Karen Wilkin, who lives in Manhattan, is an independent curator and art critic.
The Secret Life of Painting
Thoughtful texts, juxtaposed with Fonseca's striking images, offer welcome glimpses into the mysteries of how and why an artist creates.
A celebration of a brilliant young artist's tragically short career, this revealing look at Bruno Fonseca's life, unorthodox training, and startlingly diverse paintings, drawings, and sculpture not only casts light on his own impressive work but also offers unusually acute insight into the creative process. The son of a sculptor and a painter mother, Bruno Fonseca grew up in an art-filled Manhattan household and started creating his own art early on. By the age of 18, he had started a rigorous course of study with Augusto Torres in Manhattan, where he maintained a studio until his death at age 36 in 1994.
Alan Jenkins's perceptive musings about the young artist's accomplishments capture Bruno's quirky charm and summon up the complexity of his relationships with family, friends, and the history of art. Karen Wilkin investigates Fonseca's unusually traditional approach to the study of art, based on painstakingly learned ways of seeing and creating that relate more to the 19th-century Academy than to today's conceptualizing, career-chasing art schools. Isabel Fonseca's deeply touching memoir of her brother's childhood and last days brings to life his irresistible spirit and quicksilver intelligence.
By Karen Wilkin
Though David Smith died nearly twenty years ago, his art looms larger every year. His inexhaustible creativity, forthright ambition, and fearless exploration of new styles and media all contribute to the image of Smith as a larger-than-life American artist-hero. In this insightful new study, Karen Wilkin strips away the myths that have obscured an accurate view of Smith's life and art. Clearly, perceptively, she recounts the history of Smith's creative evolution, from his earliest paintings to the great monumental sculptures of his final years.
Having realized quite early that he had to be an artist, Smith made his way to New York and the Art Students League. There he experimented with variations on the revealing styles of Cubism and Surrealism, and slowly discovered his own technique, particularly the use of industrial methods such as welding to construct his sculptures. The results — though responsive to such varied influences as Picasso and pin-up girls — were imaginative, and often strikingly beautiful. Smith's art has inspired generations of followers, but his position as one of the masters of 20th-century sculpture remains unchallenged.
About the Modern Masters series
With informative, enjoyable texts and over 100 illustrations — approximately 48 in full color — this innovative series offers a fresh look at the most creative and influential artists of the postwar era. The authors are highly respected art historians and critics chosen for their ability to think clearly and write well.
Each handsomely designed volume presents a thorough survey of the artist's life and work, as well as statements by the artist, an illustrated chapter on technique, a chronology, lists of exhibitions and public collections, an annotated bibliography, and an index. Every art lover, from the casual museumgoer to the serious student, teacher, critic, or curator, will be eager to collect these Modern Masters. And with such a low price, they can afford to collect them all.