Friday, March 14, 2008

Novel Artists

The lives of artists inspire not only fascinating biographies, but novels as well. Women artists in particular are intriguing because of their many obstacles to success, including exclusion from formal training and a lack of financial support and recognition for their work. The following novels blend a bit of historical fact with creativity to bring these artists to the forefront. Nonfiction books about the artists are also listed (if available) should you choose to explore further.

The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland
It was Emily Carr (1871-1945) - not Georgia O'Keeffe or Frida Kahlo - who first blazed a path for modern women artists. From illegal potlatches in tribal communities to prewar Paris, where her art was exhibited in the famed Salon d'Automne, Carr's story is as arresting as it is vibrant. The result is a glorious novel that will appeal to lovers of art, native cultures, and lush historical fiction.

Keeping the World Away: A Novel by Margaret Forster
A classic Margaret Forster novel with the same satisfying appeal as her bestselling Diary of an Ordinary Woman - the story of an actual early 20th century painting [by Gwen John] and its fictional adventures through the century and of the women whose lives it touches.

Zoia's Gold: A Novel by Philip Sington
Madam Zoia [Korvin-Krukovsky], the enigmatic "painter on gold," is dead. The last surviving member of the Romanov court, she leaves behind a house full of paintings, a collection of private papers, and a mystery.

Holy Skirts by Rene Steinke
In 1917 no one had ever seen a woman like the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. Before today's outsized celebrities, there was the Baroness—poet and artist, proto-punk rocker, sexual libertine, fashion avatar, and troublemaker. In a beautifully written novel, RenĂ© Steinke paints an exquisite portrait of this woman and her time.


The Emily Carr Omnibus by Emily Carr

Gwen John: A Painter's Life by Sue Roe

Gwen John: An Interior Life by Cecily Langdale

Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada, and Everyday Modernity: A Cultural Biography by Irene Gammel

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