Coming soon - a new book on the revolutionary decade in picasso's life

In 1900, an eighteen-year-old Spaniard named Pablo Picasso made his first trip to Paris. It was in this glittering capital of the international art world that, after suffering years of poverty and neglect, he emerged as the leader of a bohemian band of painters, sculptors, and poets. Fueled by opium and alcohol, inspired by raucous late-night conversations at the Lapin Agile cabaret, Picasso and his friends resolved to shake up the world.

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For most of these years Picasso lived and worked in a squalid tenement known as the Bateau Lavoir, in the heart of picturesque Montmartre. Here he met his first true love, Fernande Olivier, a muse whom he would transform in his art from Symbolist goddess to Cubist monster. These were years of struggle, often of desperation, but Picasso later looked back on them as the happiest of his long life.

Recognition came slowly: first in the avant-garde circles in which he traveled, and later among a small group of daring collectors, including the Americans Leo and Gertrude Stein. In 1906, Picasso began the vast, disturbing masterpiece known as Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Inspired by the groundbreaking painting of Paul Cézanne and the startling inventiveness of African and tribal sculpture, Picasso created a work that captured and defined the disorienting experience of modernity itself. The painting proved so shocking that even his friends assumed he’d gone mad. Only his colleague George Braque understood what Picasso was trying to do. Over the next few years they teamed up to create Cubism, the most revolutionary and influential movement in twentieth-century art.

This is the story of an artistic genius with a singular creative gift. It is filled with heartbreak and triumph, despair and delirium, all of it played out against the backdrop of the world’s most captivating city.


In Bookstores Now - Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces

"A Life in Six Masterpieces provides [an] insightful perspective on Michelangelo. [Unger] carves away the extraneous and gives us a glimpse of the true artist." —Washington Post

"Mr Unger is a good, popular art historian who understands the moods of the artist and his times." —The Economist

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti was not only the most accomplished sculptor, painter, and architect in an age renowned for producing men of talent, but a genius who reinvented through his work and the example of his life the role of the artist. Difficult, irascible, egotistical, and unpredictable, he set out not only to fashion monuments of unsurpassed grandeur and emotional depth, but to transform the humble craftsman into a secular shaman, an oracle whose utterances touched the deepest chords of the human spirit.

In MICHELANGELO: A Life in Six Masterpieces (Simon and Schuster; July 22, 2014; $29.95), Miles J. Unger takes readers on a tour of Renaissance Florence and Rome as he narrates the life of the artist through six of his greatest masterpieces: the Pieta; the David; the Sistine Ceiling; the Medici tombs; The Last Judgment; and the Basilica of St. Peter's. Throughout his career, Michelangelo clashed with his patrons--dukes, kings, and popes--accepting commissions from the great lords of Europe but following only the dictates of his own inscrutable muse.

Refusing to compromise his artistic integrity, he emancipated the artist from a slavish devotion to those who paid his salary. He gained a reputation for being demanding and difficult to control--he was even accused of fraud for accepting money for works he failed to complete--but patrons continued to vie for his favor, knowing their fame would rise with his. For all of Michelangelo's irascibility, his jealousy of rivals like Raphael and Da Vinci, and his insubordination, he was universally acknowledged the greatest artist in an age of giants. During his lifetime, a cult of personality grew up around the artist, a legacy that continues to this day whenever we regard a creative work as a form of self-expression, the unique creation of an unconventional mind providing previously unimaginable insights into the human condition. And after his death, even his minor works were treasured as holy relics, touched by his immortal genius.


Also by Miles J. Unger