Michelangelo redefined what it means to be an artist and possibly even our very notion of genius. Michelangelo: A Life In Six Masterpieces puts his art in the political, religious, and cultural context of the time and gives us a fascinating psychological portrait of the man, complete with artistic self-confidence, prickly personality, concern with fame and reputation, and perfectionism. Miles Unger’s thoughtful biography is the perfect introduction to both Michelangelo’s art and life.
Eye of the Beholder is a fascinating mix of art history and history of science, told through biographies of Johannes Vermeer and Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek. Snyder explores how the invention of microscope, telescope, and devices like camera obscura changed our theories of vision and perhaps even changed how we perceive the world. Vivid and lively, this is perfect non-fiction for both (quoting Van Leeuwenhoek) ‘curious gentlemen dabblers’ and 'learned philosophers' alike.
Norman Rockwell’s images can be found everywhere – I grew up with a big fat coffee table book called “Norman Rockwell’s America.” His images – such as “Freedom from Want,” “Rosie the Riveter,” “Gone Fishin’,” “The Shiner,” and of course “The Problem We All Live With” are almost universally familiar. In reading Ms. Solomon’s new biography of Rockwell you see that when he painted Americans - predominantly white Americans, it must be said - he was portraying us not as we were but as we could be or most want to be. However, we feel about it now, Norman Rockwell’s work is a fundamental part of our cultural DNA, and Ms. Solomon’s superb book gives us a superb analysis of this American icon.