Painter, musician, bibliophile...
"How does art get done? Why, often, does it not get done? And what is the nature of the difficulties that stop so many who start?"
These are the questions the authors ask, and more importantly, answer, in this concise, brilliant book. By turns philosophical and pragmatic, insightful and witty, ART AND FEAR is a gift for the creative soul.
It's valuable to working artists, artists who have given up, and artists who have yet to begin.
And if you remove the charged word "artist," one might say it's valuable to anyone who struggles to create anything.
You need not be writing a symphony or a novel, dancing a principal role, or attempting to release a sculpture from a hulking block of marble. Maybe you're designing a dress, creating a new dish, keeping an illustrated journal, or teaching yourself to play a ukulele. What creative thing you do isn't the point. Continuing to do it is:
"What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don't quit."
This is at the heart of the authors' message. They've written it to help us figure out how to stay in that first group. To stay in it, you must be able to combat fear, which includes facing any issues, preconceptions, misunderstandings, or even delusions about yourself or anyone else that may be holding you back from doing your work. What is involved will be as individual as your work. There are no easy answers or magic formulae. But it can be done, and is, every day you refuse to give up.
When my brother gave me this book, I didn't hold out much hope, but I kept my reservations to myself. After all, I'd read a sea of books about creativity, many of which turned out to be filled with useless pop psych clichés and other nonsense. But this one is different. It provides something deep and true, something everyone who creates can use.
Or as another artist friend said, "This is the straight stuff, straight up."
Indeed it is, and it just might change your creative life.
This is a great story and I highly recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in art or true crime. There are so many characters, lines of inquiry, and bits of history woven through the story, and a feeling of "being there" in real time. The authors' style and organization in handling such a complex story are admirable. Writing about art in an engaging way is tough, but these two keep the story moving all the way to the end.
The authors portray Myatt with great sympathy. Most of the time, his part in the crimes is downplayed, as if being a good father and going to church were enough to offset the rest. In fact, he willingly participated in the scheme for 8 years before Drewe began acting ever more erratic and Myatt feared he'd end up in jail with him.
Maybe Myatt is just the sort of criminal people love, one who got one over on the establishment. He fell into Dulux emulsion and came up with gold!
Unfortunately, the narrator sounds like a computer speaking the words, with no pacing or character to her voice, and mispronunciations abound. Plus, as this is a story about a couple of British cons and much of the action has to do with London, why not get an English narrator?
A quick check to update the afterword was revealing. In a nutshell, Drewe was sentenced to prison again in 2012 for defrauding an elderly woman of her fortune; Mary Lisa Palmer was thrown under the bus by the Giacometti Foundation; John Myatt continues to sell "real fakes" and make appearances on telly.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to refresh their previous study of art history, as well as to students who need a concise introduction. Tourists can benefit from the book also: it is a valuable adjunct to European museum visits and city walks. Whitfield takes us on a whirlwind tour of major artistic themes and styles, mostly European, from cave paintings to the edge of postmodernism. Comberti's reading is pleasant and well-paced. The only thing that's missing: the paintings themselves. Having a visual art reference on hand is recommended. I'm an artist, so the subject fascinates me. But I believe anyone can benefit from reading this accessible guide, free from pretentious "art speak."