The world’s most famous artists always seem to have fascinating lives, don’t you think? Van Gogh and his ear, Picasso and his family tragedy, Andy Warhol and his hair. You hear snippets of these lives when you visit a gallery, or when the boring guy at uni natters onto you in the pub, or when your secondary school art teacher tries to get you to stop talking and concentrate on drawing a bowl of fruit. But, unless you go on to study the subject, that’s often it. There are biographies available of course, but if your interest is only a passing one then it’s likely that those four hundred and something pages might be a little off-putting. And that’s a shame. Because in the case of many such artists, there are fascinating tales to be told.
Which is why the Art Masters series, published by Self Made Hero, might be considered a godsend. Ditching the endless pages of prose and replacing them with beautiful comic books, they have created a set of enjoyable, educational, and easily digestible biographies that will allow a more varied audience to learn about that person who painted that picture that they like. At least if the Dali edition is anything to go by, anyway.
Telling Dali’s life story using a combination of laid back narration and pictures that loosely mimic his own work, Baudoin invites the reader into the very recesses of Dali’s history. We aren’t spared any of the gruesome details, but neither do we dwell on them. The author chooses, instead, to interpolate ideas about how these details influenced the work and how Dali became the person and artist that so confounded and amazed his audiences. And, unlike some other attempts to tell the story of the greats, it never feels condescending or pretentious. In fact, it is the accessible style that makes this such a triumph.
Any Cop?: This edition will suit newcomers and experts alike, although it’s likely they’ll get something quite different form the experience. For those who have seen a few Dali works, but know little of his life, this is a way to learn that will take up only an hour or so of your life. And for those who have studied the intimate details of the Spanish born artist, well you can just get a kick out of this original and attractive presentation of his story.