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Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) Paperback – August 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Series: Lives Of . . .
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547519915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547519913
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #908,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-Judging from the popularity of television talk shows and supermarket tabloids, Americans love gossip. As the title suggests, this collection of anecdotes about 15 famous artists of European heritage (and Hokusai) is gossipy. Tidbits flood the brief biographies: Leonardo's and Michelangelo's homosexuality, Van Gogh's "ear episode," Bruegel's fondness for practical jokes, Cassatt's support of women's suffrage, etc. These morsels are integrated into chapters with an easy-flowing sequence of short paragraphs, and supplemented with an "Artworks" section that adds a few pithy comments about several specific pieces, such as O'Keeffe's bone paintings or Kollowitz's large granite memorial for her son Peter. Hewitt supplies a full-page watercolor and colored-pencil portrait and vignette for each artist. These are friendly representations that also include personal objects like Matisse's fiddle, Chagall's village, Duchamp's snow shovel, etc. They add pleasant visual attractions to the lighthearted approach in this inviting introduction to a few of the Big Names in our artworld. A page of artistic terms is also included.
Kenneth Marantz, Art Education Department, Ohio State University, Columbus
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 4^-6. From the eclectic series that began with Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (and What the Neighbors Thought) (1993) comes a volume devoted to visual artists. The subject seems well suited to Krull's format: informative short biographies that focus on the subjects' personal lives and eccentricities rather than chronologies of their masterpieces. A few notes on major artworks follow each biography. Among the 19 artists discussed are Leonardo, Bruegel, Cassatt, Van Gogh, Picasso, O'Keefe, Dali, Noguchi, Rivera, Kahlo, and Warhol. Each chapter begins with one of Hewitt's distinctive portrait paintings, handsome caricatures of the artists and a few significant or distinctive objects indicating their interests and individual traits. A lively, entertaining presentation. Carolyn Phelan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

KATHLEEN KRULL is well known for her innovative, award-winning nonfiction for young readers, which includes the successful Lives of... series. Kathleen Krull lives in San Diego, CA. Visit her at www.kathleenkrull.com AND http://facebook.com/kathleen.krull

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Very interesting book with lots of tongue and cheek humor.
dianne oneill
Most importantly it allows readers to recognize each individual artist through an attractive mix of their achievements, lives, and unique personalities.
A young scholar
There is one prerequisite to enjoying this book, though: the reader should already know the artists fairly well in order to enjoy these snippets.
Sandra Brazier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn R. Ziemnik on May 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"It's not what an artist does that counts, but what he is" - Picasso, p. 56
The book contains 16 Chapters on the following 17 artists in birth year order: Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), Peter Bruegel (1525?-1569), Sofonisba Anguissola (1532-1625), Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Mary Cassatt (1845-1926), Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Kathe Kollwitz (1867-1945), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986), William H. Johnson (1901-1970), Salvador Dali (1904-1989), Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988), Diego Rivera (1886-1957) & Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), Andy Warhol (1928-1987).
It contains a variety of gossipy tidbits about the artists' lives. The cross selection of artists is an interesting combination. Krull introduced me to three artists of which I was not familiar (Anguissola, Kollwitz and Johnson). As a result Krull has whet my appetite and I will now seek out further information. Hewett"s illustrations are entertainly and cleverly done. I am especially particular to her rendition of Hokusai (he is wearing a kimino with both "The Wave" and "Mt. Fuji" on it).
I'm not convinced that the book is intended for young readers (ages 9-12). The gossip is on occasion adult in content. No actual prints of any of the artist's paintings are included, which was a surprise given the high cost of the book. This proves cruelly aggravating given that Krull references select paintings with accompanying notes.
Additional tidbits missing from the book: Dali did the dream sequence in Alfred Hitchcock's "Spellbound" starring Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 1998
Format: Hardcover
What a sin that this marvelous series is positioned as "children's literature." As a 40-year-old lifetime student of art, I stumbled across this title in a gift shop. It brings life and personality to artists that surpasses any biography I've read. *Anyone* who is interested in art would love this charming, insightful, and delightfully anecodotal work. I immediately went to Amazon.com and bought the other two in the series. I told myself that I would give them as gifts, but I can't part with them. Enjoy!
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Atheen M. Wilson on January 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed it because it puts some of the humanity back into a subject many of whose personalities have been so lionized that they have become icons, non-people. However, I'm not certain to whom I might recommend it.

To begin with, the book has the direct, simple style of books written for children, grades 4-8. The language is a little too complex for those under age 8, the style a little too simple for those over age 13. Since I occasionally read children's books anyway, this did not stop me as an adult from reading the book and taking satisfaction from doing so. Nor would I have had any problem with recommending the volume for a school or public library, except....

I enjoyed the book primarily because I had already had a rather extensive exposure to art of all types through my mother, who was a working artist herself. Our house was littered with books about artists and their art works, and I started visiting museums in her company from the age of six. When Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) discussed Rembrandt, I already possessed a pretty clear impression of his style and of some of his more famous works. The possibility that the he did not paint Man with a Golden Helmet surprised me, because I have a very clear picture of the work-one of my favorite Rembrandts-in my head. Someone who didn't would find it difficult to care; it would be just another bit of free-floating information.

In short, the book fails to fulfill a goal as a vehicle of teaching young people-or any people-about art because there are no illustrations of it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A young scholar on March 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Most people can name at least a couple famous artists and cite some examples of their best-known works. But have you ever wondered what's really behind all that painting, sculpting, and drawing? Kathleen Krull's book Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) gives an in-depth view into the humor, tragedy, and mystery in twenty artists' lives, as well as the gossip inspired by their peculiar lifestyles. Carefully researched, this humorous biography travels throughout the centuries, offering basic facts along with interesting tidbits and anecdotes about artists from Leonardo Da Vinci to Georgia O'Keeffe and beyond. It also includes interesting backround information behind each one's artistic works as well as creative and eye-catching illustrations by Kathryn Hewitt. This entertaining book allows readers to get to know the world's greatest artists and their artworks through each one's unique and engaging story.
The book is well organized into chapters each focusing on the life of one individual artist. The author skillfully and humorously connects information about artists' personalities, preferences, and lifestyles with how they affected their most well known artworks. It recreates each one's position in history, telling how the artists were seen by the general population in their day, or even their reputation among curious or superstitious neighbors. Readers will be able to see for themselves that famous artists were real people who did mess up once in a while. The author explains a time when Leonardo Da Vinci decided to try out a new painting method, saying, "The technique resulted in disaster...(he hadn't read all the way through to the part that said "don't try this on walls").
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