Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Monumental Matisse

I was impressed to see that Walker had a story about the Whitbread Book of the Year up before the media got it! Bloggers are out at the front of the field ...

The £30,000 prize is awarded to the best book overall, from all the other Whitbread categories. I don't envy the judges, having to make comparisons across genre, and apparently last night the voting was the closest in the prize's two-decade history.

In the end, the winner was not odds on favourite Ali Smith for The Accidental, or Tash (whom previously won the first novel award, if you remember), or Kate Thompson's children's book The New Policeman, or poet Christopher Logue's Iliad epic ... but the second volume of Hilary Spurling's biography of the artist Matisse.

Matisse The Master has been described as monumental and ground-breaking and took the author 15 years to write. (An earlier volume about Matisse's early work, The Unknown Matisse, covered his evolution into a painter.) The work has been widely praised and Michael Morpurgo, who chaired the judges, said of it:
So many people felt it was a massive work, but yet it didn't read like it. It read like a story. ... We were reading about this man and his pictures and the life that he had, his family and his travels. Somehow she managed to paint a picture of a painter that was accessible to people not necessarily familiar with art. It was an extraordinary achievement to write a book that length and you get to the end and you're sorry it's finished.
Check out this review of the book from the Sunday Times.

The painting below comes without the usual (for Malaysia) censor's black pen bikini, lest our eyes fall out of our heads for looking at such forbidden fruit! If you want to know more about Matisse's work and see some of his art, go here.

And if you want to read the book ... it's going on my must-buy list for the British Council Library.


Greenbottle said...

that reminds me...i had a friend who made a copy of mattise painting "oranges" for me...the original was once owned by picasso and now i think hangs in the louvre..of course i could never ever own an original so a copy by an interesting friend is qite fine for me...this guy friend looks like a mad man...and sometimes act like one too.. only went to school up to primary six but the late hossein enas was his friend...and whenever khalil ibrahim comes back to kelantan he goes to this man's hovel...if he is out ..which is most of the time khalil used to sketch anything fanciful that comes to his mind and pinned it on the time i came to his hovel and saw a nice black pen sketch of a naked man jerking off by khalil...i obviously kept it...and by the way he said that khalil has a big folios of erotic drawings..would love to see them...speaking of which..i actually paid my friend just a small sum of money for this big oil copy of 'oranges' ..because i know if i pay more he'll go straight to Sungai Golok and spend it all on beautiful young thai girls ....

bibliobibuli said...

greenbottle - it sounds like you have the starting point for a great short story in that entry - if not an entire novel! if you're not going to use it, i will!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

According to Technorati, somebody beat the announcement by twenty minutes! How do they do that?

(And I wonder why blogger screwed up that link. This sort of thing happens on other blogger blogs too.)

bibliobibuli said...

Yes, that little technical problem seems to hit me with almost every post. Blogger inserts a kind of double address. I've put it right now and hope it stays that way.

Talking about being first with things - I get a kick out of the fact that we are 8 hours ahead here and I can link to Guardian articles hours before London is awake! (Wow - sad life if this is how i get my kicks!)