Tuesday, October 9, 2007
book review: DeKooning: An American Master
de Kooning is the epitome of the american artist. an immigrant to this country, he went on from poverty and anonymity to become the 20th century american master. his influence is felt in nearly every media of art today, from painting to sculpture, he is often called the american matisse. the book follows de kooning from life to death, hitting on all key parts of his life.
the great thing is the amount of background you receive, not just on de kooning but on gorky, rothko, pollock, and other artists of the abstract expressionist movement. stevens and swan leave no holes in the history. i became so attached to the characters that i found myself crying at their sometimes tragic deaths and rejoicing with their achievements.
the book is a good read in length, and large enough in size to make you look fucking smart. harry potter ain't got shit on me, so take that you fifth grade bastard, i can read big books too.
the price is a little steep but being that it garnered so many awards, every library in the country has access to it.
while reading it, i became part of a hap hazard book club, by this i mean that two other friends, who are also artists, were drawn to read the book. we would call each other at pivotal moments, asking first what page the other is on, not spoil anything, and discuss, sometimes at length, what is happening in the story. there have been few books that i have read that have gotten the attention of my friends as much as this one. it changed the way we paint, the way we think about art, view art, critique and interact with one another as artists. it laid a bit of the groundwork for the now defunct WAC. after finishing the book, i made the decision to become what could be called a career artist. this simply means that i define myself as an artist AND act on that definition. working on jobs that i don't always enjoy but do so because they are artistic ventures and any day getting paid to paint is better than a day at the office, or factory for that matter. i can feel the burden that i think a lot of artists have felt. two kids, a wife, bills, and no steady source of income. but if perseverance pays off at all, then the outcrop is well worth the harvest.