“Lives of the Artists”

Lives of the Artists, by Calvin Tomkins, is a fun easy read that offers significant insight.  Tomkins writes about meetings and interviews with several well known contemporary artists.  These are not the stuffy pretentious interviews that we often find in magazines.  The artists often let Tomkins into their home, into their studio, and into their life.  Thus, the interviews are more casual, real, and personal.  Tomkins also provides us with biographical information about each artist, so we read about them with a sense of understanding about who they are, what they do, and how they do it.  We learn about figures such as Jeff Koons, Matthew Barney, Julian Schnabel, and Damien Hirst.  The artists we meet in these chapters are not sensationalized art super stars but simple, thoughtful real people.  More importantly, I think anyone with any interest in contemporary art would find these stories compelling.