The Animal Gazer
Limpid, laser-sharp prose ... It's difficult not to love the eccentric, fragile Rembrandt Bugatti and suffer alongside him.--The New York Times Book Review
A hypnotic novel inspired by the strange and fascinating life of sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti, brother of the fabled automaker. With World War I closing in and the Belle Époque teetering to a close, Bugatti leaves his native Milan for Paris, where he encounters Rodin and casts his bronzes at the same foundry used by the French master. In Paris and then Antwerp, he obsessively observes and sculpts the baboons, giraffes, and panthers in the municipal zoos, finding empathy with their plight and identifying with their life in captivity. As the Germans drop bombs over the Belgian city, the zoo authorities are forced to make a heart-wrenching decision about the fate of the caged animals, and Bugatti is stricken with grief from which he'll never recover. Rembrandt Bugatti's work, now being rediscovered, is displayed in major art museums around the world and routinely fetches large sums at auction. Edgardo Franzosini recreates the young artist's life with intense lyricism, passion, and sensitivity.
Edgardo Franzosini, born in 1952, is the author of five novels. The Animal Gazer won two distinguished Italian literary awards in 2016, the Premio Comisso and the Premio Dessi.
Reading group guide to The Animal Gazer is available free of charge at newvesselpress.com.
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About the Author
--Library Journal In this elegant and disquieting novel, Edgardo Franzosini gives us a memorable portrait not only of a famed yet ill-fated artist most at home in the zoo, but also of a Europe whose cruelties are infinitely more extreme than any form of animal behavior.
--Michael Brenson, former New York Times art critic and author of a forthcoming biography of sculptor David Smith A captivating character study of a mysterious artist whose attention to the nuances of animal life brought him lasting fame ... The result is a story that is both polished and affecting, with photographs of the artist's work punctuating its movements.
--Foreword Reviews "Rembrandt Bugatti was an extraordinary artist and a breed apart; this moody and atmospheric book captures the obsessive nature of one of the best of a fascinating group of 19th and early 20th century animal sculptors."
--Ian Wardropper, director, The Frick Collection This poignant and emotional story ... is told with expressive and elegant prose, and it will appeal to readers of historical and literary fiction, as well as those interested in early twentieth century artists.
--IndiePicks Magazine A moody, impressionistic, and strangely engaging work.
--Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) The Animal Gazer takes you on a glorious journey into the heart of cosmopolitan Paris as you have never known it before. Through the life of Rembrandt Bugatti, a sculptor with the panache of his name, this lively, fast-paced narrative evokes an exceptional epoch in all its color and eccentric charm."
--Nicholas Fox Weber, author of Balthus: A Biography; Le Corbusier: A Life and Patron Saints: Five Rebels Who Opened America to a New Art An unusual story about a gifted but doomed young artist that grows in poignancy as it accelerates towards its tragic end.
--Michael Peppiatt, author of Francis Bacon in Your Blood and In Giacometti's Studio An appealing little novel about a fascinating man and life.
--The Complete Review Will appeal to any reader interested in the life and troubled times of a masterful, not widely-known, artist.
--Historical Novels Review "This wonderful book not only tells the life of a great sculptor, it is also a testimony to the devastation that every war brings to the life of men and artists."
--Il Fatto quotidiano Edgardo Franzosini is among the finest contemporary Italian writers ... Franzosini illuminates the life of this singular artist ... an artist capable of sculpting in bronze the movements of animals and grasping their vitality in such a way that critics, after years of neglect, are discovering its unique power.
--Il Giornale "So well documented and psychologically penetrating that the entire book gives the reader the feeling of an autobiographical testimony."
-- Libero "A book that hurts but with a beauty and humane poetry that allows for nostalgia and sweetness."
-- La Voce di Pistoia