Saturday, August 27, 2016

Illustrations | The 4 Most Notorious Rivalries in Art History, Illustrated


The 4 Most Notorious Rivalries in Art History, Illustrated

Illustration inspired by Sebastian Smee’s The Art of Rivalry © Nathan Gelgud
Reading Sebastian Smee’s new book The Art of Rivalry, you see patterns emerge. Younger artists befriend older ones, then ruthlessly surpass them. Artistic competition serves as a pretext for the attentions of one person. Tensions between friends mirror critical assessments of each other’s work. Every happy artist is alike in the same way, each unhappy one gets really drunk.
Edgar Degas painted a portrait of Edouard Manet and his wife Suzanne, but may have gotten too close for the older artist’s comfort. Francis Bacon was self-destructive, alienating his friend Lucien Freud, whose uneasy artistic realism started to seem childish to his drunk friend. Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse both went through prolific periods in order to replace each other on the walls of the Stein family home. Jackson Pollock wanted to punch everybody, even his late-to-fame comrade Willem de Kooning.
The Art of Rivalry is made up of four distinct chapters, each devoted to the friendship between two titans of painting. For a certain kind of reader, this stuff is catnip, and Smee’s adept handling of context, history, and gossip is enough to make some of us feral with happiness. To mark the occasion of the publication of this special book, we bring you an illustrated guide to the four most contentious friendships in the history of art.
art of rivalry

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