Helene

Julie Kavanagh's Nureyev Biography

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canbelto writes (from the General Reading forum):

I appreciated Kavanagh's obvious devotion in tracking down everyone Nureyev ever knew, but I do agree that the middle chapters especially get very long and sometimes confusing to read, as we go through a long laundry list, it seems, of Nureyev boyfriends/sugar mama's/upstart choreographers/tantrums/new homes/tours. I think the book is the strongest during the Russian years and the final chapters about him at the Paris Opera Ballet and his sad slide into illness, as well as his unbelievable denial about his health/career/life.

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I seem to be one of the few people not delighted with Julie Kavanagh's biography, which appears to my eye to have too many hard facts wrong and too much romantic waffle. I am sorry to say that I got more and more annoyed by it. I have Diane Solways's version already and wasn't sure I would get this too, but took the plunge as it is 9 years on. Well, though I enjoyed the beginning about the childhood and early Russia stories very much (the school photographs are really delightful) I started feeling that I had to check one biography against the other as I noticed more and more mistakes. The first mistake that someone else has already pointed out was turning the famous piano professor Yakov Flier into a violinist who she called the joint winner of the Tchaikovsky competition with Van Cliburn. Apart from her getting the instruments wrong, the cause celebre was that Van Cliburn was NOT a joint winner, but the outright one because he was not Russian. So, Nureyev's inspired reaction to Flier's violin -playing, as told, can't be right. Either the author has got it wrong or the person who told her has. This is a corker of a mistake quite early on.

Another corker is that Nureyev's teacher Pushkin died in 1970, not in 1971 as she says, and in that chapter of 1970 to 71 several other things get very muddled. For example, she said that after having some bad US reviews for his Van Dantzig modern ballet at theRoyal Ballet, Nureyev felt driven back to classical with staging the Australian Ballet ' Don Quixote '; i.e. she is reading his thoughts. Yet, the Australian Ballet website states that the ' Don Quixote ' occured before he danced the Van Dantzig work in America. On 2nd March 1970 he did the premiere of the Danzig in London and 6 more performances (this is in my Royal Ballet book), by 28th March 1970 he had rehearsed, staged and opened DQ in Australia and did some performances in April (this on the AB site), and then he flew to America (incredible man! ) to dance with the Royal Ballet from 21st April to the end of May. Kavanagh said that he got bad reviews on that US trip. Solway said that he got some of the best reviews of his life, but on the other hand she omitted the Australian DQ completely. This incompleteness and muddle is disappointing particularly as Ashton was retiring that year, which must have been a watershed for Nureyev at the Royal Ballet (funny that Kavanagh is Ashton's biographer too, but she only mentions that in passing). It is an example where I feel the facts are shaky inside Kavanagh's somewhat wordy assertions.

I was surprised that the tragic and now wellknown fact that Lynn Seymour had undergone an abortion in order to be able to premiere MacMillan's ' Romeo and Juliet ' at Covent Garden, but then lost the premiere to Margot and Rudy for box-office reasons is not told in Kavanagh's account, considering that Nureyev must have been, one supposes, very distressed. He was by all accounts nearly as close to Seymour as Fonteyn. Sylvie Guillem is another ballerina very close to Nureyev who has a quite remote presence in this biography. Kavanagh says that Nureyev kept her photograph by his bed but she takes just one paragragh to tell of her scandalous departure to the Royal Ballet. If you check with Solway, Twyla Tharp was making her first work in Paris, and intended Sylvie as the central dancer, which was a considerable statement of Nureyev's modernising force in the Paris Opera, yet in Kavanagh Tharp is not mentioned at all. Very strange.

Also which act of ' La Bayadere ' are the Shades ? I have only seen Act 3 for Shades, but she has Act 4 twice and then changes to Act 3. The Kirov's French impresario was Georges Soria, not Sorio. Also where is an update on the Nureyev Foundations in Europe and the USA. Diane Solway's book ended with a highly intriguing epilogue about how they spent more on legal fees than giving money to Nureyev's intended recipients, and quarreled between themselves. By the way, the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation website does not list Nureyev Australian performances ( ! ) and the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation in the US website cites Nureyev's death as 6th January 1992 ! (It should be 1993) Who can you trust ? These people are Julie Kavanagh's sponsors, and she has only listed what they say on their websites about their achievements.

In the end it is down to personal taste, but I was not expecting the two books to be so similar. There is no point in buying the Kavanagh if you have read the Solway one, unless you want to know even more about Nureyev's affairs (Solway usually listed names but was not bothered to interview them, which seems about right when you see what they tell Kavanagh sometimes.) Neither of them, recounting so many details, important and unimportant, is really in tune in style with Nureyev's personality, which was very terse (a couple of my favourites are' Chicken dinner, chicken performance ', ' not entrechat six, entrechat piss'. ) I think that Solway reported the story excellently and straightforwardly (very exciting defection report) and she gave more than Kavanagh has on what other dancers like Baryshnikov, Peter Martins and Irina Kolpakova thought of Nureyev. These opinions interest me more when I am watching Nureyev videos than the extra lovers. Also Cecil Beaton was a great diarist, very funny to read on the New York social scene and Solway has some excellent examples. Kavanagh was fortunate to have Solway's book to go on for research. She even uses Solway's chapter heading ' The beatnik and the prince ' for one of hers. The Solway biog is more ' definitive ', if by that you mean the one you will look up in future when you need to know something. Maybe Kavanagh's is more romantically written, more in tune with celebrity and the mythical Rudy. By the way it appears from Amazon that not one Nureyev biog has failed to have good reviews, even the really dreadful ones.

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Thank you, delibes, for that report and for your clarifications on factual matters. I, like you, thought there was a lot more space devoted to Nureyev's personal relationship (sexual and not) than was merited. I was surprised how unintereseting, and even rather sad, some of these relationships appeared to have been.

I agree with you that the Solway book is well done. It's surprising that it went out of print so quickly and has faded out of sight for many.

On the other hand, Kavanagh has a lot more about what interested me most -- details of plans for performances and ballets, works in progress, and actual performances, as well as working relationships with other dancers and impressarios, etc. There's more about the business of being a ballet dancer, choreographer, and company director, it seems to me. Many of the general points are familiar, but Kavanagh gives them flesh. This can make slow reading, but it makes for a book that many will continue to consult for a long time.

For example, I learned very llittle from Solway about the actual dance aspect of Nureyev's fantasies about Bruhn before the defection and relationship with him for decades. In the treatment of Bruhn, it seems to me that it is Solway who personalizes too much (while being very delicate about the actual facts of their liaison), not Kavanagh. Bruhn is a much more intresting figure in her book than in Solway's. And so is Nureyev's relationship with him.

With the passage of time, more and more material has become available. The endorsement of Kavanagh's project by the two Nureyev Foundations certainly helped her get incredibly wide cooperation from people in Nureyev's life, as did the good reputation of her earlier biography of Ashton.

The completely new interview material with people who worked with Nureyev -- especially the dancers -- was fascinating. I learned about them even more than I learned about Nureyev. And Kavanagh also tells us about life in the Soviet Union for those Nureyev left behind, and how they feel about it today. Her discussion of the Paris Opera Ballet disputes and triumphs works very well.

It's good to have both books on the shelf. On the other hand, I've printed out your post and tucked it into the pages of my Kavanagh -- just to remind me not to take her every world as gospel.

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I agree with you that the Solway book is well done. It's surprising that it went out of print so quickly and has faded out of sight for many.

Still on Amazon, I think ?

Bruhn is a much more intresting figure in her book than in Solway's. And so is Nureyev's relationship with him.

I found this thought-provoking in Solway's book: ' To Nureyev, talent was destiny,[ ... ] to Bruhn talent was a burden.' And Fleming Flindt's remark about Bruhn: ' He once said to me, ' One thing I'm very good at is getting offstage fast '. That was a typical Bruhn remark'.

The completely new interview material with people who worked with Nureyev -- especially the dancers -- was fascinating. I learned about them even more than I learned about Nureyev. And Kavanagh also tells us about life in the Soviet Union for those Nureyev left behind, and how they feel about it today. Her discussion of the Paris Opera Ballet disputes and triumphs works very well.

I am a bit puzzled by this as my impression is that Solway had actually more quotes from Nureyev's colleagues than Kavanagh. Her interviews with Baryshnikov, Martins, Seymour, Tallchief, Mason and Kolpakova, are very indepth and give a kind of daytime reality to everything else. As an American she wrote with a lot of interest about the Soviet trials and tributions of Nureyev's family after he defected (and of his death sentence) . Perhaps as an American she was stronger on interviews with Russian dancers now in America, while Kavanagh is stronger on the European side where his myth is more powerful. I quite like the American cold water style. I was just hoping that after so many years Kavanagh's book would have much more that was different and significant to offer. Anyway, enough already.

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The first mistake that someone else has already pointed out was turning the famous piano professor Yakov Flier into a violinist who she called the joint winner of the Tchaikovsky competition with Van Cliburn. Apart from her getting the instruments wrong, the cause celebre was that Van Cliburn was NOT a joint winner, but the outright one because he was not Russian. So, Nureyev's inspired reaction to Flier's violin -playing, as told, can't be right. Either the author has got it wrong or the person who told her has. This is a corker of a mistake quite early on.

That's a real screamer, all right. Authors, being human, do make mistakes, even some quite obvious ones, but you'd think during the editing process that would have gotten a red flag from somebody.

Enjoyed your review very much, delibes.

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I too enjoyed Delibes' review and I was quite relieved to read it because, unlike most reviers and psoters, I really didn't enjoy this book. I found it contained far too much in the way of irrelevant detail - do we really need to know about every holiday itinerary - and a huge number of mistakes. Too many to list. And I find Kavanagh's chronology somewhat suspect, though I confess I haven't actually checked dates.

I would also suggest that (as with Meredith Daneman's Fonteyn biography) many of sources she quotes have their own agenda with regard to past history, but she seems to accept all their views as gospel truth.

With regard to his relationship with Bruhn, Kavanagh appears to have only one side of their correspondence, which inevitably provides a slanted view. What I know for a fact is that the two men were devoted to each other up until the day of Bruhn's death. And while Nureyev may have had Guillem's photograph by his bed in his Dakota apartment or one of his other houses, the two pictures by the bed at Quai Voltaire were of Fonteyn and Bruhn.

The thing that really made me dislike this book though was my feeling that the author neither liked or admired her subject and her interest is mainly confined to his sex life and his more glamorous friends. I think Solway gives a fairer view, although she too gives us less than we might like about his life on the stage; the most important thing in his life and the engine that drove him - and indulges in rather too much name-dropping.

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I found it contained far too much in the way of irrelevant detail - do we really need to know about every holiday itinerary - and a huge number of mistakes. Too many to list.

Thanks for posting, Alymer. If you have time, please do get to some of those mistakes beyond those already mentioned. This issue has not arisen in many of the reviews, and it’s important. Even a few would be appreciated by all of us,certainly by me, anyway. :)

I would also suggest that (as with Meredith Daneman's Fonteyn biography) many of sources she quotes have their own agenda with regard to past history, but she seems to accept all their views as gospel truth. With regard to his relationship with Bruhn, Kavanagh appears to have only one side of their correspondence, which inevitably provides a slanted view.

I’d say that all interviewees have an ‘agenda’ of some kind, in that they are human beings with their own prejudices and emotions (and no one witness will know or see everything - that person may not be trying to advance an 'agenda' but simply telling what happened as he perceived it). It’s the biographer’s job to sift through this vast quantity of remarks and try to figure out what’s true – or at the very least, accurate – and what isn’t. For some things you may have only one or two live witnesses and no other primary source to check against, making it even tricker. I haven't read the book, but the fact that Kavanagh had only one side of the correspondence is no reason not to use the material if it is valuable enough. The question is in how she used it (which I can't discuss, not having read the book yet).

The thing that really made me dislike this book though was my feeling that the author neither liked or admired her subject

Not all biographical subjects are going to be very likable people – if that were the criterion then a lot of biographies wouldn’t get written. Nureyev was in some respects not a likable man, and there are things not to admire, as well (although I think some of the reviews may have made too much of this).

I've read more than one interview with a biographer where the writer said, 'I started out admiring So-and-so, but the more I learned......"

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I also am grateful for your thoughts on this, aylmer. As dirac says, we really do need to compile a list of errors (which the publishers should also be doing), if for no other reasons than that this book is destined to be quoted as The Source for quite a while.

The agendas of the interviewees is most evident in two areas: the statements of the various competing women who had or imagined themselves to have intimate and unique relationships with him; and the conflicting memories of competing boyfriends. I did not have the impression that Kavanagh was presenting these as though she believed them all to be accurate in detail or even in spirit. There are obviously contradictions which she often points out, or makes obvious by the way the statements are positioned in the text. Otherwise, this material is laid out pretty much as she received it. The author's own interjections tend to be subtle in these matters -- possibly too much so. The witnesses contradict each other, and Nureyev contradicted himself ... frequently. Maybe that is one of the points she is trying to get across.

I suspect that many people will not read -- or enjoy -- this biography as "a literary work." Speaking for myself, I read it as an exhaustive compilation of information, stories, descriptions, transcriptions of interviews and memoirs, all of which related to a man and cultural icon of great importance and interest. The extent of the research is mind-boggling.

Biographers like Boswell, David Cecil, Lytton Strachey, etc., are more selective in the information they ingest, more willing to transform it into their own image of the subject, more concerned with creating a literary work that will stand on its own. People continue to read these works today even though interest in the subjects have waned. They are still read because they are beautifully crafted literary works by Boswell, Cecil, Strachey, not because they are the most accurate and detailed sources of information about Johnson, Melbourne, or the Eminent Victorians. The value of Kavanagh's book is the opposite of this.

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Jennifer Homans's very long and comprehensive review in ' The New Republic ' http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=...dd-058a09d5af2f, which is almost a biography of its own

includes much appreciation for Diane Solway's book, and has a cool reaction to Kavanagh's. A couple of quotes that I concur with.

' Nureyev was not always performing his sex life. Sometimes he was just dancing, and Kavanagh badly underestimates the capacity of art to be its own cause. '

and her conclusion :

' Unfortunately, by focusing so hard on Nureyev's private life, Julie Kavanagh has not taken us any closer to the truth about why he mattered. Instead she reduces his art to the tedious and sordid details of his life. The people who "authorized" her book got what they asked for. The rest of us will wonder why we should care. '

While I did not agree with her opinion that Nureyev was not so much a great dancer as a dancer with perfect timing in his world and time -and really Margot Fonteyn was not ' bourgeois ' at all - generally her last word is close to my overall feeling that this is a missed opportunity. No one will write an acute biography of Nureyev now, ever. Kavanagh has woven him inside a cocoon of sex and society. It will seem even more a pity when Baryshnikov dies and truly excllent biogs of him will appear.

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The Homans review linked by delibes is illustrated with the most beautiful of the book's images of Margot Fonteyn. :)

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The Homans review linked by delibes is illustrated with the most beautiful of the book's images of Margot Fonteyn. :)

Homans claims, arguing against Kavanagh, that "Nureyev had no way to know that his sex life would be any freer in the West. " I think this is patently false. And to say "Defection set Nureyev free, but it destroyed his life and his dancing" is certainly an interesting indirect endorsement of the virtues of a totalitarian state! I guess she's right, in a cynical sense--I mean if Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn hadn't served in a labour camp, he would have never written The Gulag Archipelago.

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The Homans review linked by delibes is illustrated with the most beautiful of the book's images of Margot Fonteyn. :)

Homans claims, arguing against Kavanagh, that "Nureyev had no way to know that his sex life would be any freer in the West. " I think this is patently false. And to say "Defection set Nureyev free, but it destroyed his life and his dancing" is certainly an interesting indirect endorsement of the virtues of a totalitarian state! I guess she's right, in a cynical sense--I mean if Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn hadn't served in a labour camp, he would have never written The Gulag Archipelago.

Good point (about Solzhenitsyn) Ray!

I agree too about the "destroyed his life and his dancing" line. To what dancing are we comparing what dancing? If Homans saw Nureyev, it would have been, I'm guessing (she seems rather young) have been in his last months. And very few Westerners saw Nureyev dance in Russia. I find that line rather stunning. It sounds good, but.....

Off to work on the Go Starve in the Gulag Artist Encouragement Grants Project. "It worked for Solzhenitsyn, it can work for YOU!"

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I found this sentence to be even more of a doozy:

Today, fourteen years after his death and several decades after his best performances, Nureyev's dancing has faded from memory. All that remains are a few videotapes and a mountain of carefully posed photographs.

"A few videotapes"? Nureyev's dancing, for better or for worse, was well-documented throughout his career. It's all there for us to see, and critique. They're studied by students and enjoyed by balletomanes.

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:) Not to defend the gulags in any way of course, but the crucible of great art and invention often is suffering (real or imagined). This concept is famously presented in the movie "The Third Man": "Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

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I've got to readjust something I was thinking here, which was a reference to what I've always seen as a tendency toward excess in him. In the context of the focus of the book it might appear at first that by bringing up a phrase like that, that I'm almost saying that I meant this as a value judgment regarding his personal life, and that's not what I meant. But I did mean it in the sense that in a way, as he started out with nothing and seemed to want everything, it was as though it didn't seem to occur to him that there was a point at which that wasn't always the way to go in some things in life, professionally or personally. Now I'm going to apologize if that seems to be an overly conservative point of view as no one who knows me will take it that way but someone who doesn't might.

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:) Not to defend the gulags in any way of course, but the crucible of great art and invention often is suffering (real or imagined). This concept is famously presented in the movie "The Third Man": "Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

A potentially hot topic! It seems that we can talk about it in reference to a lot of different things--i.e., was NYCB better when the company had to struggle as opposed to now (are they in a 'decadent' phase)? I think it's a fraught and ethically complicated question, full of paradoxes--I mean in the Soviet era, ballet was probably funded better than it is now, so there might have been more "freedom" in a material sense for dancers pursuing their craft than now, yet artistically there was a poverty of creativity (not that rampant capitalism has resulted in that much artistry, to be sure).

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Off to work on the Go Starve in the Gulag Artist Encouragement Grants Project. "It worked for Solzhenitsyn, it can work for YOU!"
Good luck, Alexandra. There are plenty of wacky grant-giving agencies out there. And, heaven knows, there are still lots of gulag-like conditions plaguing our world. A research project that seeks to verify the hypothesis "Suffering is Good for Artists" will probably find donors in the eerier corners of every society. If you don't act quickly, I can think of several Think Tanks that would be willing to jump on that particular bandwagon. :o:dunno::)

Actually, the topic has interesting implications. I don't doubt that adversity -- whether caused by the state, one's family, one's own inner contradictions -- seems to stimulate artistic creation. However, I don't buy the historical analysis behind the Borgias/good art/ Switzerland/cuckoo-clock kind of thinking. It's just not good history. The conditions that prevailed in Renaissance Italy cannot by the furthest stretch of the imagination be described by the simple label "the Borgias" and all that this label implies to us today after centuries of myth-making. Similiarly, the gulags provided powerful subject matter for numerous Soviet writers and intellectuals, but does this meat the "necesary"and sufficient condition" test when we seek causes for the explosiion of high levels of literary creativity that occurred in the last decades of the Soviet Union?

I raise this merely as a question, not knowing the answer. If the answer is "yes," it does indeed raise huge ethical questions about how far one needs to go to encourage art.

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I don't think it's a matter of a need for suffering, but more a restriction to fight against or a rule to bend or break, or, in the case of what Balanchine described as his epiphany in creating Apollo, where he made his own limits through self-editing.

I think Homans question is a reasonable one. I don't think for a moment that Maya Plisetskaya, for example, would have exhibited self-destructive behavior if she had defected to the West in her prime, and she was someone who had ample opportunity to do so, and even addresses this in her book.

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I don't think it's a matter of a need for suffering, but more a restriction to fight against or a rule to bend or break, or, in the case of what Balanchine described as his epiphany in creating Apollo, where he made his own limits through self-editing.
What, I wonder, are the patterns of personal experience -- the common denominators -- that stimulate artistic creativity? It's certainly not smugness or self-satisfaction. So what is it? Conflict? Frustration? Competition? Sense of someting wrong that must be righted?

It would be great to hear people's thoughts on this.

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It's certainly not smugness or self-satisfaction. So what is it? Conflict? Frustration? Competition? Sense of someting wrong that must be righted?

A little bit of all of the above, and yes, bart, i would even add the "self-satisfaction" issue on the list...why not. At the end, everybody seems to agree that in Nureyev's case, for instance, his art was a product of an inner urge, a vital need, something in which HE was involved with himself, (even during PDD's, and oftenly very obvious). Don't we breath to supply OUR OWN body's needs of O2...?, don't we eat to satisfy our PERSONAL hunger...?, hence, artistic creation goes on the same boat sometimes...

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It's certainly not smugness or self-satisfaction. So what is it? Conflict? Frustration? Competition? Sense of someting wrong that must be righted?

A little bit of all of the above, and yes, bart, i would even add the "self-satisfaction" issue on the list...why not. At the end, everybody seems to agree that in Nureyev's case, for instance, his art was a product of an inner urge, a vital need, something in which HE was involved with himself, (even during PDD's, and oftenly very obvious). Don't we breath to supply OUR OWN body's needs of O2...?, don't we eat to satisfy our PERSONAL hunger...?, hence, artistic creation goes on the same boat sometimes...

I agree with cubanmiamiboy, but I would just say it can include anything, and I don't think it has common denominators, at least in terms of 'good character'. Maybe there cannot be any artistic creation by someone with 'no character'. There are too many different kinds of artistic creation too exclude anything. You could even include extensive selfishness as in the case of Picasso, and few are going to argue that he was untalented, and it was all too well-known how monumentally selfish he was. Even evil and insanity can stimulate it, but I only mentioned these because they are the most hard to accept. We tend to want our artistic heroes to be exemplary people, and they are sometimes. But they are not nearly all the time, and sometimes they are only through their art--which in some cases has to depend on the 'bad parts.' But the easy example of how we want our hero artists to be perfect people is the way people follow celebs and pretend they don't care about the bimbo ones, although all you have to do is take a quick look at TMZ to find out that people are extremely concerned over these bimboes' traffic violations. In the past, people got upset with Ingrid Bergman for getting involved with Roberto Rossellini, that didn't fit their image of her. Heavy scholars often talk of the artist is being a kind of custodian of the artwork anyway, so if that's true, and I think there is some truth in it, then the artist could be just as unlike what people find most appealing in his/her work as one of those spiritual channelers tends to be from the lofty Chanellee..

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We tend to want our artistic heroes to be exemplary people, and they are sometimes. But they are not nearly all the time, and sometimes they are only through their art--which in some cases has to depend on the 'bad parts.

Also, there tends to be the feeling (I think) that someone capable of such greatness in one field should excel in the other aspects of life, when, often, I think the opposite is true. Maria Callas's and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's single-minded devotion to their art made them immortal opera singers, but offstage this translated to a ruthlessness that is hard to swallow. Leni Reifenstahl is another very obvious example of someone whose devotion to "art" made her blind to morality.

I remember the first job out of college, I had a rather cruel boss who fired me after three weeks, but told me, "All successful people are alike. They are all very tough, they are all very demanding, and they are all awful people. You will never be tough enough to be successful." There is a dose of truth to that statement. Not everyone is a Tamara Karsavina or Renata Tebaldi, great artists but also good people who lived quiet unassuming lives offstage.

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In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

Roger Federer--seriously, the guy makes tennis an art form...I believe my beloved former dance teacher said that he was the one athlete that made his sport as artistic as ballet.

Just to lighten the mood ;)

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Off to work on the Go Starve in the Gulag Artist Encouragement Grants Project. "It worked for Solzhenitsyn, it can work for YOU!"
Good luck, Alexandra. There are plenty of wacky grant-giving agencies out there. And, heaven knows, there are still lots of gulag-like conditions plaguing our world. A research project that seeks to verify the hypothesis "Suffering is Good for Artists" will probably find donors in the eerier corners of every society. If you don't act quickly, I can think of several Think Tanks that would be willing to jump on that particular bandwagon. :o:dunno::thanks:

Actually, the topic has interesting implications. I don't doubt that adversity -- whether caused by the state, one's family, one's own inner contradictions -- seems to stimulate artistic creation... But does this meat the "necesary"and sufficient condition" test when we seek causes for the explosiion of high levels of literary creativity that occurred in the last decades of the Soviet Union?

I raise this merely as a question, not knowing the answer. If the answer is "yes," it does indeed raise huge ethical questions about how far one needs to go to encourage art.

I completely agree with you. I do count gymnastic as one of the most artistic sports out there, and I'd like to use it as an example, so purists, don't hate :)...but Romania was under Niku Ceascesu when Comaneci amazed the world, and the horrors that she went through AFTER she won in Montreal, and the horrors that she went through if she DIDN'T win or do well. Art which is stimulated by fear is not art, it is cruelty, in my opinion.

Plus, things were peachy in France and in England at the same time that the USSR was producing amazing dancing, and ballet of the same, wonderful quality was being produced there as well...so I think that one can flourish just as well in a free society. I think that those are less profiled because they are boring to the press. Imagine "Artists find it easy to produce their craft" vs. "Torture behind art--the real story behind the XXXXX ballet company" Now? Which sounds better to a drama hungry press?

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Imagine "Artists find it easy to produce their craft" vs. "Torture behind art--the real story behind the XXXXX ballet company" Now? Which sounds better to a drama hungry press?
:thanks:

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