10 Artist Biographies to Read This Year

Basquiat by Julien Voloj and Søren Mosdal

If you’re tired of reading summer’s bestsellers, why not try another genre: artist biographies? Since many artists have lived exciting lives, we offer these biographies of artists whose lives have been turned into an exciting novel.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude by Jacob Baal-Teshuva

This is a duet that cannot be ignored in contemporary art. One of the most famous couples in the arts overcame their obstacles by working in tandem, flourishing both personally and artistically. Christo (1935–2020) and Jeanne-Claude (1935–2009) have always worked together. The notable artists found a source of inspiration in each other.

The artists are famous for their monumental and ephemeral pieces, especially their “wrappings”. The wrapping of the Arc de Triomphe in September 2021 was their final salute. Jacob Baal-Teshuva’s book is definitely among recommended readings as it shows their entire work: the passionate adventure of two lives.

Camille Claudel: Une femme by Anne Delbée

Camille Claudel (1864-1943) is one of the most famous French artists and sculptors in the world. Claudel was a student of Rodin in the 1880s before having an affair with him. She barely managed to get out of the shadow of her mentor, despite her undoubted talent.

They broke up after ten years of a passionate and destructive relationship. Camille Claudel was convinced that her non-recognition was due to Rodin. Her paranoia led to her being admitted to a psychiatric hospital in 1913.

This novel about the artist biography was written by Ann Delbe, who in 1983 won the Readers’ Choice Revue El for her book.

Tina Modotti: Moi, Tina Modotti, heureuse parce que libre by Gérard de Cortanze

Tina Modotti (1896-1942) was known as a great photographer during her lifetime but long forgotten by art history after her death.

This young girl was forced to work in a factory at the age of 12. After immigrating to the United States, she met a photographer Edward Weston, who made her his muse and taught her the technique of photography. Later, Tina Modotti became a photojournalist for the Mexican communist newspaper, El Machete. After a while, she fully devoted herself to the fight against fascism.

The romantic and exciting artist biography is the last novel by Gérard de Cortanze who had made a series of biographies about women within the 20th century artistic world, including Frida Kahlo and Violette Morris.

Frida Kahlo by Rauda Jamis

One of the greatest artists who left their artistic contributions on 20th century art is undoubtedly Frida Kahlo (1907-1954).

Frida drew artistic inspiration from folklore among other. Her life was full of tragic events, which nevertheless destroyed her unfailing joy of life. Her worldwide recognition has become a model for many women due to her independence and strength of character.

Her rich and dramatic life story is told to us in a delicate, touching way by Rauda Jamis.

Niki de Saint Phalle: Le Jardin des Secrets by Dominique Osuch and Sandrine Martin

Abused as a child, Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002) chose art as her outlet. But her decisive meeting with the Swiss artist Jean Tinguely allowed her to join the New Realists group in the early 1960s.

She started her series “Shooting”, which not only outraged the public, but also brought international recognition to the artist. Her performance paintings are created by firing a rifle with filled paint. Behind the appearance of joyful and naive creations, Niki has never ceased to be committed to protecting women from domestic violence.

This world of fantasy and color is captured in the first graphic biography dedicated to Niki de Saint Phalle. Immersing us in her artistic universe, the book traces her path with great sensitivity.

Artemisia Gentileschi: Artemisia by Alexandra Lapierre

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1653) belonged to the Caravaggio school. But despite this, she clearly differed from other students of the Italian master both in her talent and success.

The violence of her scenes, depicting bold, active women taking their fate into their own hands, often earned her the label of a feminist artist ahead of time! Raped at the age of 19 by an art teacher and humiliated by the ensuing trial, many art historians justify her choice to paint women in the midst of revenge on her trauma.

The exciting life of one of notable artists is to be discovered in Alexandra Lapierre’s book which got the Prize for Best Historical Novel when it was published in 2012.

Caravaggio: La solitude Caravage by Yannick Haenel

What could be more exciting than the artist biography of Caravaggio (1571-1610)? Caravaggio depicted uncompromising realism of sacred Bible characters, transcended by powerful contrasts of light. The artist was aggressive not only in his paintings, but also in life. He was forced to leave Rome after killing a man in a duel.

Yannick Haenel tells us the story of the turbulent life of this “bad boy” artist. Analyzing his works, the writer tries to uncover the secrets of this famous killer artist.

Raphaël: Raphaël par le détail by Stefano Zuffi

Raphael (1483-1520) is regarded as a precocious artist prodigy, whose early death only helped to create a myth.

At a young age, one of the most notable artists of the world, Raphaël gained great fame in northern Italy for his realistic style, characterized by great softness and harmony of shapes and colors. His accomplishment was completed in 1508 when Pope Julius II asked him to create monumental frescoes to decorate his apartments in the Vatican.

Art historian Stefano Zuffi has published the artist biography that allows readers to discover the life of the great artist.

Andy Warhol: Warhol La Biographie by Victor Bockris

Andy Warhol is unquestionably the emblem of Pop Art. Warhol began his career in advertising. He became world famous in the 1960s thanks to his screen prints of mass products. Then eventually became one of the most notable artists of all time.

The artist biography was written by Victor Bockris, who was close to the artist. It explores the career of this pop culture leader, from his precarious childhood in a Slovak immigrant family to his breakthrough into the world of show business.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: Basquiat by Julien Voloj and Søren Mosdal

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) was undoubtedly one of the artists who made the biggest impressions on the New York underground art scene in the 1980s.

This African-American boy left school when he was a teenager in order to devote himself to art. Basquiat had his first exhibition at the age of 21. And that brought him to the forefront of the art scene. The short but prolific career of the urban art prodigy was chronicled in a graphic novel written by Julien Voloy and illustrated by Søren Mosdal.


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