Nat Tate: An American Artist: 1928-1960

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Overview

When William Boyd published his biography of New York modern artist Nat Tate, a huge reception of critics and artists arrived for the launch party, hosted by David Bowie, to toast the late artist's life. Little did they know that the painter Nat Tate, a depressive genius who burned almost all his output before his suicide, never existed. The book was a hoax, and the art world had fallen for it.

Nat Tate is a work of art unto itself-an investigation of the blurry line between the...

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Nat Tate: An American Artist: 1928-1960

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Overview

When William Boyd published his biography of New York modern artist Nat Tate, a huge reception of critics and artists arrived for the launch party, hosted by David Bowie, to toast the late artist's life. Little did they know that the painter Nat Tate, a depressive genius who burned almost all his output before his suicide, never existed. The book was a hoax, and the art world had fallen for it.

Nat Tate is a work of art unto itself-an investigation of the blurry line between the invented and the authentic, and a thoughtful tour through the spirited and occasionally ludicrous American art scene of the 1950s.

William Boyd is the author of nine novels, including A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award; An Ice-Cream War, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Brazzaville Beach, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; and Restless, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year Award.

Praise for Nat Tate:

"William Boyd's description of Tate's working procedure is so vivid that it convinces me that the small oil I picked up on Prince Street, New York, in the late '60s must indeed be one of the lost Third Panel Triptychs. The great sadness of this quiet and moving monograph is that the artist's most profound dread-that God will make you an artist but only a mediocre artist-did not in retrospect apply to Nat Tate."-David Bowie

"A moving account of an artist too well understood by his time."-Gore Vidal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608195800
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Pages: 72
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

William Boyd is the author of nine novels, including A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award; An Ice-Cream War, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Brazzaville Beach, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; and Restless, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year Award.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 14, 2013

    I must confess I didn't even know this book was a hoax when I pu

    I must confess I didn't even know this book was a hoax when I pulled it down from the shelf at the local library. (I'd just finished two of Boyd's works -- ANY HUMAN HEART and FASCINATION -- and I was looking for something else, short enough to read and digest in an afternoon.)

    NAT TATE is essentially exposition. It's a simple monograph about a relatively simple guy: an American artist who happened to kill himself at the unhurried age of 32. Problem is, he never existed -- no, not even long enough to kill himself. Consequently, we can't feel any pity. Not for Nat Tate; not about his early and abrupt exit.
    We can, however, be amused at the New York art scene in its heyday.

    It's a pleasure to see a Brit explode (and yes, exploit) an American myth -- namely, that money and acclaim somehow determine the true value of art. And the artists of that day? Apparently buying right into the concept with feet, heart and liver.

    But quite apart from the conceit of this monograph, what do I like best about Boyd's prose? He teaches me new -- or rather long-neglected -- words. In this little treatise, for instance: "scumble"; "brimful"; "irruption"; "gnomic"; and "tetchy." In FASCINATION? "rebarbative" -- a word he used twice in that collection and once in this monograph.

    I've always believed that writers are "the guardians of the language." Up until I'd read William Boyd, however, I'd frankly begun to question the sanity of my insistence on this point. When I'd once pointed out to a fellow writer that William Faulkner had used "implied" not once, but twice (when he really meant to write "inferred") in LIGHT IN AUGUST, I thought my fellow writer might just show me down from his Brooklyn rooftop garden lickety-split, yet without benefit of wings or a soft landing spot.

    I like Boyd's style. More to the point, I trust him with the language. We may not agree on many of the tactics of story-telling, but I trust his general strategy. Why? Because his mechanics are sound. And one shouldn't even think about writing a story until one has mastered the basic mechanics.

    And where does one begin? By reading, for starters, the likes of William Boyd. "You are what you eat, and you write what you read," I always say.

    RRB
    5/15/13
    Brooklyn, NY

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    Posted April 4, 2014

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