Best Selling Audio Books in Arts & Literature - Artists, Architects & Photographers

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release date: Oct 17, 2017
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Leonardo da Vinci
The #1 New York Times Bestseller

“A powerful story of an exhilarating mind and life...a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it.”—The New Yorker

“Vigorous, insightful.”—The Washington Post

“A masterpiece.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Luminous.”—The Daily Beast

He was history’s most creative genius. What secrets can he teach us?

The author of the acclaimed bestsellers Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography.

Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson weaves a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.

He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. But in his own mind, he was just as much a man of science and technology. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man, made him history’s most creative genius.

His creativity, like that of other great innovators, came from having wide-ranging passions. He peeled flesh off the faces of cadavers, drew the muscles that move the lips, and then painted history’s most memorable smile. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. Isaacson also describes how Leonardo’s lifelong enthusiasm for staging theatrical productions informed his paintings and inventions.

Leonardo’s delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance of instilling, both in ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it—to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.
release date: Nov 03, 2015
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M Train
National Best Seller 

From the National Book Award–winning author of Just Kids: an unforgettable odyssey of a legendary artist, told through the prism of the cafés and haunts she has worked in around the world. It is a book Patti Smith has described as “a roadmap to my life.”

M Train begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. Through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, and across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations, we travel to Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico; to a meeting of an Arctic explorer’s society in Berlin; to a ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York’s Far Rockaway that Smith acquires just before Hurricane Sandy hits; and to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud, and Mishima.

Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft and on artistic creation. Here, too, are singular memories of Smith’s life in Michigan and the irremediable loss of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith.

Braiding despair with hope and consolation, illustrated with her signature Polaroids, M Train is a meditation on travel, detective shows, literature, and coffee. It is a powerful, deeply moving book by one of the most remarkable multiplatform artists at work today.


From the Hardcover edition.
release date: Mar 14, 2017
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Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet
On October 31, 1517 an unknown monk nailed a theological pamphlet to a church door in a small university town and set in motion a process that helped usher in the modern world. Within a few years Luther's ideas had spread like wildfire. His attempts to reform Christianity by returning it to its biblical roots split the Western Church, divided Europe, and polarized people's beliefs. Yet Luther was a deeply flawed human being: a fervent believer tormented by spiritual doubts; a prolific writer whose translation of the Bible would shape the German language yet whose attacks on his opponents were vicious and foul-mouthed. Perhaps surprisingly, the man who helped create in the modern world was not modern himself: for him the devil was not a figure of speech but a real, physical presence. Acclaimed historian Lyndal Roper explains how Luther's impact can only be understood against the background of the times. As a brilliant biographer, she gives us the flesh-and-blood figure, reveals the often contradictory psychological forces that drove Luther forward, and the dynamics they unleashed, which turned a small act of protest into a battle against the power of the Church.
release date: Jan 10, 2006
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The Judgment of Paris: Manet, Meissonier and the Birth of Impressionism
While the Civil War raged in America, another very different revolution was beginning to take shape across the Atlantic, in the studios of Paris: The artists who would make Impressionism the most popular art form in history were showing their first paintings amidst scorn and derision from the French artistic establishment. Indeed, no artistic movement has ever been, at its inception, quite so controversial. The drama of its birth, played out on canvas, would at times resemble a battlefield; and, as Ross King reveals, Impressionism would reorder both history and culture as it resonated around the world.

The Judgment of Paris chronicles the dramatic decade between two famous exhibitions--the scandalous Salon des Refuses in 1863 and the first Impressionist showing in 1874--set against the rise and dramatic fall of Napoleon III and the Second Empire after the Franco-Prussian War. A tale of many artists, it revolves around the lives of two, described as "the two poles of art"--Ernest Meissonier, the most famous and successful painter of the 19th century, hailed for his precision and devotion to history; and Edouard Manet, reviled in his time, who nonetheless heralded the most radical change in the history of art since the Renaissance. Out of the fascinating story of their parallel lives, illuminated by their legendary supporters and critics--Zola, Delacroix, Courbet, Baudelaire, Whistler, Monet, Hugo, Degas, and many more--Ross King shows that their contest was not just about Art, it was about competing visions of a rapidly changing world.

With a novelist's skill and the insight of an historian, King recalls a seminal period when Paris was the artistic center of the world, and a revolutionary movement had the power to electrify and divide a nation.
release date: Jun 27, 2017
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Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, The Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge
"I know that nothing can be done perfectly at the first trial; I also know that each day brings its little quota of experiences, which with honest intentions, will lead to perfection after a while." -Washington Roebling His father conceived of the Brooklyn Bridge, but after John Roebling's sudden death, Washington Roebling built what has become one of American's most iconic structures-as much a part of New York as the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. Yet, as recognizable as the bridge is, its builder is too often forgotten-and his life is of interest far beyond his chosen field. It is the story of immigrants, of the frontier, of the greatest crisis in American history, and of the making of the modern world. Forty years after the publication of The Great Bridge, David McCullough's classic chronicle of how the East River was spanned, Erica Wagner has written a fascinating biography of one of America's most distinguished engineers, a man whose long life was a model of courage in the face of extraordinary adversity. Chief Engineer is enriched by Roebling's own eloquent voice, unveiled in his recently discovered memoir that was previously thought lost to history.
release date: Oct 25, 2016
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Walk Through Walls: A Memoir
“I had experienced absolute freedom—I had felt that my body was without boundaries, limitless; that pain didn’t matter, that nothing mattered at all—and it intoxicated me.”

In 2010, more than 750,000 people stood in line at Marina Abramović’s MoMA retrospective for the chance to sit across from her and communicate with her nonverbally in an unprecedented durational performance that lasted more than 700 hours. This celebration of nearly fifty years of groundbreaking performance art demonstrated once again that Marina Abramović is truly a force of nature.

The child of Communist war-hero parents under Tito’s regime in postwar Yugoslavia, she was raised with a relentless work ethic. Even as she was beginning to build an international artistic career, Marina lived at home under her mother’s abusive control, strictly obeying a 10 p.m. curfew. But nothing could quell her insatiable curiosity, her desire to connect with people, or her distinctly Balkan sense of humor—all of which informs her art and her life. The beating heart of Walk Through Walls is an operatic love story—a twelve-year collaboration with fellow performance artist Ulay, much of which was spent penniless in a van traveling across Europe—a relationship that began to unravel and came to a dramatic end atop the Great Wall of China.

Marina’s story, by turns moving, epic, and dryly funny, informs an incomparable artistic career that involves pushing her body past the limits of fear, pain, exhaustion, and danger in an uncompromising quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. A remarkable work of performance in its own right, Walk Through Walls is a vivid and powerful rendering of the unparalleled life of an extraordinary artist.
release date: Aug 22, 2017
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Sargent's Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas
With unprecedented access to newly discovered sources, Donna M. Lucey illuminates the lives of four extraordinary women painted by the iconic high-society portraitist John Singer Sargent. With uncanny clairvoyance, Sargent's portraits hint at the mysteries, passions, and tragedies that unfolded in his subjects' lives. Sequestered in a fantasy-land castle in the remote Rocky Mountains, Elsie Palmer carried on a labyrinthine love life; Elizabeth Chanler stepped into a maze of infidelity with her best friend's husband; as the veiled image of Sally Fairchild?beautiful, commanding, and poison-tongued?emerged on Sargent's canvas, the power of his artistry lured her sister Lucia into an ill-fated life in art; shrewd, iron-willed Isabella Stewart Gardner collected both art and young men. Born to unimaginable wealth, these women lived on an operatic scale, and their letters and diaries create a rich depiction of the Gilded Age and the acclaimed but secretive painter whose canvases defined the era.
release date: Sep 27, 2016
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The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships, Betrayals, and Breakthroughs in Modern Art
Rivalry is at the heart of some of the most famous and fruitful relationships in history. The Art of Rivalry follows eight celebrated artists, each linked to a counterpart by friendship, admiration, envy, and ambition. All eight are household names today. But to achieve what they did, each needed the influence of a contemporary-one who was equally ambitious but possessed sharply contrasting strengths and weaknesses. Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas were close associates whose personal bond frayed after Degas painted a portrait of Manet and his wife. Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso swapped paintings, ideas, and influences as they jostled for the support of collectors like Leo and Gertrude Stein and vied for the leadership of a new avant-garde. Jackson Pollock's uninhibited style of "action painting" triggered a breakthrough in the work of his older rival, Willem de Kooning. Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon met in the early 1950s, when Bacon was being hailed as Britain's most exciting new painter and Freud was working in relative obscurity. Their intense but asymmetrical friendship came to a head when Freud painted a portrait of Bacon, which was later stolen.
release date: Jul 01, 2013
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Lives of the Artists: Volume 1
[Read by Wanda McCaddon]

[This is the Volume 1 Audio CD format: 9781470889562]

Georgio Vasari's original vision of the arts was to see the artist as divinely inspired. This historical work describes the lives of forty-five artists, including Giotto, Brunelleschi, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Titian, with striking immediacy conveyed through character sketches, anecdotes, and detailed recording of conversations. Despite some factual inaccuracies, Michelangelo praised Vasari for endowing artists with immortality. Vasari's shrewd judgments and his precise pinpointing of the emotions aroused by individual works of art bear out his prediction that he would have a worldwide influence on the history of art.

Volume One covers the following artists: Cimabue, Giotto, Uccello, Ghiberti, Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, Alberti, Fra Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Verrocchio, Mantegna, Leonardo da Vinci, Giorgione, Correggio, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Titian, as well as additional notes on the artists.

[Volume 2 Audio CD format is 9781470889593]

release date: May 01, 2001
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John Adams
The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of Truman sheds new light on America's second president, chronicling the life and times of Adams's youth, his career as a Massachusetts farmer and lawyer, his marriage to Abigail, his rivalry with Thomas Jefferson, and his remarkable influence on the birth of the United States of America. Read by the author.
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