“How to Tell the Story of Art” with Ross King


Episode 63:




When Ross Kind decided to tell the story of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, he didn’t start with the paint colors or brushes; he started with politics, gossip, power and intrigue. When he told the story of Brunelleschi’s dome for the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, he started with competition and rivalry. Is this how we should tell the story or art? Is one painting or one building so complex, that he needs hundreds of pages to prepare the audience? Ross King thinks so and we’re going to find out why.

Ross King is the bestselling author of six books on Italian, French and Canadian art and history. He has also published two historical novels, Domino (1995) and Ex-Libris (1998), and edited a collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s fables, jokes and riddles. Translated into more than a dozen languages, his books have been nominated for a National Book Critics’ Circle Award, the Charles Taylor Prize, and the National Award for Arts Writing. He has won both the Governor General’s Award in Canada (for The Judgment of Paris) and the Book Sense Non-Fiction Book of the Year in the United States (for Brunelleschi’s Dome).

His latest book, Leonardo and The Last Supper, has been described as ‘gripping’ (New York Times), ‘fascinating’ (Financial Times), ‘engaging’ (The Guardian), ‘enthralling’ (Daily Mail), ‘absorbing’ (Kirkus), ‘engrossing’ (Booklist), and ‘extraordinary’ (Irish Times). Leonardo and The Last Supper was awarded the 2012 Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction.

Ross King’s website can be found here.

The picture of my daughter Adina, mentioned in the episode:

Mollie Douthit’s webpage, the young up-and-coming artist I mentioned during out discussion of patronage.

Joyce Ellen Weinstein’s webpage, Jack Russell Weinstein’s mother, a lifelong visual artist, mentioned in our discussion of the price of art.


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