“Brilliantly illuminating . . . This latter-day Vasari puts his dry wit and keen eye to work in fashioning enduring portraits of ten contemporary-art stars, tracing the fruits of creative genius back to their strange roots.”—Vogue
For more than four decades Calvin Tomkins’s incisive profiles in The New Yorker have given readers the most satisfying reports on contemporary art and artists available in any language. In Lives of the Artists ten major artists are captured in Tomkins’s cool and ironic style to record the new directions art is taking during these days of limitless freedom. With the decline of formal technique and rigorous training, art has become, among other things, an approach to living. As Tomkins says, “the lives of contemporary artists are today so integral to what they make that the two cannot be considered in isolation.”
Among the artists profiled are Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, the reigning heirs of deliberately outrageous art; Matthew Barney of the pregenital obsessions; Cindy Sherman, who manages multiple transformations as she disappears into her own work; and Julian Schnabel, who has forged a second career as an award-winning film director. Whatever the choice, the making of art remains among the most demanding jobs on earth.