Sebastian Smee

discusses

The Art of Rivalry:
Four Friendships, Betrayals, and Breakthroughs in Modern Art

This event includes a book signing

Date

Sep
1
Thursday
September 1, 2016
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes Pulitzer Prize–winning art critic for the Boston Globe SEBASTIAN SMEE for a discussion of his latest book, The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships, Betrayals, and Breakthroughs in Modern Art, the fascinating story of four pairs of artists—Manet and Degas, Picasso and Matisse, Pollock and de Kooning, Freud and Bacon—whose fraught, competitive friendships spurred them to new creative heights.

About The Art of Rivalry

Rivalry is at the heart of some of the most famous and fruitful relationships in history. The Art of Rivalry follows eight celebrated artists, each linked to a counterpart by friendship, admiration, envy, and ambition. All eight are household names today. But to achieve what they did, each needed the influence of a contemporary—one who was equally ambitious but possessed sharply contrasting strengths and weaknesses.

Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas were close associates whose personal bond frayed after Degas painted a portrait of Manet and his wife. Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso swapped paintings, ideas, and influences as they jostled for the support of collectors like Leo and Gertrude Stein and vied for the leadership of a new avant-garde. Jackson Pollock’s uninhibited style of “action painting” triggered a breakthrough in the work of his older rival, Willem de Kooning. After Pollock’s sudden death in a car crash, de Kooning assumed Pollock's mantle and became romantically involved with his late friend’s mistress. Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon met in the early 1950s, when Bacon was being hailed as Britain’s most exciting new painter and Freud was working in relative obscurity. Their intense but asymmetrical friendship came to a head when Freud painted a portrait of Bacon, which was later stolen. 

Each of these relationships culminated in an early flashpoint, a rupture in a budding intimacy that was both a betrayal and a trigger for great innovation. Writing with the same exuberant wit and psychological insight that earned him a Pulitzer Prize for art criticism, Sebastian Smee explores here the way that coming into one’s own as an artist—finding one’s voice—almost always involves willfully breaking away from some intimate’s expectations of who you are or ought to be.

Praise

“This is a 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, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take

“Beautifully written . . . This ambitious and impressive work is an utterly absorbing read about four important relationships in modern art.” —Publishers Weekly 

Sebastian Smee
Sebastian Smee

Sebastian Smee

Sebastian Smee has been The Boston Globe’s art critic since 2008. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2011, having been a runner-up in 2008. He joined the Globe’s staff from Sydney, where he had worked as national art critic for The Australian. Prior to that, he lived for four years in the U.K., where he wrote for The Daily TelegraphThe Guardian, The Art Newspaper, The Independent, Prospect magazine, and The Spectator. He has contributed to five books on Lucian Freud. He teaches nonfiction writing at Wellesley College.

Photo Credit: Pat Greenhouse

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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FAQ:

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Featured event books will be for sale at the event for 20% off. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.
General Info
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