Rivalry is at the heart of some of the most famous and fruitful relationships in history. The Art of Rivalry follows eight celebrated artists, each linked to a counterpart by friendship, admiration, envy, and ambition. All eight are household names today. But to achieve what they did, each needed the influence of a contemporary-one who was equally ambitious but possessed sharply contrasting strengths and weaknesses.
Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas were close associates whose personal bond frayed after Degas painted a portrait of Manet and his wife. Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso swapped paintings, ideas, and influences as they jostled for the support of collectors like Leo and Gertrude Stein and vied for the leadership of a new avant-garde. Jackson Pollock's uninhibited style of "action painting" triggered a breakthrough in the work of his older rival, Willem de Kooning. Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon met in the early 1950s, when Bacon was being hailed as Britain's most exciting new painter and Freud was working in relative obscurity. Their intense but asymmetrical friendship came to a head when Freud painted a portrait of Bacon, which was later stolen.
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"This audiobook could have been a conventional biography of eight modern artists and the artistic influence they had on each other, but instead it is lightened with gossipy scandal, drunken fights, slashed paintings, and promiscuity. In a wonderful deep voice that evokes a seriousness of purpose, narrator Bob Souer also subtly incorporates the amusing undertones and explosive meltdowns in the text. The book is an entertaining and informative dive into the fraught relationships between Freud and Bacon, Manet and Degas, Picasso and Matisse, and Pollock and de Kooning. Each painter fed off the other, urging excellence but with undercurrents of jealousy and contempt--the contemporary term "frenemy" comes to mind. This is a fine match of interesting mini-biographies and an absorbing, deft performance. A.B. © AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine"
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