Giselle's Reviews > Nat Tate: An American Artist: 1928-1960

Nat Tate by William Boyd
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Jun 16, 11

bookshelves: first-reads
Recommended to Giselle by: goodreads
Read in June, 2011

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 testimonies of those who brought to life the "facts" of this artist's life belie their relationship with the man as less than we might have imagined them to be. The book is filled with interesting photos documenting Tate's life and his relationships with the famous and notso-famous, at times blurred to suggest a kind of off-handedness, or that the photos had no particular importance when they were taken. Troubling, however, is that an error (even if only a typo) which captions a photo as being that of Frank O'Hara, circa 1935, is troubling since, in 1935, Frank O'Hara, a famous American poet and art critic, was only 9 years old. In a book full of deliberately fictional assertions meant to be taken as truth, one needs to accurately depict those historical truths surrounding the fiction to maintain this sort of story's credibility.
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