Deaths of Artists (Hardcover)

Deaths of Artists By Jim Moske, Robert Storr (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Jim Moske, Robert Storr (Foreword by)
On Our Shelves Now
On hand as of May 29 8:10pm


Starving Artist Knifed to Death in Village Room... Famous Artist Dies Penniless and All Alone...

Deep in the archives of The Metropolitan Museum of Art are two strange scrapbooks packed with century-old newspaper obituaries of painters, illustrators, sculptors, and photographers, famous and forgotten alike. Somber death notices of luminaries like Claude Monet and Auguste Rodin are preserved on their crumbling pages, side by side with tragic and often grisly stories of obscure artists who met their demise as victims of accident, murder, poverty, and disease. Compiled from 1906 to 1929, the scrapbooks not only memorialize the subjects of these obituaries: they also record graphic and sensationalized news reporting from the heyday of yellow journalism.

Who collected the artists' obituaries? What was their purpose for the Met Museum? Were the scrapbooks assembled in a nod to Giorgio Vasari's bestselling sixteenth-century magnum opus, Lives of the Artists, with its hundreds of gossipy artist biographies? When Met Museum archivist Jim Moske chanced upon these fascinating relics forgotten in museum storage, he set out to unravel the mystery of their creation.

Delving into Met employee records, Moske discovered the story of Arthur D'Hervilly, an ex-convict and aspiring artist who was hired in 1894 as a museum guard. By the twilight of his museum career, D'Hervilly had risen to assistant curator of paintings. Occasionally, he was also called upon to serve as the Met media officer. It was apparently in this capacity that in the summer of 1906, he decided to order the National Press Intelligence clipping service to send him any and all U.S. newspaper stories about the deaths of artists. By the time he died thirteen years later, he had assembled a massive chronicle of reportage. D'Hervilly's colleagues dutifully carried on adding to the scrapbooks until 1929, leaving behind more than three hundred pages crammed with thousands of obituaries.

Deaths of Artists intertwines D'Hervilly's peculiar biography with heart-wrenching, bizarre, outlandish, and darkly comic stories of artists, both successful and abject. Moske's meticulously researched narrative is illustrated with full-page images of scrapbook pages, details of shocking obituary headlines, paintings and sculptures by the artist-subjects, and unique documents from the Met archives. The deaths of artists, seen in the light of their uncommon lives, add up to much more than just a litany of sad endings. This eerie glimpse into a dark side of art history and creative practice illuminates the unique challenges artists face, exceptional risks they take, and the cruel turns of fate that often thwart their efforts.

About the Author

Jim Moske is an archivist and writer based in New York City. He has been Managing Archivist of The Metropolitan Museum of Art since 2008 and previously was Archivist of the New York Public Library. Deaths of Artists is his first book.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780922233533
ISBN-10: 0922233535
Publisher: Blast Books
Publication Date: April 7th, 2024
Pages: 128
Language: English