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A Generous Vision: The Creative Life of Elaine de Kooning
The first biography of Elaine de Kooning, A Generous Vision portrays a woman whose intelligence, droll sense of humor, and generosity of spirit endeared her to friends and gave her a starring role in the close-knit world of New York artists. Her zest for adventure and freewheeling spending were as legendary as her ever-present cigarette.
Flamboyant and witty in person, ...more
Flamboyant and witty in person, ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 2nd 2017 by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published September 4th 2017)
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Cathy Curtis It is certainly an intriguing portrait, and in the book I explain how he came to have that unguarded expression. But there are so many factors in…moreIt is certainly an intriguing portrait, and in the book I explain how he came to have that unguarded expression. But there are so many factors in portrait painting, including artists' different styles and intentions, that I don't see what is gained in trying to chose "the best." (less)
Cathy Curtis There is an entire chapter about the JFK commission, including new details I discovered, from the origin of the commission to the president's sittings…moreThere is an entire chapter about the JFK commission, including new details I discovered, from the origin of the commission to the president's sittings for the portrait and E de K's struggle to paint his unusual eyes and to choose which of his "extraordinary variety of expressions" she would capture. I also include information about the aftermath of the commission, both before and after the assassination. (less)
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As she did in "Restless Ambition," her masterful biography of the painter Grace Hartigan, in "A Generous Vision" Cathy Curtis once again brings alive the life and work of a notable but underappreciated painter of the mid-twentieth century, Elaine de Kooning. And what a life she led. Curtis gives all the wild details, but also soberly and compellingly captures the larger context of Elaine de Kooning's life and work. Plus, she shows without a doubt that her subject should be remembered not as "the ...more
Although I love the title "a generous vision" I was quite disappointed with the overall level of writing in this disorganized accounting of the life and times of the creative force that was Elaine DeKooning. Cathy Curtis falls short in her strictly fact based approach, with confusing scattered timelines and often inaccurate, careless accounting of dates. I would highly recommend the much more engaging character study by Lee Hall "Elaine and Bill" which Curtis tellingly has chosen to disparage in ...more
Excellent book. It takes awhile to get into the rhythm of it as it's a bit pieced together but it still works. This was one dynamic and tireless woman artist. She not only painted her huge canvases but also taught, wrote art reviews and did about everything else concerning art. Art permeated every aspect of her life. She was outspoken and opinionated but also very compassionate to her friends and aspiring artists. She was comfortable as "one of the men" hanging out with other abstract ...more
A compelling, page-turning narrative, "A Generous Vision" presents a fascinating and revealingly detailed portrait of a great artist who deserves to be fully appreciated in her own right, rather than mainly because of her married last name. Cathy Curtis's deep knowledge of art and the art world provides rich context for understanding Elaine's challenges and for appreciating her accomplishments. The author's engagement with her subject is contagious: one feels as if one is following along with ...more
I found this to be a balanced and perceptive biography of Elaine. She was a complex character who lived a complicated life. Cathy Curtis does well to present many of those complications in a readable yet detailed text. The organization of the book is thematic rather than chronological but that did not bother me as I feel that it allows a better development of those themes. As her nephew, I knew Elaine for many years and interacted with her on many levels. The book presents Elaine fairly, and in ...more
Goodreads Giveaway - very happy I received a copy of this wonderful book. It’s great to see a biography on this amazing artist. Her portraits and themes are greatly under-appreciated. The only problem with this book is: it’s too short. Elaine was a fantastic character who lived an amazing life, and this life is distilled down to only 200 pages. Maybe one day her notebooks will turn up and Cathy Curtis can write an expansion based on them. Highly recommended.
Very interesting, but I wish there had been more pictures of her work.... especially the bronzes and the sumi paintings. What a fascinating life. Her intensity in living, writing painting and socializing was amazing. Her work will stand the test of time and her contributions to showing movement in portraiture enriched that realm of painting. Loved her Kennedy piece.