Books & Literature

Book Review: I Know an Artist, by Susie Hodge

Author Susie Hodge and illustrator Sarah Papworth weave a ‘web of connections’ between some of the world’s greatest artists.

A colourful web of inspiring connections between the world’s greatest artists

In this appealing 192-page hardcover title from White Lion Publishing (an imprint of Quarto Books) author Susie Hodge and illustrator Sarah Papworth weave a ‘web of connections’ between some of the world’s greatest artists.

Tables at the front of the book list the 84 featured artists and also the names of others they have an affinity with. Hodge reveals different types of connections – some are direct while others reach across time – with information about artists’ support networks, influences and inspirations. Readers can dip in and out of the pages, exploring the subjects that interest or intrigue.

The absence of reproductions of the artists’ actual work is what makes this book unique. Instead, in pages saturated with colour, Papworth offers a portrait of the artist in question, with smaller images of the creators they’re connected to. Some sections feature names well known to most readers (think Monet, Rodin and Kahlo) while others introduce new or less familiar faces. Each section begins with an individual artist then leads to another via a connection mentioned at the end of the section; there are also links to a few others, shown using text fragments and smaller illustrations.

Many of the personal and professional relationships might be common knowledge (the association between Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh, for example) while others might be more obscure (Margaret McDonald, one of a group of designers known as the Glasgow Four, had a profound influence on Gustav Klimt). Did you know UK artist Bridget Riley – the first female artist to win the Venice Biennale’s Grand Prize for Painting – drew inspiration from the work of Paul Cezanne and Henri Matisse?

UK author Susie Hodge MA FRSA has an extensive publication history with over 100 books on art, art history, history and artistic techniques. She also appears regularly on television and radio and presents lectures on all things art-related. Sarah Papworth is a UK illustrator and designer working in book illustration, homeware and clothing design. She creates private commissions as well as work for clients including Kew Royal Botanical Gardens and Debenhams.

Delve into I Know an Artist and you’ll soon find yourself falling down a rabbit hole of creative entanglements as you navigate the links between these diverse talents and uncover the ways their interactions have changed the face of art across the ages. It’s a vibrant, satisfying read that’s guaranteed to engage a wide range of art lovers from teens to adults.

Reviewed by Jo Vabolis
Twitter: @JoVabolis

Distributed by: Murdoch Books
Released: April 2019
RRP: $39.99

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