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* The true(ish) life story of the most original and angry young(ish) man in British art* A satirical investigation of art since Marcel Duchamp, a masterclass in biography (and how not to do it) and a heart-stopping work of conical genius"A Rabelaisian riot of a book: scatological, scabrous, ironic, iconoclastic, bibulous and fabulous" Scotland on Sunday
Ralph Steadman, artist, writer, sculptor, political cartoonist and designer of labels for vintage wines, is the author of many illustrated books including Sigmund Freud, I Leonardo, The Big I am, The Scar-strangled Banner, Alice and Animal Farm. He is the Gardening Correspondent for Rolling Stone and illustrator of Hunter S. Thompson's infamous Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This is his first (auto)biography.
New Yorker cartoonist and Hunter S. Thompson collaborator Steadman sends up modern art with this energetic but ungainly combination of solemn aesthetics and oddball satire. The book is a fictional "triography" of one Gavin Twinge, leader of the "Doodaaa group," a coterie of avant-garde artists loosely based on the Dada movement. Paragons of bohemian excess, Twinge and company go on epic drinking binges and push the boundaries of art with bizarre experimental pieces in which they paint with gnat blood or heat up beer cans until they explode onto a canvas. Mostly, though, they function as mouthpieces for enthusiastic and rambling disquisitions on, among other things, philistinism, the soul-deadening effects of formal education and the history of flush toilets. Unfortunately, Steadman's fertile comic imagination is somewhat hobbled by sluggish pacing and a fondness for art-school palaver. The narrative lurches from rumination to picaresque and back again; sections on art and philosophy are marked by overwriting ("Gavin had kept alive a memory of art in flux, fractured by two world wars, shot senseless in a post-war miasma of rationed optimism and left for dead on a floor smeared with childish ideals of freedom, self-fulfillment and bright futility") and convoluted thinking ("The human condition actually cannot accept the reality of nature because the human condition has allowed reason to enter, and nature knows nothing of human reason"). Amusing bits pop up here and there, but in the end, it's hard to parody a world that seems to lean into self-parody often enough on its own. Illus. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
"What we have here is not only an amusing tale, but an important document in art history."