13 July 1903 – 21 May 1983. England
Kenneth Clark Life, Art and Civilization by James Stourton is an elegant biography of Kenneth Clark. Clark was director of The National Gallery of the Arts at 29. His biggest contribution was his 13 part TV series Civilization (it is all on You Tube)) he produced for the BBC in 1969 which is generally credited with showing how culture could be presented in an interesting way on television.
I loved the first quote from Clark when he said his patents were "idol rich" and he said "there were many people richer than his parents but none more idol".
Clark dominated the art world for almost fifty years. He controlled what the major museums of England purchased and which living srtists were favored.
During World War Two he supervised the removal of almost all the works from the national museum, storing them in an abandoned mine in Wales. During the war he work d for the Ministry of Information. His primary responsibility was to recruit artists to make posters to raise morale. He helped many artists stay out of combat.
Clsrk is as a noted art historian and author of several highly regarded works. He was greatly in demand as a lecturer. During the war in order to keep spirits up in London he organized classical music events and lecturers the museum. He became convinced of the importance of bringing the arts, without condescension, to as many people as he could. He saw it as a way of fighting the barbarism threating to destroy European civilization. Clark was more into art and architecture than literature. He was a bibliophile and accumulated a wonderful collection.
We learn a lot about his marriage, his parenthood, his numerous girl friends. There is a lot of detail on the art community and the business of art in the book which i found fascinating. We learn about Clsrk's numerous homes and activities.
Kenneth Clark Life, Art, and Civilization is a very well researched and beautifully narrated work.
JAMES STOURTON, the former chairman of Sotheby’s U.K., is the author of many books, including Great Houses of London and Great Collectors of Our Time. A lecturer on history, he is also a senior fellow of the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London.