Friday, December 31, 2010

Reading about Art

In a recent newsletter, Robert Genn commented that he was reading Steve Martin's novel "An Object of Beauty" about dealings in the art world of upscale collectors. Then he added that he- and most artists- don't usually read fiction. The clickbacks now show that lots of artists *do* read fiction and many read about art. I've got 238 pages into "Fall of Giants" by Ken Follet and I'm really enjoying it. I might even end up more knowledgeable about the whole 20th century. Certainly I already know more about coal mining than I did before. However, before that, I finished "The Forest Lover" by Susan Vreeland. I've enjoyed all of Vreeland's books - my favourite is probably "Life Studies", her book of short stories and my favourite novel is"Luncheon of the Boating Party" because it gives such a complete picture of the creation of this painting. However, I had put off reading about Emily Carr as I wasn't sure how I would react to a fictionalized account. I'd read Emily Carr's journals, heard about her and been in children's art classes in the old Vancouver Art Gallery where we were on the floor under paintings by Emily Carr, Lawren Harris and others. She influenced how I saw the West Coast. But, Susan Vreeland did capture her character very well and the descriptions of her trips to First Nation's lands were very well done as was the inner struggle with expressing herself. I could understand the need to invent a character like Claude for the sake of the story - but I really think, given the conventions and morals of the times, that any relationship between a "Claude" and Emily would never have happened. Still, it was worth reading and thinking about the contribution that Emily Carr made towards recognition for female artists. Now I'm looking forward to Vreeland's new novel coming out this January. ....painting here is "The White Gown" which is Iva in a wedding dress - and has nothing to do with reading.

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