A Generous Vision
The first biography of Elaine de Kooning, A Generous Vision portrays a woman whose intelligence, droll sense of humor, and generosity of spirit endeared her to friends and gave her a starring role in the close-knit world of New York artists. Her zest for adventure and freewheeling spending were as legendary as her ever-present cigarette. Flamboyant and witty in person, she was an incisive art writer who expressed maverick opinions in a deceptively casual style. As a painter, she melded Abstract Expressionism with a lifelong interest in bodily movement to capture subjects as diverse as President John F. Kennedy, basketball players, and bullfights. In her romantic life, she went her own way, always keen for male attention. But she credited her husband, Willem de Kooning, as her greatest influence; rather than being overshadowed by his fame, she worked "in his light." Nearly two decades after their separation, after finally embracing sobriety herself, she returned to his side to rescue him from severe alcoholism. Based on painstaking research and dozens of interviews, A Generous Vision brings to life a leading figure of twentieth-century art who lived a full and fascinating life on her own terms.

A Generous Vision Details

TitleA Generous Vision
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 2nd, 2017
PublisherOxford University Press, USA
ISBN-139780190498474
Rating
GenreBiography, Art

A Generous Vision Review

  • Marc
    January 1, 1970
    As she did in "Restless Ambition," her masterful biography of the painter Grace Hartigan, in "A Generous Vision" Cathy Curtis once again brings alive the life and work of a notable but underappreciated painter of the mid-twentieth century, Elaine de Kooning. And what a life she led. Curtis gives all the wild details, but also soberly and compellingly captures the larger context of Elaine de Kooning's life and work. Plus, she shows without a doubt that her subject should be remembered not as "the As she did in "Restless Ambition," her masterful biography of the painter Grace Hartigan, in "A Generous Vision" Cathy Curtis once again brings alive the life and work of a notable but underappreciated painter of the mid-twentieth century, Elaine de Kooning. And what a life she led. Curtis gives all the wild details, but also soberly and compellingly captures the larger context of Elaine de Kooning's life and work. Plus, she shows without a doubt that her subject should be remembered not as "the wife of," but as an important American Abstract Expressionist. A great read by a great writer.
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  • Regina Stevens
    January 1, 1970
    Although I love the title "a generous vision" I was quite disappointed with the overall level of writing in this disorganized accounting of the life and times of the creative force that was Elaine DeKooning. Cathy Curtis falls short in her strictly fact based approach, with confusing scattered timelines and often inaccurate, careless accounting of dates. I would highly recommend the much more engaging character study by Lee Hall "Elaine and Bill" which Curtis tellingly has chosen to disparage in Although I love the title "a generous vision" I was quite disappointed with the overall level of writing in this disorganized accounting of the life and times of the creative force that was Elaine DeKooning. Cathy Curtis falls short in her strictly fact based approach, with confusing scattered timelines and often inaccurate, careless accounting of dates. I would highly recommend the much more engaging character study by Lee Hall "Elaine and Bill" which Curtis tellingly has chosen to disparage in her notes. I gave this book only 3 stars because although I was disappointed with her dry and at times judgmental writing, there are many interesting details to be gleaned from the text if one hangs in there. On the plus side Curtis offers color plates and photographs as a reference to some of the work and times mentioned in the text. I did find the gathering of facts on the Kennedy portrait somewhat organized and interesting and Curtis does manage to impart accounts of Elaine's unselfish generosity and forward thinking which incidentally deeply affected my own life. It was at Elaine's suggestion in 1985 that my husband and I became Grace Hartigan's live in assistants which we remained until the time of her death. Overall, however sub par Curtis' attempt to captivate this reader, I must recommend this book because it is a reminder of Elaine's remarkable part in the history of Art in America, and that is a story that deserves to be told .
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  • Vanda Krefft
    January 1, 1970
    A compelling, page-turning narrative, "A Generous Vision" presents a fascinating and revealingly detailed portrait of a great artist who deserves to be fully appreciated in her own right, rather than mainly because of her married last name. Cathy Curtis's deep knowledge of art and the art world provides rich context for understanding Elaine's challenges and for appreciating her accomplishments. The author's engagement with her subject is contagious: one feels as if one is following along with El A compelling, page-turning narrative, "A Generous Vision" presents a fascinating and revealingly detailed portrait of a great artist who deserves to be fully appreciated in her own right, rather than mainly because of her married last name. Cathy Curtis's deep knowledge of art and the art world provides rich context for understanding Elaine's challenges and for appreciating her accomplishments. The author's engagement with her subject is contagious: one feels as if one is following along with Elaine, seeing the world from her point of view, and sharing her experiences. A truly absorbing biography.
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  • Charles Fried
    January 1, 1970
    I found this to be a balanced and perceptive biography of Elaine. She was a complex character who lived a complicated life. Cathy Curtis does well to present many of those complications in a readable yet detailed text. The organization of the book is thematic rather than chronological but that did not bother me as I feel that it allows a better development of those themes. As her nephew, I knew Elaine for many years and interacted with her on many levels. The book presents Elaine fairly, and in I found this to be a balanced and perceptive biography of Elaine. She was a complex character who lived a complicated life. Cathy Curtis does well to present many of those complications in a readable yet detailed text. The organization of the book is thematic rather than chronological but that did not bother me as I feel that it allows a better development of those themes. As her nephew, I knew Elaine for many years and interacted with her on many levels. The book presents Elaine fairly, and in the context of her time and place, without leaving much out. Excellent.
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  • Zack
    January 1, 1970
    Goodreads Giveaway - very happy I received a copy of this wonderful book. It’s great to see a biography on this amazing artist. Her portraits and themes are greatly under-appreciated. The only problem with this book is: it’s too short. Elaine was a fantastic character who lived an amazing life, and this life is distilled down to only 200 pages. Maybe one day her notebooks will turn up and Cathy Curtis can write an expansion based on them. Highly recommended.
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