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: Aug 20, 2012
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Picasso: Creator and Destroyer
[Read by Wanda McCaddon]

This landmark biography penetrates the barriers of legend to bring to full and intimate life a man whose burning passions--for painting, for women, for ideas--were matched by a compulsion to invent reality in his life no less than in his art. Here is the tragic story of a man who, from his teenage passion for a gypsy boy to the chilling bitterness and betrayals of his old age, was unable to love and was driven to dominate and humiliate the women--and the many men--who fell under his hypnotic spell.

Drawing on a wealth of startling revelations, including the vivid memories of Picasso's daughter Maya and the heretofore untold recollections of Francoise Gilot, who shared his life for ten years and bore two of his children, the author has stripped bare the romantic myths to reveal, in all its volatile complexity, Picasso's lifelong struggle between his power to create and his compulsion to destroy.
release date: Dec 31, 2018
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You Belong to the Universe

A compelling call to apply Buckminster Fuller's creative problem solving to present-day problems

A self-professed "comprehensive anticipatory design scientist," the inventor Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) was undoubtedly a visionary. Fuller's creations often bordered on the realm of science fiction, ranging from the freestanding geodesic dome to the three-wheel Dymaxion car to a bathroom requiring neither plumbing nor sewage. Yet in spite of his brilliant mind and lifelong devotion to serving mankind, Fuller's expansive ideas were often dismissed, and have faded from public memory since his death.

You Belong to the Universe documents Fuller's six-decade quest to "make the world work for 100 percent of humanity." Critic and experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats sets out to revive Fuller's unconventional practice of comprehensive anticipatory design, placing Fuller's philosophy in a modern context and dispelling much of the mythology surrounding Fuller's life. Keats argues that Fuller's life and ideas, namely doing "the most with the least," are now more relevant than ever as humanity struggles to meet the demands of an exploding world population with finite resources. Delving deeply into Buckminster Fuller's colorful world, Keats applies Fuller's most important concepts to present-day issues, arguing that his ideas are now not only feasible, but necessary.

From transportation to climate change, urban design to education, You Belong to the Universe demonstrates that Fuller's holistic problem-solving techniques may be the only means of addressing some of the world's most pressing issues. Keats' timely book challenges each of us to become comprehensive anticipatory design scientists, providing the necessary tools for continuing Fuller's legacy of improving the world.

release date: May 12, 2015
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Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
In this groundbreaking book, Mann's preoccupation with family, race, mortality, and the storied landscape of the American South are revealed as almost genetically predetermined, written into her DNA by the family history that precedes her. Sorting through boxes of family papers and yellowed photographs she finds more than she bargained for: ''deceit and scandal . . . racial complications, vast sums of money made and lost, the return of the prodigal son, and maybe even bloody murder.'' In lyrical prose and startlingly revealing photographs, she crafts a totally original form of personal history that has the page-turning drama of a great novel.
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: Jan 20, 2013
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Rodin: A Biography
[Read by Simon Vance]

Auguste Rodin was not only the greatest sculptor but also one of the most remarkable personalities of modern times. Frederic V. Grunfeld's exhaustive biography, the first in over fifty years, documents a lifetime of both artistic and personal struggle - against poverty, against the conservative Salon, and against an art establishment that for years denied him recognition.

Rodin's crucial love affair with his pupil, Camille Claudel, emerges here in all its tragic complexity, as do his relationships with the British painter Gwen John and the American-born duchess Claire de Choiseul. Grunfeld also sheds new light on Rodin's friendships with some of the most gifted writers and artists of the day, from Robert Louis Stevenson and George Bernard Shaw to Emile Zola and James McNeill Whistler.
release date: Jul 04, 2017
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Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order)
[*This audiobook Contains a PDF of illustrations]
[Read by Tavia Gilbert]

Historically, major women artists have been excluded from the mainstream art canon. Aligned with the resurgence of feminism in pop culture, Broad Strokes offers an entertaining corrective to that omission. Art historian Bridget Quinn delves into the lives and careers of fifteen brilliant female artists in this smart, feisty, educational, and enjoyable book.

*Replete with beautiful reproductions of the artists' works and contemporary portraits of each artist by renowned illustrator Lisa Congdon, this is art history from 1600 to the present day for the modern art lover, reader, and feminist.

release date: Oct 07, 2014
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Leonardo's Brain: Understanding da Vinci's Creative Genius

Bestselling author Leonard Shlain explores the life, art, and mind of Leonardo da Vinci, seeking to explain his singularity by looking at his achievements in art, science, psychology, and military strategy (yes), and then employing state of the art left-right brain scientific research to explain his universal genius. Shlain shows that no other person in human history has excelled in so many different areas as Da Vinci and he peels back the layers to explore the how and the why.

Leonardo’s Brain uses Da Vinci as a starting point for an exploration of human creativity. With his lucid style, and his remarkable ability to discern connections in a wide range of fields, Shlain brings the listener into the world of history’s greatest mind.

Shlain asserts that Leonardo’s genius came from a unique creative ability that allowed him to understand and excel in a wide range of fields. From here Shlain jumps off and discusses the history and current research on human creativity that revolves around the right brain-left brain split. Most of us now know that there is a split between the right and the left side of the brain; the left primarily controls our rational mind, the right our emotions.

Shlain discusses the cutting edge research that is refining our understanding of the split brain model and deepening our knowledge about the nature of human creativity. There is more integration between the left and right brains than previously thought. Shlain argues that Leonardo was unique in human history for the degree of integration that he showed. He also speculates on whether or not the qualities of Leonardo’s brain and his creativity presage the future evolution of man.

Leonardo’s Brain integrates art, history, science, medicine, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy uniting all of the ideas that Leonard Shlain studied and wrote about since the publication of the influential and bestselling Art and Physics in 1991.

release date: Apr 15, 2014
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Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance
[Read by Liisa Ivary]

Celebrated scholar Carla Kaplan's cultural biography focuses on white women, collectively called ''Miss Anne,'' who became Harlem Renaissance insiders. The 1920s in New York City was a time of freedom, experimentation, and passion--with Harlem at the epicenter. White men could go uptown to see jazz and modern dance, but women who embraced black culture too enthusiastically could be ostracized. Miss Anne in Harlem focuses on six of the unconventional, free-thinking women, some from Manhattan high society, many Jewish, who crossed race lines and defied social conventions to become a part of the culture and heartbeat of Harlem.
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.
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