lnterviews and commentary on the nature of genius as manifest in a highly personal list of ten: visual artists Picasso,...

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IN SEARCH OF GENIUS

lnterviews and commentary on the nature of genius as manifest in a highly personal list of ten: visual artists Picasso, Miro, Chagall, Dali; writers Graves, Cocteau, Giono; tapestry-maker Lurcat; filmmaker Rosselini; mime Marceau. The reader will find the banal, the Freudian, the mawkish--as well as some arresting lines. Says Giono: ""I don't believe in inspiration. I don't believe it exists. I believe in continuous work . . . I write steadily without errors or corrections, and that is what is printed."" Or Rosselini: ""For me the great tragedy is that film has become so organized."" Or Pieasso: ""I work. That's all. Painting is manual; it is physical. You have a blank piece of canvas. The picture is already there. You scrape for it."" To his credit, Fifield (Modigliani) brought sufficient reading and study to his interviews to elicit lengthy responses from his subjects. With some--Dali, Graves, Chagall--the river of irrationality runs high and the reader's patience wears thin. But the long focus on Picasso, as writer as well as painter, is instructive; the habits of Miro, Cocteau, and Lurcat, combined with their reminiscences, are rich and flavorful. (For what it's worth, Fifield files his ""coordinates of genius"" table at the end: two Jews, two (possible) Arabs, three ""hyperintelligent,"" eight ""rootedness in primitive,"" three ""precocity,"" three ""longevity,"" six poets, four ""hypernatural energy."") Precious and arbitrary, then; but with points of aesthetic and biographical interest as well.

Pub Date: Dec. 16, 1982

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1982