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Laura Cumming has been chief art critic of the Observer since 1999. Her book, The Vanishing Man: In Pursuit of Velazquez, was Book of the Week on Radio 4, Wall Street Journal Book of the Year and a New York Times bestseller. It won the 2017 James Tait Black Biography Prize and was published to critical acclaim ('A riveting detective story: readers will be spellbound' Colm Toibin). Her first book, A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits, was described by Nick Hornby as 'Brilliant, fizzing with ideas not just about art but human nature' and by Julian Barnes as 'that rare item: an art book where the text is so enthralling that the pictures almost seem like an interruption'.
Uncovering the mystery of her mother's disappearance as a child: Laura Cumming, prize-winning author and art critic, takes a closer look at her family story. In the autumn of 1929, a small child was kidnapped from a Lincolnshire beach. Five agonising days went by before she was found in a nearby village. The child remembered nothing of these events and nobody ever spoke of them at home. It was another fifty years before she even learned of the kidnap. The girl became an artist and had a daughter, art writer Laura Cumming. Cumming grew up enthralled by her mother's strange tales of life in a seaside hamlet of the 1930s, and of the secrets and lies perpetuated by a whole community. So many puzzles remained to be solved. Cumming began with a few criss-crossing lives in this fraction of English coast - the postman, the grocer, the elusive baker - but soon her search spread right out across the globe as she discovered just how many lives were affected by what happened that day on the beach - including her own. On Chapel Sands is a book of mystery and memoir. Two narratives run through it: the mother's childhood tale; and Cumming's own pursuit of the truth. Humble objects light up the story: a pie dish, a carved box, an old Vick's jar. Letters, tickets, recipe books, even the particular slant of a copperplate hand give vital clues. And pictures of all kinds, from paintings to photographs, open up like doors to the truth. Above all, Cumming discovers how to look more closely at the family album - with its curious gaps and missing persons - finding crucial answers, captured in plain sight at the click of a shutter.
**THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER** **SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD** 'A modern masterpiece' Guardian Uncovering the mystery of her mother's disappearance as a child: Laura Cumming, prize-winning author and art critic, takes a closer look at her family story. Autumn 1929 - a young girl is kidnapped from a beach. Five agonising days go by before she is discovered safe and well in a nearby village. The child remembers nothing of these events and at home, nobody ever speaks of them again. Decades later, Laura Cumming delves into the mystery surrounding her mother's disappearance. Examining everything from old family photos to letters, tickets and recipes, she uncovers a series of secrets and lies perpetuated not just by her family but by the whole community and in doing so unlocks a mystery almost a century old. 'A moving, many-sided human story of great depth and tenderness, and a revelation of how art enriches life' Sunday Times Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize Longlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize
"e;So muss man schreiben uber die Kunst und die Vergangenheit"e;, so Florian Illies uber Laura Cummings meisterhaft geschriebene, literarische Biographie "e;Der verschwundene Velazquez. Ein besessener Sammler, ein verschollenes Gemalde und der grote Maler aller Zeiten"e;. Velazquez gilt als der grote Maler aller Zeiten. Uber sein Leben wissen wir bisher aber kaum etwas. Mittels der eigentumlichen Geschichte seines leidenschaftlichsten Verehrers, des viktorianischen Buchhandlers John Snare, befordert die Kunstkritikerin Laura Cumming in ihrer fesselnden Doppelbiographie Erstaunliches uber den groen Spanischen Meister zutage. Bei einer Auktion kauft John Snare das verstaubte Portrat eines Prinzen und versucht fur den Rest seines Lebens zu beweisen, dass es sich bei dem Gemalde um einen echten Velazquez handelt. Wie besessen spurt er dem Geheimnis um die Herkunft des Kunstwerks hinterher. Cumming verwebt diese Geschichte geschickt und eindrucklich mit Betrachtungen der Gemalde des spanischen Hofmalers und lasst uns sein Werk neu entdecken."e;So muss man schreiben uber die Kunst und die Vergangenheit - denn dann fuhlt sie sich an wie unmittelbare Gegenwart. Man lasst sich von der ersten Seite an von Laura Cumming so mitreien wie ihr Held von der Schonheit seines Velazquez."e; Florian Illies"e;Fesselnder Detektivroman, brillante Darstellung einer Kunstkontroverse und zugleich eine Hommage an die Malerei von Velazquez."e; Colm Toibin"e;Wundervoll ... Eine Seltenheit: ein Kunstbuch, in dem der Text einen so fesselt, dass die Bilder beinahe storen."e; Julian Barnes zu Laura Cummings "e;A Face to the World"e;
WINNER OF THE JAMES TAIT BLACK BIOGRAPHY PRIZE SHORTLISTED FOR THE RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZE LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION Selected as a Book of the Year in the Herald In 1845, a Reading bookseller named John Snare came across the dirt-blackened portrait of a prince at a country house auction. Suspecting that it might be a long-lost Velazquez, he bought the picture and set out to discover its strange history - a quest that led from fame to ruin and exile. Fusing detection and biography, this book shows how and why great works of art can affect us, even to the point of mania. And on the trail of John Snare, Cumming makes a surprising discovery of her own. But most movingly, The Vanishing Man is an eloquent and passionate homage to the Spanish master Velazquez, bringing us closer to the creation and appreciation of his works than ever before.
Focusing on the art of self-portraiture, this effortlessly engaging exploration of the lives of artists sheds fascinating light on some of the most extraordinary portraits in art history. Self-portraits catch your eye. They seem to do it deliberately. Walk into any art gallery and they draw attention to themselves. Come across them in the world's museums and you get a strange shock of recognition, rather like glimpsing your own reflection. For in picturing themselves artists reveal something far deeper than their own physical looks: the truth about how they hope to be viewed by the world, and how they wish to see themselves. In this beautifully written and lavishly illustrated book, Laura Cumming, art critic of the Observer, investigates the drama of the self-portrait, from Durer, Rembrandt and Velazquez to Munch, Picasso, Warhol and the present day. She considers how and why self-portraits look as they do and what they reveal about the artist's innermost sense of self - as well as the curious ways in which they may imitate our behaviour in real life. Drawing on art, literature, history, philosophy and biography to examine the creative process in an entirely fresh way, Cumming offers a riveting insight into the intimate truths and elaborate fictions of self-portraiture and the lives of those who practise it. A work of remarkable depth, scope and power, this is a book for anyone who has ever wondered about the strange dichotomy between the innermost self and the self we choose to present for posterity - our face to the world.