Lacey, Catherine and Forsyth Harmon. “The Art of the Affair: An Illustrated History of Love, Sex, and Artistic Influence”, Bloomsbury, 2017.
Our society loves gossip about celebrities and in “The Art of the Affair” we read of entanglements (both romantic and otherwise) between some of the most loved writers and artists of the modern age. We have scandal and surprises and it is all a fascinating read. Some of this you may have read or heard of before but here it is presented in a way that makes everything new. Let me site a few examples straight from the text: “Poet Robert Lowell died of a heart attack, clutching a portrait of his lover, Caroline Blackwood, painted by her ex-husband, Lucian Freud. Lowell was on his way to see his own ex-wife, Elizabeth Hardwick, who was a longtime friend of Mary McCarthy. McCarthy left the father of her child to marry Edmund Wilson, who had encouraged her writing, and had also brought critical attention to the fiction of Anaïs Nin . . . whom he later bedded”. I could not help be reminded of a wonderful line in Robert Goldman’s marvelous drama, “The Lion in Winter”. Eleanor of Aquitaine while having a discussion with her three sons, throws off the line, “Such was the role of sex in history”. We become here witness to the love, affections, and artistic influences among writers, musicians, and artists that include Frida Kahlo, Colette, Hemingway, Dali, Coco Chanel, Stravinsky, Miles Davis and Orson Welles.
I must say that I admire the research that Catherine Lacey and Forsyth Harmon did to write this book and I can imagine that they had great fun doing it just as we do reading it.
To say anymore would spoil a delightful read but I can guarantee that this is a book that you will not soon forget. Imagine watching “Entertainment Tonight” but in the worlds of literature and art and not the celebrities we have today. Those in this book contributed to the history of their movements and became known because of talent and not just because they made a film. There are not Kardashians by any means but real people who have influenced minds and thought.