Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Nat Tate

I want this book!

It is about Nat Tate's rise as a second-generation abstract expressionist, supported by critics and dealers and sought after by collectors in the New York art world.

Nat Tate was an orphan who, according to his biographer, was 'notionally of the New York School'; a friend of Picasso's and Braque's and a lover, although somewhat short-lived, of Peggy Guggenheim. The story ends with Tate's suicide, after a visit to Georges Braque, in whose studio he sees what true artistic mastery is. Understanding his own mediocrity, Tate grasps the meaning of his success and, "the presaging of a future he did not welcome ... Tate was one of those rare artists who did not need, and did not seek, the transformation of his painting into a valuable commodity to be bought and sold on the whim of a market and its marketeers."
At 31, having first destroyed all of his artwork, Tate committed suicide. He bought a ticket for the Staten Island Ferry, walked to the stern, climbed onto the railing, and threw himself overboard; his body was never found.

The book, written in the form of a monographic essay, includes photographs, documents, notes and guest appearances by real art-world figures (as well as a character from Boyd's other fiction.) Gore Vidal, for example, is also quoted in the book as remembering Tate as "essentially dignified, drunk with nothing to say". Boyd also has Hans Hofmann, as Nat Tate's teacher, espousing views he didn't hold and a supposed poem by Frank O'Hara (mostly written by Boyd himself).
The book was released during a launch party on April 1st, 1998. David Bowie, a board member of Modern Painters magazine and director of 21 Publishing, publishers of the book, read extracts from the book, while Richardson talked about how Tate was friends with both Picasso and Braque.

Nat Tate - An American Artist (1928- 1960)

1 comment:

The Wades said...

Oh wow! You always have the most unusual and fascinating things to say. I love that about you.

Is it sad that I can relate to Nat? I get like that when I see other's photography--just when I think I'm starting to get something, I see a truly beautiful photograph. No, I don't feel suicidal--just sad that I'm so far off greatness. I can see how those feelings would push someone already experiencing depression over the edge. Sad story.