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Henry Ossawa Tanner: A Spiritual Biography (Lives & Legacies) Hardcover – February 25, 2002
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"This book is illuminating and extraordinarily perceptive; the writing is brilliant and lively. Marcus Bruce, using the abundant but often ignored material available on Tanner's life and work, accurately and thoroughly reconstructs his life project in its social, historical, and geographical contexts. A truly remarkable and inspired assessment of a major African-American figure." -Michel Fabre, Universite de la Sorbonne Nouvelle
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Marcus Bruce has written a brief book that lays out Tanner's lifecourse, centering on the religious and spiritual side, which was, in fact, Tanner's true focus. (Tanner, a minister's son, remained deeply religious all his life.) This book is not only clear and authoritative; it has some of the most insightful art criticism that I have seen. Bruce is far from the "in the right corner we see a dog" school of art writing. He describes the paintings in relation to Tanner's spiritual quest, and Tanner's vision of the world and humanity. His account of my beloved "Annunciation" is a real masterpiece.
My only complaint with this book (besides sloppy editing--there are too many typos) is that it is too short and does not have color pictures! I hope, even pray, that Dr. Bruce will go on to do a full-scale, large-format art book about Henry Tanner, with the major works in full color. Tanner certainly deserves it--he still has not received the recognition he deserves--and Bruce is the man to do it.