British independent publishing house SelfMade Hero has been having some serious fun in the graphic novel genre. Manga adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, for instance. Or, the graphic telling of Freud’s most famous case studies. And then, the magnificently ambitious graphic biographies of art masters, from Vincent van Gogh to Pablo Picasso to Edvard Munch and the newly released book on Salvador Dali. Another on Paul Gauguin has been scheduled for March 2017.
What pressure the graphic artists must have faced to visually depict the life stories of artists, each of whom have distinctive, and instantly recognizable, styles of painting. And such a feat these books are for that very reason—the drawings are at once identifiable with the particular artist while retaining their originality. In Barbara Stok’s Vincent (2014), Gogh’s paintings and the vibrancy of his colours are often referenced, illuminating even the panels depicting his descent into depression. And the spectacularly drawn Dali by Baudoin, which was published last month, has as much of the eccentricity, humour and monumental imagination of the artist himself. What a treat to dive into the (life and) works of two artists at the same time.