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The Art of the Affair: An Illustrated History of Love, Sex, and Artistic Influence

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A vibrantly illustrated chain of entanglements (romantic and otherwise) between some of our best-loved writers and artists of the twentieth century--fascinating, scandalous, and surprising. Poet Robert Lowell died of a heart attack, clutching a portrait of his lover, Caroline Blackwood, painted by her ex-husband, Lucian Freud. Lowell was on his way to see his own ex-wife, A vibrantly illustrated chain of entanglements (romantic and otherwise) between some of our best-loved writers and artists of the twentieth century--fascinating, scandalous, and surprising. Poet Robert Lowell died of a heart attack, clutching a portrait of his lover, Caroline Blackwood, painted by her ex-husband, Lucian Freud. Lowell was on his way to see his own ex-wife, Elizabeth Hardwick, who was a longtime friend of Mary McCarthy. McCarthy left the father of her child to marry Edmund Wilson, who had encouraged her writing, and had also brought critical attention to the fiction of Anaïs Nin . . . whom he later bedded. And so it goes, the long chain of love, affections, and artistic influences among writers, musicians, and artists that weaves its way through the The Art of the Affair--from Frida Kahlo to Colette to Hemingway to Dali; from Coco Chanel to Stravinsky to Miles Davis to Orson Welles. Scrupulously researched but playfully prurient, cleverly designed and colorfully illustrated, it's the perfect gift for your literary lover--and the perfect read for any good-natured gossip-monger.


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A vibrantly illustrated chain of entanglements (romantic and otherwise) between some of our best-loved writers and artists of the twentieth century--fascinating, scandalous, and surprising. Poet Robert Lowell died of a heart attack, clutching a portrait of his lover, Caroline Blackwood, painted by her ex-husband, Lucian Freud. Lowell was on his way to see his own ex-wife, A vibrantly illustrated chain of entanglements (romantic and otherwise) between some of our best-loved writers and artists of the twentieth century--fascinating, scandalous, and surprising. Poet Robert Lowell died of a heart attack, clutching a portrait of his lover, Caroline Blackwood, painted by her ex-husband, Lucian Freud. Lowell was on his way to see his own ex-wife, Elizabeth Hardwick, who was a longtime friend of Mary McCarthy. McCarthy left the father of her child to marry Edmund Wilson, who had encouraged her writing, and had also brought critical attention to the fiction of Anaïs Nin . . . whom he later bedded. And so it goes, the long chain of love, affections, and artistic influences among writers, musicians, and artists that weaves its way through the The Art of the Affair--from Frida Kahlo to Colette to Hemingway to Dali; from Coco Chanel to Stravinsky to Miles Davis to Orson Welles. Scrupulously researched but playfully prurient, cleverly designed and colorfully illustrated, it's the perfect gift for your literary lover--and the perfect read for any good-natured gossip-monger.

30 review for The Art of the Affair: An Illustrated History of Love, Sex, and Artistic Influence

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    "The Art of the Affair: An Illustrated History of Love, Sex, and Artistic Influence" is a delightful entertaining brief read by multi-award winning author Catherine Lacey, recognized for her novels featuring YA themes and Women's Fiction, she is writing a book of short stories to be released in 2017, Lacey is based out of Chicago. There are about a hundred famous celebrity actors, musicians, authors, artists briefly written about, also lesser known individuals associated with the celebrity, that "The Art of the Affair: An Illustrated History of Love, Sex, and Artistic Influence" is a delightful entertaining brief read by multi-award winning author Catherine Lacey, recognized for her novels featuring YA themes and Women's Fiction, she is writing a book of short stories to be released in 2017, Lacey is based out of Chicago. There are about a hundred famous celebrity actors, musicians, authors, artists briefly written about, also lesser known individuals associated with the celebrity, that talk revealing personal details that may have invited scandal at the time. Celebrities dish on other celebrities, readers will appreciate the numerous excellent color drawings of those featured, the dates and circumstances of death are often noted where acceptable. Some of the celebrities briefly written about: Chelsea Girls--Andy Warhol (and associates), Madonna, Lou Reed, Allen Ginsberg. The Way Your Blood Beats: Georgia O'Keefe, Frida Kahlo, James Baldwin, Tennessee Williams, Langston Hughes. Famous books and the authors who wrote them: Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald/Zelda. The Stud File: Stein/Toklas. Isadora Duncan, Pablo Picasso, Greta Garbo/Mercedes de Acosta. Music Is My Mistress: Louis Armstrong/Lil Hardin, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Marilyn Monroe. The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name: The most famous scandal of all time that involved Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas. Natalie Barney's father was so repulsed by her brief engagement to Douglas he stopped pressuring her to marry. Numerous others are included: Truman Capote, Walt Whitman. When The Wicked Man: Features story brief's about Colette, CoCo Chanel, Ford Madox Ford, Hemingway Martha Gellhorn, Jean Rhys, Robert Lowell's love for his beautiful young mistress that became his third wife. Some of the stories are very well known, others not as much. The book can be read in one sitting. With thanks to the Seattle Public Library, I hope to purchase a copy for reference.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    I usually love little illustrated books like this, like Samantha Hahn's Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines. And I like getting bite-sized accounts of notable people with pictures, like in Design Museum: Fifty Fashion Designers That Changed the World. But The Art of the Affair really missed the mark for me. It's hard to follow, inconsistent, and leaves you wanting more. And I didn't care for the illustrations. Since "affair" is right in the title, I was expecting juicy a I usually love little illustrated books like this, like Samantha Hahn's Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines. And I like getting bite-sized accounts of notable people with pictures, like in Design Museum: Fifty Fashion Designers That Changed the World. But The Art of the Affair really missed the mark for me. It's hard to follow, inconsistent, and leaves you wanting more. And I didn't care for the illustrations. Since "affair" is right in the title, I was expecting juicy accounts of famous and creative types' love lives. Well, as Catherine Lacey admits in the introduction, this book plays fast and loose with the term "affair." Being friends or recording albums together doesn't count as an affair—this book reads more like six degrees of separation. Some of the connections are tenuous at best: for example, Tallulah Bankhead being a fan of Louis Armstrong. Why is this even mentioned? It's not important. The title is misleading This book is very confusing. There are dotted lines with arrows throughout the book, zigzagging among illustrations of historical figures with no rhyme or reason. Eventually, I began to follow things better, but I had to adjust to the confusing writing style. This book was in desperate need of clear cut organization, a better editor, and an index at the back of the book. Many times I would come across a famous person mentioned in one person's section who I had come across before. The names of important players are in bold, but since there's no index, there's no easy way to go back and look at their pages. I also didn't like how some people and their affairs are given lengthy descriptions, while other sections lack that detail. It needed a more consistent format. For many, there is no explanation of why they are of note or famous. Are they just famous for loving famous people or did they have a noteworthy career in their own right? This particularly bothered me on the pages devoted to lesbians, who are given especially short shrift. What are Élisabeth de Gramont or Renée Vivien's claims to fame? I don't know, because I'd never heard of them before and Catherine Lacey doesn't see fit to tell us. And it's not like these are household names like Marilyn Monroe or Andy Warhol. The book also proves itself very inconsistent because some people do get really well-written write-ups, like Lee Miller. I wish every section was as highly detailed as this one. It would have improved the quality and the tone of the book. As it is, this book just makes me want to research these individuals and their affairs myself. I didn't care for the illustration style of Forsyth Harmon. Extremely famous people like Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald aren't given very good likenesses, and I would think it would be easiest to capture the iconic faces. I was also troubled by the apparent whitewashing of the artwork. Louis Armstrong is painted as much more light-skinned than he actually was. And on a page about Jean Toomer, which revolves around his marriage to Margery Latimer being illegal due to anti-miscegenation laws, you can't even tell Toomer is supposed to be black. The way the subjects of The Art of the Affair are presented makes them all seem insufferable, like people you wouldn't want to meet. And these are compelling people! Complex and flawed, but fascinating people. And here, Lacey makes them seem unappealing. The people she recounts are extra, and not in a good way. If you've come for a good time roundup of affairs, you're in for a disappointment. Half the "relationships" recounted here come nowhere near an affair. You'd be better off visiting the blog Old Loves for relationship dirt.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Becky - Pug and Books

    The Art of the Affair: An Illustrated History of Love, Sex, and Artistic Influence by Catherine Lacey and Forsyth Harmon Star rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5 stars Format: hardback Summary: This is a short look at connections between artists, most romantic but quite a few platonic as well. Review: I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads. I wasn't sure what I was expecting of this book but it was a bit strange. The way it is written is a lot of short blurbs and dotted lines connecting artists. It's a b The Art of the Affair: An Illustrated History of Love, Sex, and Artistic Influence by Catherine Lacey and Forsyth Harmon Star rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5 stars Format: hardback Summary: This is a short look at connections between artists, most romantic but quite a few platonic as well. Review: I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads. I wasn't sure what I was expecting of this book but it was a bit strange. The way it is written is a lot of short blurbs and dotted lines connecting artists. It's a bit rambling and non-linear, sometimes making it hard to follow. Some of the people I didn't know but there was usually enough in the text to figure out what they did. I was glad to see how the authors didn't shy away from including LGBT+ people and relationships. There were a lot of bisexual people I hadn't been aware of before, which was pretty cool. I wish that the authors would have gone more into the sources where they found evidence of some of them really would have been nice. It felt more like a pamphlet than anything else. The information is thrown at you in small chunks like you would find in an informational pamphlet. I was really hoping for more. I didn't want these people's life stories but more than a couple sentences would have really boosted this book for me. I liked the book, it was interesting but it really left me wanting much more. I didn't really feel satisfied by this book. Recommendation: This is a good bathroom book, it's interesting but not long. Very reader's digest feel.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rex Hurst

    The copy I have of this book is an advanced reading copy, a softcover one, so the material I read might be slightly different from the final version. I was given it as a Christmas present from an old friend of mine. She isn’t connected to the literary world, so I have no idea how she got her hands on it. She claims it was bought at a gift store (a cheap one), but I have my doubts. Wherever the copy I have in my hands came from, this is a fun and expertly researched volume. It’s amazing how the The copy I have of this book is an advanced reading copy, a softcover one, so the material I read might be slightly different from the final version. I was given it as a Christmas present from an old friend of mine. She isn’t connected to the literary world, so I have no idea how she got her hands on it. She claims it was bought at a gift store (a cheap one), but I have my doubts. Wherever the copy I have in my hands came from, this is a fun and expertly researched volume. It’s amazing how the sexual lives of various artists (of all stripes) collide together to create this web of debauchery. From the secret homosexual love of James Baldwin, to the constant adulteries of Ernest Hemingway, to the tempestuous drug fueled love life of Billy Holiday, to the long lasting (but forbidden love) between Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. The six degrees of separation law never seemed to small after reading this book. A fun easy read. It also gave me several suggestions for further readings in the autobiographies of the various artists mentioned.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hal

    A unique book that allows us to voyeur into the past of the interconnected and sometimes tangled love lives of various artists. Some of these folks are pretty familiar others not so, well to me anyway. The author looks at individuals from various creative fields, music, art, literature. The layout is stylish and flows in an interesting way that skips the typical book format and becomes and art form in its own. The illustrator is quite talented and draws fairly striking likenesses to the many char A unique book that allows us to voyeur into the past of the interconnected and sometimes tangled love lives of various artists. Some of these folks are pretty familiar others not so, well to me anyway. The author looks at individuals from various creative fields, music, art, literature. The layout is stylish and flows in an interesting way that skips the typical book format and becomes and art form in its own. The illustrator is quite talented and draws fairly striking likenesses to the many characters we see here. Altogether well done and entertaining.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mary Denise

    No it's not what you think. This book draws (literally) connections among the various artists, poets, songsters, assorted designers and journalists from the 1800s through the late 1900s. Do not read this if you do not have some way to look up all the connections, backstories, albums and books mentioned. I found it fascinating. For a little book, it took up a lot of my time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    An enjoyable read that plants the seeds for those perhaps not familiar with the subjects to delve further into their works and lives; for those familiar with them it provides multiple jumping off points that inspire you to go back and reread, listen, or see again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    A summary from the back cover: “THE ART OF THE AFFAIR is... the perfect read for any good-natured gossipmonger.” So it is.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    Very brief, yet interesting. Just don't pay too much for the book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Faisal

    A delightful, gossamer, surreal at times look into the private lives of artists and literary figures. Highly recommended as a quick fun read. Most suitable as a coffee table book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jade

    A brilliant and fascinating look at the connections between people and the way those are the things that shape their lives and art.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michael King

    Interesting concept offering bizarre and sometimes poignant glimpses into the lives of the numerous figures referenced. Being without a deep knowledge of art and literary history I wasn't able to enjoy it as much as others might.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Melodiacat

    From the publisher: Poet Robert Lowell died of a heart attack, clutching a portrait of his lover, Caroline Blackwood, painted by her ex-husband, Lucian Freud. Lowell was on his way to see his own ex-wife, Elizabeth Hardwick, who was a longtime friend of Mary McCarthy. McCarthy left the father of her child to marry Edmund Wilson, who had encouraged her writing, and had also brought critical attention to the fiction of Anaïs Nin . . . whom he later bedded. And so it goes, the long chain of love, a From the publisher: Poet Robert Lowell died of a heart attack, clutching a portrait of his lover, Caroline Blackwood, painted by her ex-husband, Lucian Freud. Lowell was on his way to see his own ex-wife, Elizabeth Hardwick, who was a longtime friend of Mary McCarthy. McCarthy left the father of her child to marry Edmund Wilson, who had encouraged her writing, and had also brought critical attention to the fiction of Anaïs Nin . . . whom he later bedded. And so it goes, the long chain of love, affections, and artistic influences among writers, musicians, and artists that weaves its way through the The Art of the Affair--from Frida Kahlo to Colette to Hemingway to Dali; from Coco Chanel to Stravinsky to Miles Davis to Orson Welles. Scrupulously researched but playfully prurient, cleverly designed and colorfully illustrated, it's the perfect gift for your literary lover--and the perfect read for any good-natured gossip-monger. My review: This year, with this presidency, it has become an imperative to allow myself to escape...to learn...to just enjoy books. And this was my first book of 2017. I saw the picture of the book on Instagram and for some reason this book caught my eye. It makes sense, I love anything historical...so I decided why not give this little tome about the romantic entanglements of the surprisingly small world of the arts and literature a go. And it was great. You can read this book in two ways. 1. Page by page 2. Follow the lines that connect people. I did it both ways. And you know what it reminded me of? You know those days where you meet up with your best friend and have a meal and have a good session of bochinche? Something like… Pero tu sabe que este hombre Oscar Wilde tenia ojos para Walt Whitman. Que?!?!?! Like that. The jaw dropping moment was Anais Nin. Fold out pages of all the men and husbands she had. She kind of topped Elizabeth Taylor in the scandalous department. I have to admit, that what I loved most was how the majority of the women that were highlighted in this little coffee table book did not allow their sexuality define them. Like the men in this book, they loved who they loved for whatever reason and for amount of time they gave them and just moved on to the next person. And these relationships that intermingled did not really break anyone, it fed creativity. It is a quick read, but it is a fascinating read. If you do not want to buy it, see if a library or a friend has it and give it a go.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dearwassily

    A quick, fluffy read, gossipy, yet inspiring somehow.

  15. 5 out of 5

    KtotheC

    I enjoyed this look at the tangled webs artists weave... it's all so melodramatic in their lives. Although I don't know if i need my partner to eat a handful of my ashes after i die...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lorri Steinbacher

    Fun book that will inevitably lead you to other books, which is my favorite kind of book. Will hold a permanent place on my coffee table.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jane99 Guzman

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elaine Harris

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paula

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angelina

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leanne Staples

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maria

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susalu

  25. 5 out of 5

    Scy Krogh

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alisa

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marjorie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alice

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jade V

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