Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

Mason Currey, Author
Mason Currey. Knopf, $24 (320p) ISBN 978-0-307-27360-4
Reviewed on: 05/06/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
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Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-1-4472-7147-5
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Succinct descriptions of artistic temperament and practice provide the material for this entertaining, if repetitive, collection. Currey catalogues well over 100 writers, thinkers, and artists, with most given roughly a page of text describing the details of their routines, often rooted in a quote from journals or interviews. The specifics and the dispositions vary wildly—while Marcel Proust would wake around four in the afternoon, smoke opium and drink coffee, and then work late into the evening with barely a bite to eat, there are as many figures, like Ernest Hemingway or Georgia O'Keeffe, who completed their work in the dawn hours and left the rest of the day for other pursuits. The rigorous lists (and staggering amounts) of chemicals ingested and the exacting workday hours are interesting, although the real treasures are to be found in the bizarre beliefs that undergird the strange practices of many artists. The included thinkers are almost without exception white Europeans and Americans and predominantly male, which limits the scope and increases the sense of monotony. There are enough moments of insight and entertainment, however, to keep this routine of routines engaging. Illustrations. (May)
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