Books by Carolyn Burke

FOURSOME by Carolyn Burke
Released: March 5, 2019

"A well-researched if surprisingly cool account of sensual artists."
A biography of two of the 20th century's most famous artist couples, who "prodded, inspired, irritated, and encouraged one another as they grew into modes of relationship that none could have foreseen." Read full book review >
NO REGRETS by Carolyn Burke
Released: March 24, 2011

"Though Piaf ruined her health and died young, this lucid, unsentimental appraisal suggests that she had the life she wanted, filled with 'hectic drama' fueled by the singer's 'boundless joie de vivre.'"
Another sharp, culturally resonant biography from Burke (Lee Miller, 2005, etc.)—this one an empathetic depiction of the French chanteuse as famed for her love affairs as for songs like "La vie en rose." Read full book review >
LEE MILLER by Carolyn Burke
Released: Dec. 5, 2005

"Burke's graceful biography restores Miller to attention; students of art photography, in particular, will want a look."
Illuminating life of the once-renowned model, photographer and traveler who drew few distinctions between life and art. Read full book review >
BECOMING MODERN by Carolyn Burke
Released: Feb. 1, 1996

An impressively detailed but cold and disagreeable biography of the neglected modernist poet and visual artist Mina Loy. Born Mina Lowy into a half-Jewish, half-neurotic London household in 1882, the renamed Loy embarked on her artistically and geographically wide-ranging experience of life, which she chronicled in writings that Burke (Literature/Univ. of California, Santa Cruz) has used as the basis for this biography. Loy's story is that of a woman deviating from confining social norms to seek out lovers and husbands and mingle with like-minded artistes in the big-name movements that fermented early in this century: Jugendstil in Munich, Futurism in Florence (Loy had an affair with the movement's leader, Marinetti), Dadaism in Paris and New York. Beginning as a painter, Loy moved on to vers libre and artistic- political manifesto, producing works with names like ``Psycho- Democracy'' and Lunar Baedecker. The weird love of her life was ``poet-boxer'' Arthur Cravan, who fathered her youngest child and then disappeared in a boat off the coast of Mexico. Burke, for all her obviously painstaking research, fails to convey the feel of her subject's personality. Loy comes off as a creature who might just as easily have been invented, pieced together from scraps of her contemporaries for whom we do have a feel: Gertrude Stein, Mabel Dodge, Marcel Duchamp, et al. While we might hail Loy as an early, arty feminist, this image is manipulated so tendentiously by Burke that it is tempting to view her instead as a self-mythologizing groupie-dilettante. It is only late in the book, through descriptions of Loy's attempts to relieve her grinding poverty, that she comes alive in her evoked ingenuity. Readers fascinated by the period of artistic hoppingness in Europe and New York between the wars will be glad of this book; otherwise, better to wait for Farrar Straus's promised (but still unscheduled) reissue of Loy's poetry before committing to read about her. (b&w photos, not seen) Read full book review >