My first book of the year : Leo Castelli et les siens by Annie Cohen-Solal

One thing I love is to start the new year with an inspiring book, a story which transports me, gives me new horizons. It could be a good novel or thriller but I was quite eager to discover this book Leo Castelli et les siens (Leo Castelli and his family) by Annie Cohen-Solal. It is the biography of famed New York art gallerist Leo Castelli.
The author met him in New York 1989 when she worked as cultural counselor to the French Embassy. She fell under the charm of this elegant man and intrigued by his background, set to the task of writing the story of his life which begins in Trieste in 1907.
Annie Cohen-Solal does a super job at describing the social life of this town, and goes back further to the XVIIth century to introduce us to Leo's ancestors. At that time, Trieste was a thriving austrian-hungrian port.
We travel from Trieste to Vienne, where Leo Castelli lived during the first world war, then on to Paris and finally New York in 1940.
I will not bore you with details. What I actually find amazing is the fact that Castelli, besides being an aesthete, but knowing nothing about the art world, opened his art gallery at the very ripe age of 50, in 1957. He felt a true admiration towards artists and often helped them by giving them a regular salary. But mostly, he understood what needed to be done to promote an artist. In that sense, he was a great defender of American art, Andy Warhol, Joseph Kosuth, Jasper Johns and of course Robert Rauschenberg who was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, in 1964.
According to Cohen-Solal, Castelli's accountant was always on the verge of despair because Castelli never quite made money as the earnings were immediately invested in new artists.
This is what I call a true patron of the arts !

I still have a good number of pages to go as it's a thick book of 500p. and since it's cold and wet outside, I don't mind reading most of evenings.....

So tell me, what is your first book of the year ?


Joyful said…
What a wonderful idea to read a book that inspires you as a way to start the new year. I'm going to have to start that as a tradition for myself. My first book of the year was not picked with intention. It is simply a book on my shelves that is on my list "to read". It is called "The Memory Keeper's Daughter", well-written but a sad tale so far. More information here
rochambeau said…
Thank you for this post. This sounds like an inspirational book Lala! It's cool when people in their 50's start a new life!!
Will read this one!

Happy New Year Bella to you and your Cherie~

Ily said…
I like how he kept investing his money in other artist. Rare and beautiful.

My book of the year is and will be one of my favorite Christmas gifts...Great Paintings of the Western World. Although it's mostly a picture book, I am learning art, a-z.

Stay warm and dry, and happy reading, Chica!!
Mélanie said…
Je n'ai pas encore commencé à lire quoi que ce soit mais ce livre m'a l'air pas mal, je crois que cela va être mon premier livre de l'année pour moi aussi !
Well you have certainly started the year of with one really interesting book!

take care,
My first book of the year? DIY Plumbing! I'm in the middle of a bathroom remodel. Your book sounds so much better! I'll put it on my list.
David Engel said…
Hi Lala,

Castelli certainly had quite an effect on the Art World! Glad you're enjoying this book. Stay warm!

I've been loving the works of Kate Atkinson. I read her "When Will There Br God News?" and am now reading "Case Histories". I have another one of her works "One Good Turn" ready to go next! These are brilliantly written novels that happen to be about murders etc... You should try them.


I'll have to read this one day. I love to read anything about the New York art world. I have several first books of the New Year - one is the new novel by Barbara Kingsolver, entitled 'La Lacuna', and the other is 'An Anthology of Odes' by Pablo Neruda. New photography books too - of Venice, and Greece and Mexico. So, I'm set for awhile I think...although that won't stop me from buying more! I'm running out of space. Help!

Catherine xx
I would say he was a visionary. And sometimes you need that in the art world as much as you need real talent. Many thanks for the review.

Greetings from cold and snowy London.

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