Bright Stars

by Kate Bryan


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Published by Frances Lincoln

Published September 2021

16.99 Owl loyalty points

‘Bright Stars is a compelling reflection on the concept of legacy. Bryan’s wide ranging assessment of artists we lost too soon proves that longevity in art is rewarded to the stars that burn the brightest, however fleeting their lives and careers.’ – MARIA BALSHAW, DIRECTOR OF TATE

Some of the world’s greatest and most-loved artists died under the age of forty.

But how did they turn relatively short careers into such long legacies? What drove them to create, against all the odds? And how can we use these stories to re-evaluate artists lost to the shadows, or whose legacies are not yet secured? In Bright Stars, Kate Bryan examines the lives and legacies of 30 great artists who died too young. Most artists have decades to hone their craft, win over the critics and forge their reputation, but that’s not the case for the artists in this book. Art heavyweights Vincent van Gogh and Jean-Michel Basquiat have been mythologised, with their early deaths playing a key role in their posthumous fame.

Others, such as Aubrey Beardsley and Noah Davis, were driven to create, knowing their time was limited. For some, premature death, compounded by gender and racial injustice, meant being left out of the history books – as was the case with Amrita Sher-Gil, Charlotte Salomon and Pauline Boty, now championed by Kate Bryan in this important re-appraisal. And, as Caravaggio and Vermeer’s stories show us, it can take centuries for forgotten artists to be given the recognition they truly deserve.

With each artist comes a unique and often surprising story about how lives full of talent and tragedy were turned into brilliant legacies that still influence and inspire us today. This is a celebration of talent so great it shines on.

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