A Painter Writes of Murder Among the Abstract Expressionists – The New York Times

By Carol Kino Can artists control the way history records them? How do some manipulate their legends – and what fate befalls those who can’t, or who loathe the very idea? Such questions, fodder for much contemporary art gossip and art historical research, fuel “The Killing Art,” by Jonathan Santlofer, a New York painter who has increased his own fame and fortune recently by writing murder mysteries set in the New York art world. Unlike his previous two books, however, Mr. Santlofer’s new tale is rooted in a real-life art historical episode: a gathering of Abstract Expressionist artists in April 1950. There, the unpleasant reality unfolded that by the end some artists would be in and some out. And the anointed were depicted a few months later in an iconic photograph in Life magazine. That meeting has been documented, most recently in “De Kooning: An American Master,” a 2004 biography by Mark Stevens and Annalyn … Read more

Brush With Death – Slate Magazine

by Carol Kino There’s a terrific art world novel out this season, and it isn’t Updike’s. American art novels tend to come in two varieties—commercial and literary. The commercial kind tends to focus on chic-but-sleazy openings and socializing, which are undoubtedly the most vapid, least interesting aspect of the scene. The literary kind usually gives this cliché-ridden territory a twist by interpolating the life story of another cliché—some saintly personage who seeks bliss far from the madding crowd, in plain old traditional painting. It goes without saying that both kinds are usually penned by people who seem to have little insight into the world they attempt to conjure. John Updike’s Seek My Face, this fall’s leading entry into the art novel sweepstakes, falls straightinto the same traps as so many other literary art novels. It’s a roman à clef that uses a semi-invented artist character to re-imagine the story of postwar American art. Happily, though, … Read more