Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, a Review

I listened to the audio version of Kathleen Kull 's Lives of the Artists, Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) read by Melissa Hughes and John C. Brown. It was an agreeable enough, but very much art history lite, and I found the selection of facts somewhat surprising. With less than ten minutes per artist (and Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera share a chapter),Krull has made sure to include what each artist ate and, often, what they wore. It seems an odd choice of priorities.

Despite the title's promise, there is very little on What the Neighbors Thought of most of these artists, good or bad, after the first tantalizing hint of speculation in the introduction. It's a pity, really, because grounding people in their time periods is one of the best ways to start understanding them.

It is a reasonable enough introduction to the subject, clips along at an easy, lively pace, and I certainly learned a few things. I am tempted by Kull's other audio books, as well. However,  don't pick this up looking for deep analysis or insight. Possibly this would be better tackled in physical book format, too, as there's something strange about reading about art with no accompanying images.

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