Title: DIEGO RIVERA
Publisher: Abrams, New York
Publication Date: 1999
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: fine
Edition: First printing.
Square Sm 4to. Red cloth, with gilt spine titles and gilt cover design. Peach end papers. 207 pages, with Index. With 107 illustrations, including 59 in full color. No names or marks. In illustrated dust-jacket (with price intact). A crisp, as new copy. Bookseller Inventory # 2699
Synopsis: Diego Rivera is regarded as one of the greatest Mexican artists of the 20th century - an audacious muralist, voracious lover and ardent leftist who befriended Picasso, married Frida Kahlo and quarrelled with Leon Trotsky. In this part-biography, part-appreciation, writer Pete Hamill turns a novelist's eye to Rivera's tempestuous career. In this volume filled with reproductions and documentary photographs, Hamill shows how, despite the political passions, Rivera created a body of work that still astonishes.
Review: In another life, before becoming one of the best known and most popular journalists in New York and the author of the bestselling memoir A Drinking Life, Pete Hamill studied art on the GI Bill in Mexico City. Upon seeing the monumental work of José Clemente Orozco, however, he abruptly lost his nerve: "It seemed an act of self-delusion to try to be a painter."
After 44 years, Hamill has found a way to integrate his early affair with art, his lifelong love of Mexico, and his narrative gifts in this riveting and lushly illustrated book on Diego Rivera, Mexico's best-known, widely loved muralist. Hamill's text, he says, was completed before the publication of Patrick Marnham's Dreaming with His Eyes Open: A Life of Diego Rivera. This one is less scholarly but respectably researched, and Hamill's fervent opinions on which of Rivera's works are worthy and which are the sad effluvia of a Communist Party hack are remarkably persuasive. Hamill's esthetic judgment has led him to avoid reproducing any second-rate clunkers. He has chosen the great murals, paintings, and drawings that suit the godlike stature of this outsize artist who lied, cheated, womanized, and evaded responsibility his entire life, but who worked like a demon in the service of his art.
Rivera's shabby genteel childhood; his flight to France during the 10-year Mexican Revolution, during which nearly a tenth of his countrymen died; his callous abandonment of his first wife; his ugly political gambits and high-flown society contacts; his ultimately sad relationships with both men and women--Hamill weaves it all into a fantastic read. The book is not as balanced as Dreaming with His Eyes Open, but is nonetheless a passionate first look at an artist whose complicated life will probably still be examined decades from now. --Peggy Moorman
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