An Artful Life: A Biography of D.H. Kahnweiler, 1884-1979

Pierre Assouline, Author Grove/Atlantic $24.95 (411p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1227-9
Kahnweiler, a banker with German-Jewish roots, found his true calling when he established a gallery in Paris in 1907. He eventually became the dean of European art dealers through his courageous and uncompromising support of cubism. At a time when that aesthetic revolution was reviled by most critics and collectors, he championed the work of Picasso, Braque, Leger and Gris. His social circle included many of Paris's leading intellectuals, and this book presents a vivid portrait of the cultural ferment in the French capital between the world wars. Kahnweiler's business was ruined twice--in WW I by the French government, who considered him an enemy alien; then in WW II by the Germans in occupied France. He survived the Nazis by hiding in the French countryside--an experience he described as ``Paradise in the shadow of the crematoriums.'' Though an early advocate of experimentation, he disparaged the rise of abstract art toward the end of his career. Assouline's ( Gaston Gallimard ) meticulously researched and fluidly translated biography successfully analyzes a complex figure who played a pivotal role in the marketing and eventual triumph of modern art. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Paperback - 411 pages - 978-0-88064-131-9
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