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Leo & His Circle

Annie Cohen-Solal’s biography of Leo Castelli, published as Leo Castelli et les siens by Gallimard, has been translated into English by Mark Polizzotti and the author, and published as Leo & His Circle by Knopf. The book has been widely reviewed, including:

  • Peter Schjeldahl, “Leo the Lion,” The New Yorker: “In 1951, Castelli financed—paying a few hundred dollars for rent and publicity—and helped hang the breakout Ninth Street Show, of sixty-one artists, including the cream of the New York School. After the opening, he had the signal pleasure of going to the Cedar Tavern with Alfred Barr, who, previously having resisted the local avant-garde, humbly wrote the artists’ names on the backs of photographs of work that Castelli handed him.”
  • Mark Stevens, “Dapper Dealer,” Bookforum: “I recently asked the historian of the period, Irving Sandler, whether Castelli had a great eye. He answered, ‘Leo had a great ear.’…. Cohen-Solal is worshipful; she has no inclination, therefore, to bring a Balzacian eye to bear on Castelli’s public, private, and inner lives.”
  • Eric Banks, “The Art Dealer of the Century,” Slate: “‘I am not an art dealer. I am a gallerist,‘ Castelli, who died in 1998 at age 91, told Cohen-Solal, who sometimes succumbs to the Castelli magic herself.”
  • Michèle C. Cone, Artnet: “The shortage of artists’ testimonies is particularly regrettable…”
  • François Sergent, Libération: “Annie Cohen-Solal cite ainsi un texte odieux d’Alain Bosquet dans Combat, daté de 1964. L’écrivain français y juge que «la consécration du peintre américain Rauschenberg est un événement dégradant dont on peut se demander si l’art de l’Occident pourra se relever».”
  • Valérie Duponchelle, Le Figaro
  • Deborah Solomon, NYTBR: “‘Leo had no idea, no vision of his own,’ Robert Storr, the critic and dean of the Yale School of Art, tells the author, not implausibly. Castelli, he feels, was ‘a go-between with an exceptional gift for public relations.’ Once, on a visit to Bruce Nauman’s studio for an advance peek at the artist’s latest homemade video, Castelli fell asleep.”
  • Dwight Garner, NYT: “[Tom Wolfe]: ‘Leo is the eternal Continental diplomat, with a Louis-salon accent that is no longer Italian; rather, Continental. Every word he utters slips through a small velvet Mediterranean smile. His voice is soft, suave, and slightly humid, like a cross between Peter Lorre and the first secretary of a French embassy.'”
  • Amanda Vaill, Washington Post
  • Mark Lamster, Los Angeles Times
  • Jonathan Lopez, Boston Globe

See also:


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