From the hilarity of Picasso's legendary banquet for Le Douanier Rousseau to the grotesque atmosphere of Andy Warhol's "Factory," Anecdotes of Modern Art moves through the modern era surveying the triumphs, miseries, and peculiarities of the world of art. Perhaps no epoch has witnessed more variety and experimentation than ours, with movements such as Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism radically reshaping the visual arts--and the artists connected with these revolutions are often as striking and occasionally as startling as the works they created. The anecdotes presented here--touching on almost 200 painters and sculptors--show what these artists were like, how they responded to the world, and how their work is a reflection of themselves.
Here is the fabled romantic life of Belle Epoch Paris, with Picasso and Braque ("Almost every evening, either I went to Braque's studio or Braque came to mine....A painting wasn't finished unless both of us felt it was"), Suzanne Valadon parading the streets of Paris with a nosegay of lettuce and live snails, and Yves Tanguy's wife hurling a forkful of fish at her husband's mistress, Peggy Guggenheim. And there are the stories of the Cedar Bar crowd--Pollock's legendary drinking, the famous softball games in East Hampton, and de Kooning's working method ("I think I'm painting a picture of two women but it may turn out to be a landscape"). The dark side of the creative life is represented by a number of poignant tales, such as the death of Egon Schiele: Bereft at the thought of his wife's dying, he spent her last night trying to capture her in a portrait, and in so doing contracted the flu himself and died three days later. Other tales are more disturbing, from Soutine's blue, decaying chickens ("I'm going to hang it up by the neck with a nail. In a few days it should be perfect") to Rothko's tragic suicide. And the notorious eccentricities of artists are all here too: Kokoschka's lifesize doll which he took for drives in his carriage, and Dali's obsessive routines (every day he ate the same food in the same restaurants and took the same walks, carrying a little piece of driftwood to ward off evil spirits).
But most of all, Hall and Wykes have brought together some of the most revealing insights into the artistic process itself. From Dufy's theory ("Nature, my dear sir, is only a hypothesis") and Picasso's wisdom ("You can't escape your own period. Whether you takes sides for or against it, you're always inside it"), to Sargent's reflection on the genre for which he is famous ("A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth"), Anecdotes of Modern Art offers a unique glimpse into the private and working lives of many of the best-known artists of the modern era.