Letters to Gwen John
Celia Paul (Author)
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DescriptionWith original artworks throughout, an extraordinary fusion of memoir and artistic biography from the acclaimed artist and author of Self-Portrait. Dearest Gwen, I know this letter to you is an artifice. I know you are dead and that I'm alive and that no usual communication is possible between us but, as my mother used to say, "Time is a strange substance" and who knows really, with our time-bound comprehension of the world, whether there might be some channel by which we can speak to each other, if we only knew how. Celia Paul's Letters to Gwen John centers on a series of letters addressed to the Welsh painter Gwen John (1876-1939), who has long been a tutelary spirit for Paul. John spent much of her life in France, making art on her own terms and, like Paul, painting mostly women. John's reputation was overshadowed during her lifetime by her brother, Augustus John, and her lover Auguste Rodin. Through the epistolary form, Paul draws fruitful comparisons between John's life and her own: their shared resolve to protect the sources of their creativity, their fierce commitment to painting, and the ways in which their associations with older male artists affected the public's reception of their work. Letters to Gwen John is at once an intimate correspondence, an illuminating portrait of two painters (including full-color plates of both artists' work), and a writer/artist's daybook, describing Paul's first exhibitions in America, her search for new forms, her husband's diagnosis of cancer, and the onset of the global pandemic. Paul, who first revealed her talents as a writer with her memoir, Self-Portrait, enters with courage and resolve into new unguarded territory--the artist at present--and the work required to make art out of the turbulence of life.
New York Review of Books
April 26, 2022
5.45 X 8.15 X 1.35 inches | 2.0 pounds
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About the Author
Celia Paul's work has been exhibited internationally and is in the collections of the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her major solo exhibitions include Celia Paul, curated by Hilton Als, at both the Yale Center for British Art and the Huntington Art Gallery. She lives in London.
Painter Paul shares her thoughts on art, relationships, and the creative life through letters to Welsh artist Gwen John in these intimate meditations. . . . Paul's prose is spare and luminous, revealing her painter's eye in attention to color, texture, and depth. . . The included paintings, both John's and Paul's, are breathtaking. Fellow artists will relish this lucid look at what is required to live and paint truthfully.' --Publishers Weekly Beautiful, tender, and riveting. I have taken this book into my heart. --Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Checkout 19 A miraculous, door-opening book. --Julia Blackburn, author of Time Song