Sunday, May 26, 2013

Five top books by and about obsessed artists

Patricia Volk is the author of the memoir Stuffed; the novels To My Dearest Friends and White Light; and two collections of short stories, All it Takes and The Yellow Banana.

Her new book is the memoir, Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli, and Me.

One of Volk's five favorite books by and about obsessed artists, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Diary of a Genius
by Salvador Dalí (1965)

My grandmother would have thought he was out of his mind, but she would have loved Dalí's enthusiastic descriptions of his excreta. Dalí obsesses over his beloved rhinoceros horn, too, and his flatulence, flies (he is partial to the local gray-bellied variety) and Gala, whom he loves so much he marries three times. One year he makes over a hundred things. Paintings, of course. But there were movies, plays, books, scripts, sculptures and performance art before it had a name. In "Diary of a Genius" we observe the man at work in his beloved Port Lligat on the westernmost tip of Spain. There he is, painting naked, unaware of time, making you see what he sees. He makes you feel his paint creaming on. Here is Dalí at his serious-cum-antic best. Discovering the "Diary" when I was in college studying to be a painter hooked my dream life to my waking life. For full-bore pleasure, find copies of "The Assumption" (1952) and "Corpus Hypercubicus" (1954) to glance at while he describes painting them.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue