Nat Tate: An American Artist: 1928-1960
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Nat Tate: An American Artist: 1928-1960

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  105 ratings  ·  31 reviews
When William Boyd published his biography of New York modern artist Nat Tate, a huge reception of critics and artists arrived for the launch party, hosted by David Bowie, to toast the late artist's life. Little did they know that the painter Nat Tate, a depressive genius who burned almost all his output before his suicide, never existed. The book was a hoax, and the art wo...more
Hardcover, 72 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Bloomsbury USA (first published June 3rd 1998)
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pianogal
Short little book about my new favorite American artist. His bridge series is outstanding...all of his work has a hint of whimsy about it, while at the same time being extremely serious. If only he hadn't died so young (sigh).

Thanks to William Boyd for finding him...
Nick Sweeney
Boyd's late 1990s art hoax tale of a non-existent American painter is so short, and so full of photos, it can be read in half an hour, so really it's more like a glossy leaflet. Very competently done, and his sketches of characters from the New York art world of the 40s and 50s are very convincing. It's a good piece of writing, and is funny, informative on the type of person Nat Tate may have been, but also rather pointless! People like David Bowie and Gore Vidal were in on the hoax, which was a...more
janine
Participating in a prank? Fun. Watching a prank unfold? Entertaining. Reading a work of prank memorabilia thirteen years after the prank unfolded? Meh.

Nat Tate is a fake biography or a real biography of a fake person, depending on how you want to look at it. William Boyd created Nat Tate, “a New York modern artist,” and gave him a slender, basic- facts biography to fool some art critics in the 1990s. It worked. Critics believed the “Tate burned most of his artistic output before his suicide” lin...more
Tiffany
I received this book for free through the goodreads first reads program.

I find this book difficult to explain. Going into the book I knew about its background as a literary hoax. I knew that every page of my reading would be fictional.

However, in reading the book I became attatched to the quirky, introverted character of Nat Tate. He was a man with a sort of tendency to be reclusive and though he had friends, none seemed to know him well. A journalist who observed him- Montstuart- appears to kn...more
Giselle
Jun 16, 2011 Giselle rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Giselle by: goodreads
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book through goodreads first-reads.

The idea behind "Nat Tate" is an excellent one-- the life of an obscure (and fictional) American artist set against the backdrop of the triumph that was American (and specifically, New York) painting after World War II. The problem, however, is that this particular treatment of a Zelig-like character, as published, reveals only a kind of abstraction, and little that suggests a living, breathing individual. Tate's obscurity notwithstanding, the testi...more
Susan Kavanagh
To my great delight, Bloomsbury decided to reissue the short biography of Nat Tate originally published in England in 1998. For fans of William Boyd, it has been difficult to find an affordable copy of this 66 page history of an unknown American artist who supposedly was active during the 1950s. Readers of William Boyd’s novels will know that he is very clever writer and nowhere is his cleverness better displayed than in this literary hoax. Boyd’s biography of Tate includes reproductions of his...more
Russell Bittner
I must confess I didn’t even know this book was a hoax when I pulled it down from the shelf at the local library. (I’d just finished two of Boyd’s works — Any Human Heart and Fascination — and I was looking for something else, short enough to read and digest in an afternoon.)

Nat Tate is essentially exposition. It’s a simple monograph about a relatively simple guy: an American artist who happened to kill himself at the unhurried age of 32. Problem is, he never existed—no, not even long enough...more
Holly Cline
I won this through first reads and was intrigued by the whole situation surrounding the book. I confess that I was not expecting it to be such a short read (It took me less than a round trip subway ride to tribeca & back to read the whole thing in one day), but the brevity works for it. No more is necessary to get the idea across, and in retrospect, the more detail and elaboration that would have been added, the more suspicious people might have been.

I find it pretty cool that this story was...more
Johanna
Nat Tate was an interesting read, and a very quick one at only 65 pages! Although I'm not a very artsy person, I always enjoy reading about people, and this book was no exception. I was amazed at how completely William Boyd was able to weave a story around his fictional character, with a thoroughness that seemed to be too honest to be made up. I had to laugh that an author would play such a prank on people, and even more so that people could be so easily fooled. But I think the thing that impres...more
Glenda Alexander
William Boyd must have had a delightful time writing Nat Tate; it’s a very creative book.

I believe if William Boyd wrote the book to prove a point he most certainly was able to do so, if only to he and Susan (whom the book is dedicated to).

Nat Tate, an American Artist is exactly what it was meant to be, a fictional character. It’s about an artist brief life which was summed up in less than 68 pages which has an equal amount of writing and photos.

I really enjoyed the way he introduces the Nat Tat...more
Robert Boyd
This is a book about a fictional artist who was a minor character in William Boyd's novel Any Human Heart. Boyd constructs a biography of Tate, an eccentric but largely forgotten artist within the outer orbits of the abstract expressionists. (In some ways, he is like a rich Forrest Bess.) It's a clever piece of mimicry but fairly slight, capable of sustaining a short essay, which is what this heavily illustrated 68-page book is. Ultimately, it's a bit unsatisfying. Boyd is a better novelist than...more
Robert
An interesting attempt at some sort of artistic in-joke, or perhaps an unusually overindulgent project by author William Boyd and original publisher David Bowie, at crafting a rare and highly sought after (though entirely fictional) visual artist. Tate's name is supposedly--or hypothetically--a reference to England's NATional TATE gallery; although what, if any, connection there is would be beyond me. The book is an interesting curiosity--it is entirely too subject to its' pretense of being a no...more
Amandaj
A short book, I initially saw this when I was browsing the goodreads giveaways and thought to myself, this sounds interesting. So, I was excited when I saw that I would get a copy of it. I have to admit, when I saw the name David Bowie mentioned in the description my interest increased. I found the book a bit peculiar. It was a very quick read that reminded me of something like a report one would write for a class. I think the more entertaining aspect of Nat Tate is that he was a hoax. I think m...more
Colleen
Oh William Boyd, you are tricky. I picked this book up at the library yesterday and whizzed through it. A slim book, it is beautiful, thoughtful, and sad. It's also a nice weight and size in the hand. I read Any Human Heart a few years ago, thinking it was entirely a work of fiction. Then, yesterday, I got entirely jumbled, reading quotations from Logan's journals in this book. Wasn't it fiction? Logan was real? To the interwebs and the truth! It's all invented and clever, a fine weaving of stor...more
Xty
I won this a couple of weeks ago here at Goodreads. It was an interesting topic and made me read thru it at one sitting to know the reasons behind which draw Nat to end his life. My only concern is the transition of one topic to another. I didn't see the smooth flow - like the introduction to Janet Felzer, it was like it appeared in the middle - Maybe its just me.. :D... The illustrations or pictures were sometimes not in the same page as were it was mentioned - that made me flip back to check w...more
Angela Gaskell
Jul 11, 2011 Angela Gaskell rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Angela by: First Reads Giveaways
Shelves: first-reads, crafts
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lois Miller
Interesting and quick fictional read into the NYC artworld of the 1940s - a tale of self-loathing, creative genius and the pressure to perform. The sentence that stood out to me is in the final paragraph of the book, "The example of a truly great artist at the summit of his powers will - and perhaps should - have a daunting effect on a lesser talent, particularly one still finding its way." Coming from Boyd, the reader is forced to ask if the author is referring to himself as a great artist who...more
Heidi
What an interesting concept - to write a man's life as fiction is one thing, but to write a man's life as fact when it is not is quite another story. Boyd makes Nat Tate seem not only possible but probable with so many facts, names, details, and "sources." If I had not read the back cover before reading the book, I would have thought Nat had actually existed. I enjoyed Boyd's use of water and drowning to give a theme to Nat's life.

I received an ARC of this book through the goodreads giveaways.
Robert
It was nice to read some more about Logan Mountstuart - since Any Human Heart was a book I loved so much I felt a palpable sense of loss when I finished it - but as good as it is, as other reviewers have noted this is a very slim volume and I probably would have thought twice about spending £10 on it if I'd paid attention and noticed it was only 66 pages.
Judee
For a story that was a complete hoax, this little book was well thought out and very clever. The author has a very vivid imagination and can tell a very convincing tale. There were parts of the book that I skimmed over because I did not find them very interesting. All in all a decent fairy tale.
Bill Larsen
Pure genius. A wonderfully enjoyable one-hour read.

It's simply the biography of a significant young artist.

A must read - especially if you appreciate the NY art world.

Enjoy.

(Spoiler.... After reading, I suggest you go on-line and read more about this biography. Amazing.)
cleo
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

I guess I just don't get it. The books is dry, dull, boring. I just couldn't convince myself to care at all about anyone in the book. If the copy I have had not been only 66 pages long, I'd feel like reading it was a waste of my time.
Louis
This was a great book in my opinion. I loved it. It is a very convincing biography. I would think that he is a real person if I didn't know better. The book itself is an easy read, but a really good one. Very well written. Boyd has done it again. Loved it.
Fredrick Danysh
A disjointed biography of American artist Nate Tate. Gives more information about the people that he was envolved with than about the artist. Free copy for review purposes.
Julia
Received the ARC as a Goodreads First Reads, so I'm reviewing it for free.

I think I found the concept more amusing than the actual novel, but it was overall enjoyable.
Eric Holmlund
A very interesting faux biography. Well crafted and worth a quick read. Glad to have won it from Goodreads giveaways!
Misty
Ah, to have been at the Bowie fete honoring such a brilliant yet sadly unknown artiste! ;)
Lulu
May 27, 2011 Lulu marked it as to-read
I won this book from the first reads giveaways and I am so excited to read it. Thanks.
Tim
Boyd's imaginary biography--wholly made up. Very clever.
amber
I won this book in a goodreads firstreads giveaway.
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8170
Of Scottish descent, Boyd was born in Accra, Ghana on 7th March, 1952 and spent much of his early life there and in Nigeria where his mother was a teacher and his father, a doctor. Boyd was in Nigeria during the Biafran War, the brutal secessionist conflict which ran from 1967 to 1970 and it had a profound effect on him.

At the age of nine years he attended Gordonstoun school, in Moray, Scotland an...more
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