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Lives Of The Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) [Hardcover]

Kathleen Krull
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 11 2001 Lives Of . . .
Most people can name some famous artists and recognize their best-known works. But what's behind all that painting, drawing, and sculpting? What was Leonardo da Vinci's snack of choice while he painted Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile? Why did Georgia O'Keeffe find bones so appealing? Who called Diego Rivera "Frog-Face"? And what is it about artists that makes both their work and their lives so fascinating—to themselves, to their curious neighbors, and to all of us? This book presents the humor and the tragedy in twenty artists' lives as no biography has done before.

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From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-Judging from the popularity of television talk shows and supermarket tabloids, Americans love gossip. As the title suggests, this collection of anecdotes about 15 famous artists of European heritage (and Hokusai) is gossipy. Tidbits flood the brief biographies: Leonardo's and Michelangelo's homosexuality, Van Gogh's "ear episode," Bruegel's fondness for practical jokes, Cassatt's support of women's suffrage, etc. These morsels are integrated into chapters with an easy-flowing sequence of short paragraphs, and supplemented with an "Artworks" section that adds a few pithy comments about several specific pieces, such as O'Keeffe's bone paintings or Kollowitz's large granite memorial for her son Peter. Hewitt supplies a full-page watercolor and colored-pencil portrait and vignette for each artist. These are friendly representations that also include personal objects like Matisse's fiddle, Chagall's village, Duchamp's snow shovel, etc. They add pleasant visual attractions to the lighthearted approach in this inviting introduction to a few of the Big Names in our artworld. A page of artistic terms is also included.
Kenneth Marantz, Art Education Department, Ohio State University, Columbus
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 4^-6. From the eclectic series that began with Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (and What the Neighbors Thought) (1993) comes a volume devoted to visual artists. The subject seems well suited to Krull's format: informative short biographies that focus on the subjects' personal lives and eccentricities rather than chronologies of their masterpieces. A few notes on major artworks follow each biography. Among the 19 artists discussed are Leonardo, Bruegel, Cassatt, Van Gogh, Picasso, O'Keefe, Dali, Noguchi, Rivera, Kahlo, and Warhol. Each chapter begins with one of Hewitt's distinctive portrait paintings, handsome caricatures of the artists and a few significant or distinctive objects indicating their interests and individual traits. A lively, entertaining presentation. Carolyn Phelan

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First Sentence
FOR SOMEONE who may have accomplished more than any other man in history, little is known about Leonardo da Vinci-except that his curiosity was unique. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Way to Perceive the Lives of the Artists March 13 2003
Most people can name at least a couple famous artists and cite some examples of their best-known works. But have you ever wondered what's really behind all that painting, sculpting, and drawing? Kathleen Krull's book Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) gives an in-depth view into the humor, tragedy, and mystery in twenty artists' lives, as well as the gossip inspired by their peculiar lifestyles. Carefully researched, this humorous biography travels throughout the centuries, offering basic facts along with interesting tidbits and anecdotes about artists from Leonardo Da Vinci to Georgia O'Keeffe and beyond. It also includes interesting backround information behind each one's artistic works as well as creative and eye-catching illustrations by Kathryn Hewitt. This entertaining book allows readers to get to know the world's greatest artists and their artworks through each one's unique and engaging story.
The book is well organized into chapters each focusing on the life of one individual artist. The author skillfully and humorously connects information about artists' personalities, preferences, and lifestyles with how they affected their most well known artworks. It recreates each one's position in history, telling how the artists were seen by the general population in their day, or even their reputation among curious or superstitious neighbors. Readers will be able to see for themselves that famous artists were real people who did mess up once in a while. The author explains a time when Leonardo Da Vinci decided to try out a new painting method, saying, "The technique resulted in disaster...(he hadn't read all the way through to the part that said "don't try this on walls").
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting cross selection of artists May 28 2000
"It's not what an artist does that counts, but what he is" - Picasso, p. 56
The book contains 16 Chapters on the following 17 artists in birth year order: Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), Peter Bruegel (1525?-1569), Sofonisba Anguissola (1532-1625), Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Mary Cassatt (1845-1926), Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Kathe Kollwitz (1867-1945), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986), William H. Johnson (1901-1970), Salvador Dali (1904-1989), Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988), Diego Rivera (1886-1957) & Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), Andy Warhol (1928-1987).
It contains a variety of gossipy tidbits about the artists' lives. The cross selection of artists is an interesting combination. Krull introduced me to three artists of which I was not familiar (Anguissola, Kollwitz and Johnson). As a result Krull has whet my appetite and I will now seek out further information. Hewett"s illustrations are entertainly and cleverly done. I am especially particular to her rendition of Hokusai (he is wearing a kimino with both "The Wave" and "Mt. Fuji" on it).
I'm not convinced that the book is intended for young readers (ages 9-12). The gossip is on occasion adult in content. No actual prints of any of the artist's paintings are included, which was a surprise given the high cost of the book. This proves cruelly aggravating given that Krull references select paintings with accompanying notes.
Additional tidbits missing from the book: Dali did the dream sequence in Alfred Hitchcock's "Spellbound" starring Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman.
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Format:Audio Cassette
It was interesting to read about the eccentric personality characteristics of the great artists and how they found their specialty areas of creativity. I especially enjoyed learning more about Cassatt and O'Keefe and how they encountered a lot of criticism during their time and how they were not afraid to be themselves and BE GREAT! I will share this book with my son when he is ready for it. Right now he is only nine, and too much into sports(ha.)
Ansel Adams should have been included.
Jeffrey McAndrew
author of "Our Brown Eyed Boy"
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5.0 out of 5 stars My six year old and I love this book! Sept. 20 2000
By A Customer
Reading a chapter from this book has become a bedtime ritual for my daughter and me. My daughter happens to be very interested in art and this book gives her an idea of what it's like to actually be an artist. Both the illustrations and text bring these artists to life more than any other childrens or adult book I have ever seen. This is one of the few books that we both enjoy reading over and over again. I wish the authors would do another volume of artists. Meanwhile I'm ordering another book by this author/illustrator combination.
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5.0 out of 5 stars NOT For Children Only!!! April 16 1998
By A Customer
What a sin that this marvelous series is positioned as "children's literature." As a 40-year-old lifetime student of art, I stumbled across this title in a gift shop. It brings life and personality to artists that surpasses any biography I've read. *Anyone* who is interested in art would love this charming, insightful, and delightfully anecodotal work. I immediately went to Amazon.com and bought the other two in the series. I told myself that I would give them as gifts, but I can't part with them. Enjoy!
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