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Leo and His Circle

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Leo and His Circle by Annie Cohen-Solal
May 18, 2010 | ISBN 9780307593047

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  • May 18, 2010 | ISBN 9780307593047

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“Cohen-Solal writes wonderfully about Castelli’s gifts of personality [and] delivers the silky story of a classic American immigrant overachiever…. [S]erious, probing… beautiful…. photographs, sprinkled throughout, pop from the page.”
           —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“[M]onumental…. gripping portraits…. thrilling…. Her ample monograph is really three complex studies….Cohen-Solal’s disclosure of the distinguished Jewish family history of which Castelli himself was only in part aware—when he was not ignoring or suppressing it for purposes of social advancement—is a miracle of  scholarship. Her reconstruction of the incinerated Austro-Hungarian golden age, including the world of Eastern European and Italian banking, is astonishing. And her telling of Castelli’s own life story makes for a great bildungsroman…. [a] 360-degree tour d’horizon.”
            —Robert Pincus-Witten, Artforum
“[E]legant….Cohen-Solal…has practically created two independent books…one examining the Castelli family’s trials and tribulations over five generations, the second picking up in detail after Leo’s arrival in the U.S. in 1941…Both, it should be said, are well worth reading….Cohen-Solal narrates Castelli’s career….[with] revealing insights….[and] does the great service of showing just how the art world metastasized into a big business driven by celebrity artists represented by celebrity dealers.”
            —Mark Lamster, Los Angeles Times
“Cohen-Solal expands Castelli’s life story into one of sufficient historical and cultural resonance to interest not just art lovers but a general audience as well, offering a richly detailed account of Castelli’s upbringing…unearthing his family’s multigenerational history…and narrating in often mesmerizing prose the tragic rise of fascism….[a] very impressive book [that] present[s] a wide-ranging discussion with many compelling observations about what made the dealer tick.”
            —Jonathan Lopez, Boston Globe
“[A] n impeccably judicious book….detailed and savvy….[Cohen-Solal] provides a backstory…that is ….absorbing and [a] highly relevant scrutiny of the historic loam that produced a bloom as exotic as Castelli.”
           —Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker
“Leo Castelli was my friend, partner and unwitting mentor; and yet this biography comes as a startling revelation. With great skill and understanding, Annie Cohen-Solal has brought to life a singular personality—uniquely charming, erudite and savvy—and shown us precisely how he created the business model that the art world follows to this day. Leo and His Circle is a testament to a great professional legacy and an unlikely life story as compelling as a fine novel.”
           —Larry Gagosian
Leo and His Circle truly captures the essence of the man. Leo set a standard, an ethical standard that has never been surpassed. He was always inclusive, building a sense of community and a constituency for contemporary art that never existed before.”
           —Peter M. Brant
“[Cohen-Solal] gives us with great skill a history of the Jews in Monte San Savino in the 17th century, the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, the fall of France, the blossoming of the art world starting in the middle of the 20th century, and the emergence of Pop art, Minimalism, and Conceptualism….Her virtuosity keeps you reading….marvelous….fascinating.”
            —Milton Esterow, ARTnews
“Cohen-Solal writes with passionate intensity and poetic precision….establishes a remarkably vivid cultural context for the artists, beginning with Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, Castelli zealously and shrewdly championed….[and] has created an invaluable, magnificently encompassing, and compelling biography of extraordinary scope, energy, and feeling.”
           —Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
“Cohen-Solal deftly integrates European cultural history (beginning with Castelli’s Jewish merchant ancestors) with Castelli’s intellectual, personal, and professional evolution. Cohen-Solal writes with energy, wit, and aplomb …. [her] biography fleshes out not only a fascinating portrait of Castelli but also the excitement of the developing American art world to which he was so central.”
           —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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