Göring included. Meegeren's deception was only discovered when he confessed it in court to save himself. London-based journalist and literary translator Wynne uses his journalistic skills to present a remarkable story that is part mystery, part adventure, part biography, and part courtroom drama. His thorough research and accomplished writing style bring this unique event in art history to the general public.
What are your favorite nonfiction books about art and artists?
~ For more themed book lists, check out Listless by One Librarian's Book Reviews and Listed by Once Upon a Bookshelf ~