Nothing like completing a reading challenge at the last minute! My goal was to read six art history books, fiction or non-fiction, during 2009. I finished my sixth book last week, Life Studies by Susan Vreeland. It’s a collection of short stories divided into three sections: stories concerning Impressionists and Post-Impressionists; a lovely tale about friendship and art; and current art stories.
I think I made the mistake of reading the book like a novel, one story after another. After awhile the stories felt a little repetitive and dull. I probably would have enjoyed all of them more if I had read a story, moved on to something else, and then returned for another story. That being said, there were three stories that I’ve thought of multiple times: “In the Absence of Memory,” “The Adventures of Bernardo and Salvatore, or, The Cure: A Tale,” and “The Things He Didn’t Know.”
Modigliani was a brilliant painter and a drunk. He died leaving a young daughter who is raised by his mother and sister. “In the Absence of Memory” concerns her effort to reconcile being the daughter of a great artist and an awful man. Vreeland paints heartache, desire, betrayal and confusion in this small short story. The plot follows the daughter from elementary school, when she is teased for being the bastard daughter of a drunk, to Modigliani’s show at the Venice Biennial, to her visit to Modigliani’s haunts in Paris. It’s a daughter’s quest to understand a father she never knew.
In Hollywood language, “The Adventures of Bernardo and Salvatore, or, The Cure: A Tale” is an art road trip meets The Bucket List. Bernardo decides one day that he is ill and will die. Salvatore, his best friend, does all he can to cajole him out of bed. Bernardo mentions that he would like to see the Read the rest of this entry »