This week, editor Liv Siddall wonders why you don’t see that many autobiographies from creatives. Seen any? Disagree? Throw in your two cents in our comments section at the bottom.
Damien Hirst has just announced that he’s going to tell all in an autobiography coming out soon that is, in co-writer James Fox’s words, going to reveal Damien’s “semi-criminal” past.
If we can, let’s just put that on the back-burner for a minute, and have a think of which other artists or designers have made autobiographies. Think of any? Me neither. Sure, there are monographs, show catalogues and big, coffee table-bucking books about their work, but not so many paperback life stories written by the artist themselves.
A brief spell on the internet led me to discover that yes, there have been a few. Yayoi Kusama has made one called Infinity Net and rather excitingly, Frank Lloyd Wright wrote one too that I had no idea about. There are a few more here and there, but you can go and look into that later.
What puzzles me is that surely, surely they’d sell really well. Who could have more stories to tell than those who stayed up getting pissed with Picasso in his chateau one summer, or artists that spent periods of time lounging, smoking Vogues in Warhol’s Factory? Even Damien’s counterparts, the illustrious YBA’s must have some fun stories. Michael Landy once told us about the private view of YBA’s infamous Freeze show and about how he missed out on being in the famous photo of them all together because he was “at the shop buying ice” for everyone’s drinks. There must be loads of funny stories like that.
Are artists too busy to make autobiographies? Or could you argue that their life is already written in the work they create? I had a think about what other kinds of people tend to write them and my brain came back with Jordan, footballers and comedians. One look at the Guardian’s very handy list of bestselling autobiographies since 2001 showed that I had pretty much nailed that. Dave Pelzer’s A Child Called It held the top spot, contrasted with Peter Kay at a close second.
Those two oddly appealing reads aside, there aren’t many others in that list that I’d chose to read over, say, a book written by Keith Haring about his time spray painting all over New York. I’m sure Richard Hammond and Sharon Osborne did some cool stuff, yeah, but imagine hearing anecdotes selected from the upbringing of a design legend like Milton Glaser.
I’m looking forward to reading Damien’s book, really. But is has got me wondering about the worth of these books, the importance of refraining from a tell-all à la Simon Cowell, and more importantly which artist’s life I would most love to get really stuck into. What about you?
- Give thanks, and join us in the weekly feast that is the Best of the Web
- Discos and design explored in gorgeous new Bedford Press book Nightswimming
- Unusual nudes and strange, glittering fashion photography from Arnaud Lajeunie
- Seoul-based studio Chung Choon applies an elegance and simplicity to its posters
- See the work of some of Nick Knight's most impressive new protégés
- Designer Chloe Pannatier looks at fakes and risk in art and money
- Jonathan Barnbrook talks us through designing David Bowie's new album artwork
- Should illustrators be treated like designers?
- Anthony Burrill tells us about his numerous Etsy WORK HARD rip-offs
- Colourful masses with a Memphis aesthetic in Mariano Pascual’s illustrated alphabet
- Japanese illustrator Nimura Daisuke is back with his charmingly naughty gifs
- Grey London's thoughtful, powerful and innovative new campaign for Tate Britain