The Art of Ri­valry: Four Friend­ships, Be­tray­als & Break­throughs in Mod­ern Art

by Se­bas­tian Smee (Pro­file, £9.99)

The Guardian - Review - - Non-Fiction - An­thony Quinn

The Art of Ri­valry se­lects four pairs of artists who were also pals and in­ves­ti­gates the streams of in­flu­ence that flowed be­tween each pair. Lu­cian Freud and Fran­cis Ba­con, Edgar De­gas and Édouard Manet, Pablo Pi­casso and Henri Matisse, Jack­son Pol­lock and Willem de Koon­ing are led into the ring like prize­fight­ers, each eye­balling the other in a post­hu­mous con­test of achieve­ment. Art be­ing an un­pre­dictable and of­ten in­de­ci­pher­able com­mod­ity, it isn’t clear what con­clu­sions the book is lead­ing us to­wards. What at­tracts one artist to another in this ac­count is more than a mat­ter of pro­fes­sional ad­mi­ra­tion. It is the mag­netic force of per­son­al­ity, of dar­ing to be one’s own man. Smee doesn’t have any new ma­te­rial, but he shuf­fles the pack of fa­mil­iar sto­ries with dex­ter­ity and en­thu­si­asm. As a study of the dy­nam­ics of friend­ship be­tween artists it of­fers some use­ful lessons, not the least of them in the ten­sion that may in­form ev­ery friend­ship: the long­ing to be close against the need to stand apart.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.