The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships, Betrayals, and Breakthroughs in Modern Art

Sebastian Smee. Random House, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9480-3
In this beautifully written book, Pulitzer Prize–winning art critic Smee (Lucian Freud) explores the dramatic relationships between Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas, and Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Concerned with “yielding, intimacy, and openness to influence” more than pure rivalry, Smee provides a concise biography of each pair, highlighting the similarities and differences between their lives, philosophies, and personalities. This illuminating text draws connections between the pairs (the personal tension between Degas and Manet is, for example, similar to that between Freud and Bacon) and cleverly links events in the artist’s lives, such as two parallel tragedies within Matisse and Picasso’s close families, and Freud’s and Bacon’s separate—though similarly intense and devastating—love affairs. This ambitious and impressive work is an utterly absorbing read about four important relationships in modern art. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/06/2016
Release date: 08/16/2016
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Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-8129-8507-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-5159-1213-2
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