Author(s): Rick Gekoski
This book tells the stories behind the disappearances of some of our most famous works of art - and some that never existed at all. Like Sherlock Holmes' dog in the night time, sometimes the true significance of things lies in their absence. Rick Gekoski tells the very human stories that lie behind some of the greatest losses to artistic culture - and addresses the questions such disappearances raise. Some of the items are stolen (the "Mona Lisa"), some destroyed (like Philip Larkin's diaries, shredded, then burnt, on his dying request) and some were lost before they even existed, like the career of the brilliant art deco architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which foundered amid a lack of cash - but behind all of them lies an often surprising story which reveals a lot about what art means to us. Gekoski explores in depth the greater questions these tremendous losses raise - such as the rights artists and authors have over their own work, the importance of the search for perfection in creativity, and what motivated people to queue to see the empty space where the "Mona Lisa" once hung in the Louvre.
This fascinating book by Rick Gekoski sets out to explain how and why works of art and literature have vanished. Works such as a portrait of Winston Churchill, which Churchill hated and which his wife burnt after his death to the despair of the painter and the horror of the art world; Byron’s memoirs, yet another disposal (this time by Byron’s friends); and, of local interest, the theft of McCahon’s Urewera Mural. This is a really interesting and lively book which will appeal to a wide audience. - Marie
"'A natural and skilled storyteller' (Colm Toibin) 'Think Bill Bryson, only on books' (Tatler)"
Rick Gekoski is is a rare book dealer, writer, and broadcaster. His previous publications include The Bibliography of William Golding, Staying Up (on Premiership Football), a collection of essays entitled Tolkien's Gown and Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books, and Outside of a Dog. He has presented two BBC Radio 4 series: Rare Books, Rare People and Lost, Stolen, or Shredded: The History of Some Missing Works of Art on BBC Radio 4, and was chair of judges for the Man Booker International Prize 2011.