Review by Booklist Review
In this vibrant biography, Unger tells the story of Picasso the man to illuminate Picasso the artist. We learn about Picasso's romances and financial woes, his philosophies, and, of course, his illustrious social circle (a virtual who's who of modernist artists, writers, and critics). But most enchanting is the way Unger places Picasso on the ground, be it waiting in the cold outside an elegant Parisian apartment building or enduring a daylong journey through the foothills of the Pyrenees. By invoking the artist's cold ears and tired feet, Unger reminds us that Picasso's groundbreaking work did not simply well up from his soul but was forged in relation to the world and the people around him. Because of this, Unger succeeds in making Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, the book's titular painting, accessible. Heady modern art is made over as approachable and exciting. After three biographies of Renaissance greats (Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Lorenzo de' Medici), this is Unger's first foray into the twentieth century, and he ably brings it and its art to life.--Taft, Maggie Copyright 2018 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Describing Les Demoiselles d'Avignon-the 1907 painting alluded to in the title-as the canvas that "splits art historical time into an old and new epoch, BC and AD," the author of this riveting biocritical study makes a case that Picasso's seminal work serves as both the linchpin for modernism in the pictorial arts and the primary focus through which people view Picasso's artistic legacy today. Unger (Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces) vividly recreates the scene of early 20th-century Montmartre and Picasso's studio in the Bateau Lavor, where the artist held court with a devoted band that included the writers Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob, a host of struggling fellow artists, and the visionary collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein. He describes how Picasso synthesized the ideas of artists who influenced him (especially El Greco, Gauguin, and Cézanne) into the underpinnings of Cubism. Unger even imparts an element of drama to the artist's rivalry with Henri Matisse, as Picasso strives to find a form of expression that will capture "the technological and social innovations associated with modernity" ("a crucial task of the avant-garde")-an effort that culminated in Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. This engrossing book chronicles with precision and enthusiasm a painting with lasting impact in today's art world. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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