SHOCKING PARIS

SOUTINE, CHAGALL AND THE OUTSIDERS OF MONTPARNASSE

Meisler throws new light on Soutine and, more broadly, on the experiences of aspiring immigrant artists in the city that...

The story of immigrant artists who were celebrated as the School of Paris.

Histories of bohemian Paris usually feature Matisse, Picasso and their circle. Former Los Angeles Times diplomatic correspondent Meisler (When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years, 2011, etc.) takes a fresh view by highlighting three artistic iconoclasts who happened to be Jewish immigrants: Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), Marc Chagall (1887-1985) and, the author’s central focus, Chaim Soutine (1893-1943). Critic André Warnod publicized them as the School of Paris, talented foreigners who emigrated, he said, with “hardly anything else in their baggage but the will to enrich their art with what they find among us.” Meisler found considerable material to document the lives and works of Modigliani and Chagall, but Soutine proved elusive. With no letters, memoirs or personal notes to draw upon, the author still puts together a vivid portrait of a difficult, irascible man, markedly unlike the gregarious Chagall or suave Modigliani. Unattractive and noticeably unkempt, Soutine’s emotional temperament emerged in his work: A predominant trait “was the thickness of the paint with its dynamic swirls, bolstering the belief that the artist must have attacked the canvas in some kind of frenzy.” When a painting failed to meet his expectations, he violently slashed it. Meisler finds recurring instances of Soutine’s “paralytic shyness, his foolish naiveté, his volatile anger and his sometimes-cursed relations with those who wanted to embrace him.” Among those were a wealthy patron, Madeleine Castaing, whom Meisler interviewed; and Albert Barnes, the eccentric collector who discovered Soutine during an early buying trip. Soutine’s works, Barnes exclaimed, “were a surprise, if not a shock….I felt he was making creative use of certain traits of the work of Bosch, Tintoretto, Van Gogh, Daumier and Cézanne, and was getting new effects with color.”

Meisler throws new light on Soutine and, more broadly, on the experiences of aspiring immigrant artists in the city that fostered their dreams.

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-137-27880-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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