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Drawing from the life

Artists In Their World series Franklin Watts pound;12.99 each This new series is a delight. Each title is a cornucopia of information exploring an artist's work in relation to the familial, social and political context of their lives. The tone is very much aimed at the key stage 4 and post-16 art student although the language used would be equally KS3 friendly. The observations are succinct, the potted histories surprisingly thorough for such slim volumes and all are written in easily digestible story-telling style.

All begin with a brief family background and end with a chapter on the legacy of each artist in terms of their influence on subsequent artists and art movements.

Each page is laid out in spidergram fashion with chronological threads exploring, through archive material, quotations and photographs, contemporaneous world events, and parallel movements in other art forms.

Consequently, for example, Edward Hopper's direct style is compared with that of Ernest Hemmingway's prose and his role as a precursor to Pop Art and a stylistic inspiration for director Alfred Hitchcock is considered.

Georgia O'Keefe is contrasted with the photographer Tina Modotti, is credited as the inspiration for the colour-field painters of the next generation and in turn as a role model for feminist artists of the 1960s and 1970s.

Henry Moore's truth to material, born of a mining background, leads to an examination of his influence on contemporary biomorphic design; the book on Marc Chagall ends with this proclamation of his ecumenical hope for mankind: "In the arts as in life, everything is possible provided it is based on love."

Each title contains a time line, a glossary, a list of museums and galleries where work can be seen and an appendix of written accounts and correspondence to give a glimpse of the real people behind the iconic facade. The series also includes titles on Cezanne, Dali, Gauguin, Giacometti, Van Gogh, Kahlo, Klee, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Pollock and Warhol.

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