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Walter Spies: A Life in Art

Hardcover - 15 May 2012
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When he died 70 years ago, the artist Walter Spies was known to only a few close friends. Now he is prized as one of the finest painters of the tropical landscape. This was one of many gifts that he made available to the people of Bali in the years between 1927, when he first settled there, and 1940 when he was interned as an enemy alien. In the turmoil of war and the turbulence of the post-war years, his fate remained for a time unknown and his life and deeds in Bali gradually took on mythic proportions. He was remembered almost as a founding figure, one who had taken the arts of Bali to unprecedented heights. There was some truth in this hyperbole; he had indeed made a massive contribution to the reputation of the island as a centre of special artistic excellence during the 1930s. He was not alone in this endeavour. Together with the Dutch painter Rudolf Bonnet & Cokorda Gede Agung Sukawati he gave the initial impetus to the flowering of the visual arts in Ubud and district. His films & recordings brought his friends the Mexican painter Miguel Covarrubias & the Canadian composer Colin McPhee to Bali. The Covarrubias cultural guidebook, The Island of Bali, has accompanied generations of tourist visitors for the past seventy years, while McPhee joined Spies in stimulating growth of musical culture in the Regency of Gianyar and furthered it in the West with his own compositions. The reputation of Ubud as a hub of cultural tourism continues to the present day. Its status is accepted by the Indonesian Government for its contribution to the island economy. This 344-page book, which at 24x32cm (portrait), present a fully-documented biography in an 80,000-word text. It places the works & related documents in chronological order & supplies a catalogue of all the known works and an analytical index. The biography traces the remarkable life of an exceptional individual whose career touched at many points the challenging issues of the first half of the 20th century.

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