The Art of Love

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 23 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

Art is always a fascinating subject and learning about the life of some of its most infamous figures was equally so.
There were tons of trivia I didn't know.

I would like to thank the publisher and netgalley for giving me a chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I really wanted to enjoy this book - as I am a big fan of art history in general, however I couldn't connect with the writing style and the illustrations weren't my favourite either.
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This was cute, but sometime I feel like romantized relationships that  were really toxic and unhealty (Like Khalo an Rivera), otherwise will be a great book for me.
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My review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Art of Love by Kate Bryan and illustrated by Asli Yazan gives brief overviews of artists relationships and of their art.  There are illustrations by Asli Yazan throughout, to give you an idea of the art produced by these artists.

I think of this type of book as coffee table book.  It's there to dip in and out of, to admire how attractive it is, and to educate you a little in something new.

I found myself often googling pictures of the art as there are typically 2 illustrations per couple, and sometimes I wanted to see the real thing!

I don't know a lot about art, and this was a great introduction to a lot of artists, and giving you a little more to understand about them, and the context of their relationship and their art.

It is a lovely book, and feels like a good starting point if you want more information about these artists!

The Art of Love was published on 2nd July 2019,  and is available to buy on Amazon  and on Waterstones.  I've found a link to where you can search for local bookshops, including independent!

You can follow Kate Bryan on Instagram, or through her website.

You can follow Asli Yazan through her website.

I was given this book for free in return for an unbiased review, so my thanks to NetGalley and to Quatro Publishing (the publishers) for this book.

Check out my GoodReads profile to see more reviews!
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I read a book recently that tried to show a whole series of interconnections between artists – this one inspired this one, who worked with that one, who shagged those others.  One of the things it showed me was how many managed to hop beds from one artist to another, with no end of toing and froing.  This is to some extent a counter to that, for while non-marital relationships are definitely here, it sticks to firmer pairs of artists – those who either collaborated, or worked completely apart from each other – and looks at their relationships, both in and of biographical data and in the light of their output.

It also acts counter to the previous book by going into the realms of the unknown – I defy the average man on the average bus to know some of the names here, even if they are parents to Lena Dunham.  You get stories of conjugal and creative perfection (Christo and Jeanne-Claude, for one obvious example), but also the mind-boggling, such as a certain woman's plummeting death, potentially at the hands of a jealous partner, and an even more unfathomable break-up, somewhere on the Great Wall of China.  Those rarefied instances do sort of prove this book is more for the lovers of trivial, for it does not quite fit into any other category.  As the introduction attests, the art is what we should look at, not so much the private life, so you can learn the details of their existence but not really take that into our understanding of their oeuvres.  It does act as a survey of how many women-artists-married-to-male-artists-who-really-have-had-a-bum-rap there have been, but I'd want more from a book than a blatant, simplified corrective to those issues.  It's a book that points to a lot of targets, then, and never really hits any.  I never really regretted my time with it, but whereas this might have had a unifying thesis of the art world as produced by couples, this remains only for pleasant, smallest-room browsing.
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This was an interesting and enjoyable book about the often tumultuous romances of art's greatest couples. As Bryan writes, romances between artists raise lots of issues, such as how does the relationship affect the work, where do they work and the prospect of competition between them. Many of the women artists in the book suffered from 'little woman syndrome,' such as Sonia Delaunay, so it is good to see that she gives them their due.  Others had to be very strong and independent to get ahead, and to not let their relationships destroy them or destroy their art. Georgia O'Keefe, for example, would not put her art into all-women exhibitions.

My favourite couple were the Delaunays who were so in sync that they described their art as 'simultaneity'! I like the bright colours and modernist designs of Sonia Delaunay and I was pleased that she regarded her decorative work as equal to her paintings.


This is well-worth reading for anyone who likes art, and is interested in the love affairs of great artists.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.
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This was a very interesting overview of the relationships (romantic, scandalous, tragic, etc.) between artists. I was glad to see that even though she covered many couples and each segment was short, the author didn't just look and the "romantic" aspect, but also described the power dynamics in these relationships, whose voices and expression were silenced, who was erased. I do wish actual images of the artists' work had been included, but that's my only caveat.
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The author's painstaking research and attention to detail is obvious in the writing of this book.  There were many facts that I only discovered after reading this!
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The Art of Love by Kate Bryan is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early July.

34 mixed and same sex couples between artists, their muses, partners and/or artists in their own right who find love and intimacy with someone like or unlike them, fame in art leading to rivalry, many dalliances and progeny, and working together or apart in a way that can complement or delineate. There are line drawings made from photographs, really big font, and biographies of relationships told in slightly out-of-order clumps of events. Ahh, one of the couples (Marina Abramovic and Ulay) are from the Documentary Now! “The Artist is Present” parody.
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This ARC was kindly sent to me by the publishers in term for an honest review. 

I thought that the concept of this book would be very nice and something I would consider purchasing for myself or as a gift (cute Valentine's day gift, anyone?) for other art historians in my life. Each chapter in the book is devoted to the story of a relationship between two artists and the impacts that it did or did not leave on their work.

Right upfront I want to say that I appreciated Bryan's commitment to sharing lgbt artists and their relationships., which are not often included in these kinds of publications. I think it was refreshing and I learned more about these relationships than I think I would have otherwise.  My favorite chapter was Lili Elbe & Gerda Wegene, who I know very little about. 

However, I struggled with the organization of this book. The chapters themselves are not organized in a chronological way which leads to some confusion about the timelines of each artist's lives. The chapters are also not arranged in any particular kind of order which leads to a confusing reading experience. For example, Dada is finally defined on page 73 (in the chapter about Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp) despite being name-dropped a few times in previous chapters. It is impossible to glean a sense of the evolution of art history when the chapters jump back and forth between late nineteenth and early twenty-first century. This book could have benefited from being organized either chronologically or by theme. I think organizing by theme would also have helped each chapter come together to form a coherent statement or identity which this book does not at present have. 

Bryan also suggested at the beginning that she would make an effort to describe female artist's on their own terms. However, her analysis plays into the same tired tropes of female artists that have been written again and again. For example, Frida Kahlo's work is contrasted with Diego Rivera's work in the following way: "Rivera was a famous muralist [...] His work was literal, vast, public, and political. Kahlo, by contrast was a more intimate artist in every respect [...] her subjects were always personal [...]" (p. 19.) This is simply not true and despite the way that Kahlo's legacy has been sanitized, she made a significant amount of political artwork (her 1932 painting 'Self Portrait Along the Boarder Line Between Mexico and the United States' comes to mind.) There are other quibbles I have, like the artist Jeanne-Claude being described as her partner Christo's "flame-haired beautifully furious diplomat," (p, 29) or Lee Miller being described as "the apprentice, muse, lover and collaborator of surrealist artist Man Ray" (p. 52.) I am having trouble reconciling these kinds of descriptions with Bryan's promise to address female artists on their own terms. 

The writing of this book is full of generic platitudes that sometimes leave me scratching my head. Relationships are "destined to be in a fertile landscape of their joint imagination" (p. 61)  or other such statements. Most puzzlingly are art-historical assessments like this one, which are not backed up by any kind of source or evidence: "Duchamp is considered to be the most influential artist of the twentieth century. Pablo Picasso may be the greatest, but he is a breed of singular genius, someone to be feared and respected but not openly emulated" (p. 69.) I think most contemporary artists would be enormously surprised that they apparently should not (or do not) interact with Picasso's word.

I will end with something I very much did enjoy: the illustrations. I thought that they were beautiful and charming, if at times at odds with the horrific abuse and rampant infidelity sometimes described in these relationships. I will definitely be looking forward to seeing more of this artist's work in the future. 

I think this book would be a good option as a gift for someone who enjoys art history as the images promise to make it a pretty gift.
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The Art of Love is an interesting look at how artistic endeavor and relations affect and define creative work. Author Kate Bryan uses short biographic backgrounds to give a glimpse into how (or if) the artists' art and lives intersected one another.

Due out 2nd July 2019 from Quarto on their White Lion imprint, it's 184 pages and will be available in ebook and hardcover formats. The ebook version is available now. It's unclear from the publishing info, but the eARC I received for review includes an interactive table of contents with direct links to each of the 34 couples included as well as a hyperlinked index. (Very handy).

There's an erudite well written introduction by the author which represents about 6% of the page content. She includes some of the philosophy behind her treatment of the subject, along with some very interesting observations about the interactions and dynamics of personal and professional interactions in artistic partnerships. How did they relate to one another, how they traversed the different levels of fame in their art, etc. Reading the foreword enhanced my understanding and enjoyment of the biographies. Each of the section headings is nicely illustrated by Asli Yazan. There are no interior photos with any of the included artists' works, but Yazan's line drawings represent some of the artists' works. I'm not sure how I feel about that, it might be almost imitative, on the other hand, there were several places I thought to myself  "Ah, that's who originally did this piece of artwork".

I was not familiar with all of the included artists, and there were some couples with whose work I was only familiar with one and not the other.  The couples in the book are all drawn from the last 140 years; starting with Camille Claudel&Auguste Rodin to the present day. The couples are a mixed bunch, from married heterosexual couples, gay men, gay women, and one passionate but unconsummated platonic relationship. There are artists represented from many different cultures and ethnicities.

This would make a good selection for art interested readers, fans of the included artists, and a good library book or gift.

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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A book about art a book about love.Some of the most famous lovers behind famous pieces of art.This is a delicious informative intimate look at the relationships the drama the arguments the ups the downs that helped birth  great art work.Perfect book for all art lovers lovers of delicious gossip. .#netgalley #quartopublishing
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I am quintessentially romantic, so this intriguing title drew me like a heartbeat. It tells the amorous tales of some of the art world’s most renown couples. I was indeed entranced, and found the idea and stories totally inspiring. The illustrations, however, were not my romantic nor artistic cup of tea. 4/5 

Pub Date 02 Jul 2019. 

Thanks to the author, Quarto Publishing Group - White Lion Publishing, and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. 

#TheArtOfLove #NetGalley
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