DUNCAN GRANT AND THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP by Douglas Blair Turnbaugh

DUNCAN GRANT AND THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A long-overdue biography of the British Post-Impressionist artist whose once-flourishing reputation--Roger Fry felt he was ""the only painter in England since Sickert whose work could be shown without embarrassment to a cultivated Frenchman""--has waned during the past half-century. This brief, moving evocation of his life and artistic achievements should do much to restore Grant to his former preeminence. One of the most uninhibited members of the artistically and sexually liberated Bloomsbury Group, Duncan Grant was, in addition to being a uniquely talented painter and designer, the lover of scores of men (the economist Maynard Keynes and author Lytton Strachey were among the most famous); the father of a child by Virginia Woolf's sister, Vanessa Bell; a friend of such literary, musical, and artistic titans as Gertrude Stein, E.M Forster, Vaslav Nijinsky, Benjamin Britten, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse, among others. His life was, in short, a biographer's dream. Happily, Turnbaugh does it full justice; his research is scrupulously thorough, his writing erudite yet lively. Nor does the author shy away from the details of Grant's unfettered homosexuality, a subject earlier biographers of Keynes and Strachey studiously avoided. As a result, the work is also a compelling portrait of English gay life between the passage of the Labouchere Amendment of 1885, under which Oscar Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labor, and the enactment of The Homosexual Bill of 1967, which decriminalized sex acts between consenting adult males. The biography includes more than a hundred superbly chosen illustrations, both informal photographs and plates of Grant's works. An important and revealing commentary not only on modern English art, but on the development of British social justice as well.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1987
Publisher: Lyle Stuart