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. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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