With this book, Jackie Wullschlager links hands with John Richardson, Hilary Spurling and Alex Danchev, all of whom, in their respective biographies of Picasso, Matisse and Braque, have made the early modernist period fresh and exhilarating. Often, discussion of this convulsive and experimental art has been overtheorised or dulled by heavy-handed analysis. Even revisionists, trying to burnish the subject with new life, have somehow failed to remove a greying familiarity. It is surprising, therefore, at this late stage in the appreciation of modernism, to learn suddenly much that is new about the great giants of this period. For these four authors not only uncover important information, they also promote a more nuanced understanding of the personal dynamics in each artist's career. None more so than Jackie Wullschlager. Following the success of her life of Hans Christian Andersen, this new book affirms her position as a wonderfully persuasive biographer.
Marc Chagall has supplied her with an epic tale. He was born in 1887 and died a few months short of his ninety-eighth birthday. Such a life span is challenging enough. But in the case of this Russian artist, who also spent crucial periods in Berlin