The Art of Rivalry

text-publishing-sebastian-smee-the-art-of-rivalryGenius, friend, rival: this is the story of four pairs of artists whose intense relationships spurred and shaped their art. In The Art of Rivalry, Pulitzer prize-winning Australian art critic, Sebastian Smee reveals the friendships and feuds of some of the world’s most famous artists.

Rivals in the modern era were competing not just to be the most advanced artistically, the most audacious, the most important… The art of rivalry is the struggle of intimacy itself: the restless, twitching battle to get closer to someone, which must somehow be balanced with the battle to remain unique.

Matisse and Picasso. Manet and Degas. Bacon and Freud. De Kooning and Pollock. Eight of the most significant modern artists; four pairs linked by friendship and a shared spirit of competitiveness. But in each case the relationship had a flashpoint, a damaging psychological event that seemed to mark both an end and a beginning, a break that led to audacious creative innovations.

Absorbing, informed and provocative, Sebastian Smee’s The Art of Rivalry takes us to heart of each of these relationships. It offers revelatory insights into the ways in which these major artists influenced and changed each other—and into their ultimate quest “to be unique, original, inimitable; to acquire the solitude, the singularity, of greatness”.

Sebastian Smee is the Boston Globe’s art critic. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2009 and a winner in 2011. His writing about art has appeared in many of the leading papers in Australia, the UK and the US. He grew up in Adelaide.

The Art of Rivalry is published by Text Publishing. For more information, visit: for details.

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