Lives of the Painters

Journey through art history with this collection of fiction based on the lives of Old Masters or their works. Experience the Italian Renaissance through the eyes of female artist Artemisia Gentileschi. See how Russian politics unfold in Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo's Mexican home. Travel through time with a Vermeer painting. Visit gay Paris with Van Gogh's sister-in-law. Find out what's nagging da Vinci on his death bed...

Jackson Pollock: An American Saga

By Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith

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Take an in-depth look at the life of Jackson Pollock, one of the most influential and controversial artists of the twentieth century.

On Film:
Pollock, the 2000 film based on Naifeh and Smith's biography, stars Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden. Ed Harris delivers one of the best performances of his life and Harden's portrayal of Pollock's wife, Lee Krasner, earned her the 2001 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. For more on Jackson Pollock, be sure to watch the documentary Jackson Pollock: Love and Death on Long Island.

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Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo

By Hayden Herrera

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This engrossing biography of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo reveals a woman of extreme magnetism and originality, an artist whose sensual vibrancy came straight from her own experiences: her childhood near Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution; a devastating accident at age eighteen that left her crippled and unable to bear children; her tempestuous marriage to muralist Diego Rivera and intermittent love affairs with men as diverse as Isamu Noguchi and Leon Trotsky; her association with the Communist Party; her absorption in Mexican folklore and culture; and her dramatic love of spectacle.

On Film:
Salma Hayek delivers one of the best performances of her career in Frida, a vividly imaginative film based on Herrera's biography of the fascinating Frida Kahlo.

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Waking Raphael

By Leslie Forbes

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La Muta, the mute woman.
"Amidst a country rocked by scandal and corruption, inhabitants of the idyllic city of Urbino, Italy, birthplace of Raphael, are more concerned with a sudden outbreak of miracles than with politics. But what unspeakable secret lies hidden in Raphael's enigmatic painting? Its restoration will drive a living mute to a shocking act of violence and spark an investigation into a nearly forgotten war crime and a series of events that will shatter the silence gripping this community forever. Both a mesmerizing thriller and a passionate exploration of the power of truth to effect reconciliation and restore faith, Waking Raphael spins a tantalizing web of silence and lies to recreate an Italy where the romantic and the violent, the comic and the tragic, are spell-bindingly interwoven."

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The Passion of Artemisia

By Susan Vreeland

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"...chronicles the extraordinary life of Artemisia Gentileschi, the first woman to make a significant contribution to art history. At age eighteen, Artemisia Gentileschi finds herself humiliated in papal court for publicly accusing the man who raped her-Agostino Tassi, her painting teacher. When even her father does not stand up for her, she knows she cannot stay in Rome and begs to have a marriage arranged for her. Her new husband, an artist named Pietro Stiatessi, takes her to his native Florence, where her talent for painting blossoms and she becomes the first woman to be elected to the Accademia dell'Arte. But marriage clashes with Artemisia's newfound fame as a painter, and she begins a lifelong search to reconcile painting and motherhood, passion and genius."
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Life Studies: Stories

By Susan Vreeland

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"...a deeply moving, richly textured collection of stories that explore art through the eyes of ordinary people. Rather than focusing directly on great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists like Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, and Modigliani, Vreeland shifts her lens to those on the periphery-—their lovers, servants, children, and neighbors-—showing their personal stories as they play out against the artists' lives. Counterbalancing these historic stories are an equal number of contemporary tales in which her characters-—a teacher, a construction worker, and an orphan-—encounter art in meaningful, sometimes surprising ways."
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Leonardo's Chair

By John DeSimone

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Victor LaBont is a world--class artist who attributes his creative ability to a chair he owns. When his home catches fire and Victor is severely burned trying to rescue the chair, he realizes the chair was stolen before the house was burned.

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The Memory Cathedral

By Jack Dann

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In a historical novel blending fact and fiction, Leonardo builds the flying machine he long dreamt of and journeys from the Renaissance West to the mythical East, where he is captured by Persians and sees his invention used for ill.

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The Agony and the Ecstasy

By Irving Stone

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Dramatizes the life of the Renaissance artistic genius Michelangelo, recalls his love affairs, his disputes with cardinals and popes, and his years of working on the Sistine Chapel.

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Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper

By Harriet Scott Chessman

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Set in the Parisian art world of the 1880s, this novel imagines a poignant time in the lives of the American impressionist Mary Cassatt and her sister, Lydia. Fatally ill and conscious of impending death, Lydia contemplates her narrowing world.
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Leonardo's Horse

By R.M. Berry

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"On May 2, 1519 at the Clos Luce in Amboise, Leonardo is dying. He no longer cares about art or science. He wants only to answer a simple question about his life: why did he abandon his colossal equestrian statue in Milan? Meanwhile, R-, a 20th century historian writing a novel about Leonardo, meditates upon the same question in the midst of an apocalyptic traffic jam, as military helicopters fill the air with tear gas, AIDS demonstrators run amok, and a hospital evacuates its patients onto a nearby sidewalk."

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