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The Lure of the Biographical

On the (Self-)Representation of Modern Artists

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  • What mechanisms and strategies are at play in creating the artist's image?
  • With detailed case studies on the (self)representation of Rodin, O'Keeffe and Bacon, and a theoretical model for future research

Auteur: Sandra Kisters
Ontwerp: Sam de Groot
Serie: vis-à-vis

2017, Valiz | supported by Prince Bernhard Culture Fund, De Gijselaar-Hintzen Fund | paperback | 448 blz. | 23 x 17 cm (h x b) | English | ISBN 978-94-92095-25-1

In 2020 Sandra Kisters received the Karel van Mander Prize for The Lure of the Biographical, and in 2018 the AICA Award for this same publication.

The Lure of the Biographical zooms in on the supposed relationship between the art and the personal image of artists. The book explores how visual artists use their personal history and image to make a name for themselves, and how they try to control how their artistic output is interpreted. At the same time, it investigates how other parties such as art critics, biographers, photographers, filmmakers, art historians and art dealers link artists’ lives to their work. The framework for studying the (self-)representation of artists focuses on the textual and visual means used by artists as well as others. Through three detailed case studies of the image and work of French sculptor Auguste Rodin, American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, and British painter Francis Bacon, the book demonstrates what mechanisms and strategies are at play in creating the artist’s image, from the nineteenth to the late-twentieth century, and, in addition, proposes a model for future research into questions of (self-)representation.

Sandra Kisters is Head of Collections and Research of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam (NL). Previously, she was assistant professor in modern and contemporary art at Utrecht University (NL), Radboud University, Nijmegen (NL) and VU University Amsterdam (NL).