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Baker's Dozen

A Life Turning Pages: Robert Forster's Favourite Books
Aug Stone , April 8th, 2020 09:22

The Go-Betweens founder takes Aug Stone through his 'eclectic even to himself' reading tastes


John Richardson - Picasso 1881-1906
I love biography. It's probably my favourite kind of writing. I almost have to do less of it. There's a biography of the artist Willem De Kooning, who I knew almost nothing about and had only seen a little of his work. And I just found it enthralling, because it was so beautifully written. The person I'm reading about doesn't have to be someone that I really love or really know, if the biography's well-written I'll go there. But obviously with Picasso I knew who he was and I'd seen his art. Richardson's is an amazing biography, and he does something new with it. It's a beautiful book in that there's a lot of paintings and sketches and stuff, so it's pictorial also. He's talking about the work and the work is beside you. And the relationship between the amount of text and image is exactly right. He just walks you through Picasso's life. Generally as a rule when I'm reading biography I find it far more interesting when people are unknown than when they're known. When they become famous a predictability comes in. I like the phase when they're growing up and how they become famous. So of the three volumes Richardson wrote before he died, Volume One is my favourite, the first twenty-five years of his life. Richardson's knowledge is immense, he knew Picasso. It's a great book - personal but also authoritative, very readable, great subject.

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