Artists’ Letters is a treasure trove of carefully selected letters written by great artists, providing the reader with a unique insight into their characters and a glimpse into their lives. Arranged thematically, it includes writings and musings on love, work, daily life, money, travel and the creative process. On the theme of friendship, for example, letters provide evidence of a creative community between peers, with support and mutual appreciation that helps to dispel the myth of the artist as solitary genius. Letters between Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin show an ongoing conversation and exchange of ideas. We see mutual admiration between Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot, and Picasso’s quick notes to Jean Cocteau illustrate their closeness. Correspondence, some of which includes sketches and drawings, is reproduced with the transcript and some background and contextual information alongside. The book brings together a collection of treasures found in letters, which in our digital age are an increasingly lost art.
Michael Bird is a writer, art historian and radio broadcaster. He has published many books, essays and articles on modern and contemporary art. His books include Sandra Blow (2005), The St Ives Artists: A Biography of Place and Time (2008) and 100 Ideas That Changed Art (2012).