The Invention of the Modern Mega-artist
Told for the first time, the extraordinary story of Bernard Buffet the most famous artist in the world you have never heard of.
It is said that asphyxiation brings on a state of hallucinatory intoxication...in which case the 71 year old artist who lay in his sprawling Provencal villa died happy. In the early afternoon of Monday 4 October 1999, wracked with Parkinson's, and unable to paint because of a fall in which he had broken his wrist, Bernard Buffet calmly placed a plastic bag over his head, taped it tight around his neck and patiently waited the few minutes it took for death to arrive.
Bernard Buffet:The Invention of the Modern Mega-artist tells the remarkable story of a French figurative painter who tasted unprecedented critical and commercial success at an age when his contemporaries were still at art school. Then, with almost equal suddenness the fruits of fame turned sour and he found himself an outcast. Scarred with the contagion of immense commercial success no leper was more untouchable. He was the first artist of the television age and the jet age and his role in creating the idea of a post-war France is not to be underestimated. As the first of the so-called Fabulous Five (Francoise Sagan, Roger Vadim, Brigitte Bardot and Yves Saint Laurent) he was a leader of the cultural revolution that seemed to forge a new France from the shattered remains of a discredited and demoralized country.
Rich in incident Buffet’s remarkable story of bisexual love affairs, betrayal, vendettas lasting half a century, shattered reputations, alcoholism, and drug abuse, is played out against the backdrop of the beau monde of the 1950s and 1960s in locations as diverse as St Tropez, Japan, Paris, Dallas, St Petersburg and New York, before coming to its miserable conclusion alone in his studio.
“splendidly unstuffy… first class”
“[a] fascinating account”
Bill Prince, Telegraph Luxury
“[a] thoroughly researched account of a life tinged with sadness, spent mostly in the studio, compulsively painting”
“Foulkes is really good at, the thing with which this book is happily stuffed, is snappy storytelling…[The] years of excess provide the book with its most entertaining stretches.”
The Sunday Times
“Whatever your opinion of the work of the prolific French expressionist Bernard Buffet, it’s not hard to be seduced by the premise of Nick Foulkes’ new biography, Bernard Buffet: The Invention of the Modern Mega-Artist.”
“Foulkes has drowned himself in the subject and done some impressive research… He always has interesting things to say…bold and stylish.”
“A timely reappraisal of Buffet’s work and a haunting account of a glittering career that ended in tragedy”
“Foulkes recounts, with skill and a sense of fun… especially good at evoking Fifties and Sixties French culture, with all the cigarette smoke, beautiful people and Paris-Match style is deserves”
“A storyteller beyond compare”
“a riveting read”
“A fascinating portrait of French cultural life in the second half of the 20th century, and of the contemporary art market, told with aplomb by Foulkes.”
“[Nicholas Foulkes] has a sure eye and ear for the nuances of hierarchy in both Euro-trash’s sumps and the art world. His book is diligently researched, elegantly written and well-paced. He does period colour and local colour with discretion and seldom dramatizes incidents”
“A compelling read”
French Property News
“Art lovers will enjoy this book, so too will those keen to gain access to a long-lost world of creative glamour”
“[a] lively biography… the book will surely go some way to reinvigorating an interest in the artist and his better work”
Country & Town House magazine
“Foulkes deserves much credit for trawling through so much French archive material and for allowing himself to become so obsessed with his subject that he could extract riveting detail and exclusive interviews… art lovers will enjoy this book, so too will those keen to gain access to a long- lost world of creative glamour”
France Today magazine
“an absorbing story”
The Catholic Herald
“A compelling and detailed study of a controversial painter.”
“Foulkes uses his unique perspective to introduce Buffet, a former darling of the rich and famous, to today’s public.”
Ravenel International Art Group