If someone had suggested to me a month ago I’d be reading a biography of an artist with people around the world on Twitter, I wouldn’t have known what they were talking about. I had heard of Twitter, but I didn’t know what it really was, or that people connected there. To start at the beginning, this began when I took a blogging class from Alyson Stanfield and Cynthia Morris. Alyson is known to many artists are the “ART BIZ COACH“. Well, after several weeks of working on my blog and reading fascinating blogs by other artists, we were told to subscribe to Twitter. At first I resisted. Understand, I don’t text, IM, or have any phone apps. But, I succumbed and dutifully signed up. At first I was totally lost, but I slowly started getting the hang of it. Alyson thought it would be a good idea to use Twitter to read a book as a group. This helped me learn to navigate through Twitter, interact with people internationally, and read a great book – all at the same time.
The book, De Kooning, An American Master, is 600 pages long. The intent was to read 100 pages a week and discuss it for 6 weeks. Unfortunately, once I began, I couldn’t put it down and completed the book in less than two weeks. We use #dekooning to connect through Search/Twitter.
The book is rich in detail, the world De Kooning inhabited is alive within the pages of this fascinating story of a fascinating era in American art. Heavily researched and ten years in the making, it deservingly won the Pulitzer Price.
It begins with Dekooning’s childhood in Rotterdam; his mother beat him with wooden shoes, he was trained in old school portraiture, he arrived in the US as a stowaway, and then made his way to the bohemian art world of New York. It covers his marriage to Elaine, his womanizing, his ascent to being one of the most important artists in the 20th century, and his descent in alcoholism and finally Alzheimers.
It is a page turner, with people like Jackson Pollock, Gorky (his mentor), Franz Klein, Rothko inhabiting the pages. (Paul and Linda McCartney make an appearance, as does David Bryne.) The book is both chatty and educational as many chapters end with a lengthy dissertation on a particular important painting of the era.
DeKooning put his work above all else, and it took him a long time to get a body of work. He never learned to drive, he didn’t have a checking account until he was in his 40’s, he was always worried he would be deported, as he entered the US illegally. He was both charming and abusive to his friends and lovers.
I highly recommend this page turning biography!
(above painting EXCAVATION)