By Robert Shore. Laurence King Publishing, March 2020. 116p. ill. ISBN 9781786276100 (h/c),
By Jonathan Jones. Laurence King Publishing, March 2020. 118p.ill. ISBN 9781786276094
Reviewed November 2020
Jacqueline Fleming, Visual Literacy and Resources Librarian, Indiana University-Bloomington, email@example.com.
The idea behind the new Lives of the Artists book series comes from the well-known text by Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists. Intended as readable and accessible texts, these two brief biographies, Andy Warhol by Robert Shore, and Artemisia Gentileschi by Jonathan Jones are the first two publications to launch this book series. The series seems to attempt to straddle the popular and early academic audiences. Future additions to this series include: Frida Kahlo by Hettie Judah (October 2020), and David Hockney by James Cahill (2021).
Andy Warhol by Robert Shore, author, reviewer and editor of arts publications, is a detailed look into the life and work of the cultural icon himself. The biography opens with details of Warhol’s humble beginnings as one of three sons to immigrant parents in the slums district of Pittsburgh. Andy grew up as a self-conscious person who was always trying to find himself. The one constant in his life was his great desire to become an artist. This biography dives into the different phases of Andy’s artistic development and the various stages of his personal transformation as a celebrity and his work to create the Andy Warhol brand.
Robert Shore writes as though he is telling a story. This is not a dry biography detached from its subject. Rather, it is a thrilling, vibrant, yet factual telling of the personal life of Andy Warhol andhis rise to fame. In just over a hundred pages, the reader gets a detailed look into AndyWarhol’s life, his evolved aesthetic as an artist, and his journey as a celebrity. Sixteen black and white and color images show moments in Warhol’s life and reproduce selected works. The text is followed by footnotes and a bibliography. The text is accessible and a great starting point both for those who want an introduction to Warhol and to those who want to learn more about him.
Artemisia Gentileschi, written by art critic and historian, Jonathan Jones, is a look at the life and artistic career of Artemisia Gentileschi. This biography covers the personal tragedies of Gentileschi’s life and how those moments inspired her artwork. Jones has organized the text into chapters titled by the women depicted in Gentileschi’s art. This supports and highlights how the historical references in Artemisia’s artwork were heavily influenced by her personal experiences. The text emphasizes the unfailing spirit of Gentileschi, and how she broke barriers as a female artist in a male dominated industry.
Jones does an impeccable job of presenting Gentileschi’s life in a way that makes sense for the reader. Every claim is supported by historical evidence and documented with quotes, the most notable example being references to the rape trial. It can be difficult to assert that an artist's work is autobiographical, but in this case, Jones does a compelling job by connecting documentation depicting the challenges of Gentileschi’s personal life to descriptions of her work. His claims are supported with footnotes and a bibliography. Black and white and color images illustrate the text. This small volume is a great choice for someone who is wanting a general overview of Artemisia Gentileschi’s life and artistic career. It is recommended for Gentileschi researchers who do not know where to start looking for information.