Artists Who Kill & Other Essays on Art
Cover illustration by Edward Gorey
June 22, 2023 / 670 pages
ISBN 9798218173432 Paperback / $27.99
ISBN 9798218173494 Hardcover / $34.99
Alexander Theroux's first book of essays, filled with lore and rich anecdote, opens up an entirely new world of art for us. One of America's most illustrious writers, twice nominated for the National Book Award, the distinguished novelist and poet leaves us in this major compilation on the subjectvirtually operatic in scope and, in span, nothing less than fully informativea gripping, fact-filled, intoxicating panoply of 23 seminal pieces ranging from passionate artists driven to kill to winning, witty, and truly unparalleled takes on plaid, the art of revenge, cigar box art, and the Penitentes of Santa Fé. We read about gaffes in painting, the paradoxes of soft art, blind painters, and dabblers from movies, politics, and the stage fascinated in their private lives, often secretly, with painting. His essay "Magpies," about the fanatical extremes of collecting, alone is a taxonomic masterpiece.
We encounter in the pages of this massive book no end of celebrated but controversial geniuses and creators, from Raphael to the illustrator R. Crumb, from Jan Vermeer to Maurice Sendak, from Botticelli and his lovely model Simonetta Vespucci to Charles Schultz of Peanuts fame, from the naivist Ralph Cahoon to the genius of Fritz Eichenberg, the nonpareil of wood engravers, to the many world masters fixated on painting black canvases.
Entertaining and readable, scintillating and quick-witted, Theroux has written a book with an immediacy, compassion, and memorable insight, that surely rings with timeless and universal appeal.