Venus Betrayed

The Private World of Edouard Vuillard

Julia Frey

Venus Betrayed

Julia Frey

Distributed for Reaktion Books

424 pages | 220 color plates, 40 halftones | 7 1/2 x 9 3/4
Cloth $55.00 ISBN: 9781789141603 Published December 2019 For sale in North and South America only
Édouard Vuillard was so secretive that he berated himself for betraying his emotions in conversation. He was a reticent, impassioned man, at once a timid stalker and a social climbing anarchist, caught in conflicting desires. From the 1880s until the advent of World War II, using styles from academic to pointillist to Nabi to Fauve, Vuillard’s abundant paintings revealed his turmoil of love and hatred: models pose beside a plaster torso cast from the Venus of Milo, women appear without faces, anxiety radiates from many masterpieces—while other works were left unfinished for months or years.

Drawing on insights and images from Vuillard’s still unpublished diaries, Julia Frey takes us into Vuillard’s private world of cabarets, experimental theaters, holiday resorts, and intimate boudoirs, showing how his art reflects his fraught personal relations and his artistic struggles. Frey highlights many of his finest works, from his famous intimate interior scenes to book illustrations and poster designs, and she examines his complex relationships with iconic friends like Pierre Bonnard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Felix Vallotton, as well as with the women he loved—his mother and sister, penniless models, and rich men’s wives.
Review Quotes
Britany Salsbury, Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings, Cleveland Museum of Art
“Frey’s biographical account offers a new and intimate look at Vuillard—an artist whose work is central to the history of modern art. Centered on the private life that so characteristically defined Vuillard’s painting, the book is engaging and personal, appealing to readers who are both new to and familiar with its subject.”
Gloria Groom, Chair of European Painting and Sculpture, Art Institute of Chicago
“The title of Frey’s Venus Betrayed hints at the provocative reassessment of an artist best remembered for his small scenes of intimate domestic life, and as a bachelor who lived with his mother all her life. ‘Saint’ Vuillard is now seen as much a sinner and indeed haunted individual. Densely illustrated with Vuillard’s personal jottings and sketches to full blown paintings, this is a breakthrough in artist biography, offering bold and fascinating interpretations of recurring motifs, gestures and other symbols for Vuillard’s ongoing passions and emotional conflicts, to bolster exciting new readings of the artist and the women in his life.”
Mary Weaver Chapin, Curator of Prints and Drawings, Portland Art Museum
“Frey’s provocative portrait of Edouard Vuillard captures the paradoxical nature of the man and his oeuvre. Drawing on biographical, artistic, and photographic records, Frey refracts Vuillard’s work through multiple perspectives in seventeen intriguing essays that reveal the richness and complexity of his life and art. This profusely illustrated volume offers original perspectives that challenge the reader to see Vuillard’s work afresh.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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