cover image Zelda, an Illustrated Life: The Private World of Zelda Fitzgerald

Zelda, an Illustrated Life: The Private World of Zelda Fitzgerald

. ABRAMS, $24.95 (127pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-3983-7

While Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald's work as a short-story writer, novelist (Save Me the Waltz) and dancer has been appreciated by biographers and feminist critics who rescued her from her famous husband's shadow, her painting is less well known. This remarkable album, which accompanies a touring exhibition, reproduces 80 of her paintings and includes family photos, drawings and memorabilia among its 140 illustrations (114 in color). Zelda's exuberant, fanciful cityscapes of New York and Paris in the 1940s radiate irresistible charm and energy. Her flower still lifes are jewels of organic unfolding, while her serene landscapes of North Carolina seem a respite from the mental illness that plagued her until her death at age 48 in a midnight fire in a North Carolina mental hospital in 1948. Also reproduced are her almost hallucinatory biblical allegories (she embraced born-again Christianity), her paper dolls and her wildly imaginative paintings based on fairy tales and Alice in Wonderland. Novelist/biographer Kurth portrays her marriage to F. Scott Fitzgerald as one of mutual support along with alcoholic self-destructiveness. Art historian Livingston argues that Zelda's best painting belongs to a conservative, even anti-modernist tradition. Lanahan, Zelda's granddaughter, provides an affectionate introduction. (June)