The Art of Rivalry
"Genius, friend, rival: this is the story of four pairs of artists whose intense relationships spurred and shaped their art. Matisse and Picasso. Manet and Degas. Bacon and Freud. De Kooning and Pollock. Eight of the most significant modern artists; four pairs linked by friendship and a shared spirit of competitiveness. But in each case the relationship had a flashpoint, a damaging psychological event that seemed to mark both an end and a beginning, a break that led to audacious creative innovations. Absorbing, informed and provocative, Sebastian Smee's The Art of Rivalry takes us to heart of each of these relationships. It offers revelatory insights into the ways in which these major artists influenced and changed each other:and into their ultimate quest to be unique, original, inimitable; to acquire the solitude, the singularity, of greatness'."
Shortlisted for Walkley Non-Fiction Book Award 2016.
'Vivid and exuberant writing about art...[Smee brings] great works to life with love and appreciation.' Pulitzer citation 'Smee takes readers deep into the beginnings of modern art in a way that not only enlightens, but also builds a stronger appreciation of the influences that created the environment that fostered its development.' Kirkus 'This is magnificent book on the relationships at the roots of artistic genius. Smee offers a gripping tale of the fine line between friendship and competition, tracing how the ties that torment us most are often the ones that inspire us most.' -- Adam Grant, author of Originals and Give and Take 'The keynotes of Sebastian Smee's criticism have always included a fine feeling for the what of art-he knows how to evoke the way pictures really strike the eye-and an equal sense of the how of art: how art emerges from the background of social history. To these he now adds a remarkable capacity for getting down the who of art-the enigma of artists' personalities, and the way that, two at a time, they can often intersect to reshape each in the other's image. With these gifts all on the page together, The Art of Rivalry gives us a remarkable and engrossing book on pretty much the whole of art.' Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon and The Table Comes First 'Modern art's major pairs of frenemies are a subject so fascinating, it's strange to have a book on it only now-and a stroke of luck, for us, that the author is Sebastian Smee. He brings the perfect combination of artistic taste and human understanding, and a prose style as clear as spring water, to the drama and occasional comedy of men who inspired and annoyed one another to otherwise inexplicable heights of greatness.' Peter Schjeldahl, art critic of the New Yorker 'Beautifully written...Illuminating...This ambitious and impressive work is an utterly absorbing read.' STARRED Review, Publishers Weekly