Before I ever wrote my first book review, I was an art student and I had been writing reviews of art shows in my community. It never occurred to me that anyone could make a living as an art historian/reviewer … I did it as a way to make sure I got to different art shows. When I saw this book available for review I was so delighted to have my request approved. Mentors, and art, and art history are certainly subjects dear to me.
What’s really intriguing about this book is that it is an autobiography and a series of mini-biographies all rolled into one book. Francis M. Naumann is telling his story, but how can any of us tell our own story without bringing into light the people we connected with and who helped shape us?
As we get to know more about Naumann – an art scholar and expert on Dada and Surrealism – we also get to know Leo Steinberg, John Rewald, and Beatrice Wood (and to a lesser degree [through the course of the book], Robert Rosenblum, Robert Pincus-Witten, and William Rubin) – each an important figure in the world of art and art history.
One portion of the book is distinctly not art related. Naumann tells of his being adopted, tremendously happy with his adopted family, but like many who are adopted, curious about the genetics that formed him (since the book is about his ‘learned environment’ in becoming the man he is, this becomes the section related to his biological environment). His search for his biological parents does lead to a meeting with a frail, ailing parent that does not have the result he was hoping for … which is why this is little more than a footnote of a chapter.
I was impressed with this book and Naumann’s writing. I’m quite curious about his other works and now have a new list of books that I hope to read.
Looking for a good book? Mentors: The Making of an Art Historian by Francis M. Naumann is a truly delightful autobiography and collection of mini-biographies rolled into one well-written book.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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Mentors: The Making of an Art Historian
author: Francis M. Naumann
publisher: Doppelhouse Press
paperback, 204 pages