Download The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing PDF

By Olivia Laing

An expertly crafted paintings of reportage, memoir and biography almost about loneliness informed during the lives of iconic artists, by way of the acclaimed writer of The journey to Echo Spring

What does it suggest to be lonely? How will we dwell, if we are not in detail engaged with one other man or woman? How can we hook up with other folks? Does expertise draw us nearer jointly or capture us in the back of screens?

When Olivia Laing moved to big apple urban in her mid-thirties, she discovered herself inhabiting loneliness each day. more and more fascinated with this such a lot shameful of reports, she started to discover the lonely urban in terms of artwork. relocating fluidly among works and lives - from Edward Hopper's Nighthawks to Andy Warhol's Time drugs, from Henry Darger's hoarding to the depredations of the AIDS predicament - Laing conducts an electrical, magnificent research into what it potential to be by myself, illuminating not just the factors of loneliness but additionally the way it can be resisted and redeemed.

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A rangy man who likes to spy on others, and who must learn to accommodate a flesh and blood woman in his life: Rear Window mimics or mirrors more than just the contents of Hopper’s art. It also reflects the contours of his emotional life, the conflict between detachment and need that was lived out in actuality as well as expressed in coloured streaks of paint on canvas, in scenes repeated over many years. In 1923, he re-encountered a woman with whom he’d studied at art school. Josephine Niveson, known as Jo, was tiny and tempestuous: a talkative, hot-tempered, sociable woman who’d been living alone in the West Village after the death of her parents, doggedly making her way as an artist, though she was crushingly short on funds.

What comes across in these mostly black and white images is a quality of intense self-containment, of someone set deep inside himself, leery of contact, emphatically reserved. He stands or sits always a little awkwardly, slightly hunched, as tall men often are, his long limbs uncomfortably arranged, dressed in dark suits and ties or three-piece tweeds, his long face sometimes sullen, sometimes guarded and sometimes showing a small glint of amusement, the deprecating wit that came and went in disarming flashes.

It’s possible – easy, even – to feel desolate and unfrequented in oneself while living cheek by jowl with others. Cities can be lonely places, and in admitting this we see that loneliness doesn’t necessarily require physical solitude, but rather an absence or paucity of connection, closeness, kinship: an inability, for one reason or another, to find as much intimacy as is desired. Unhappy, as the dictionary has it, as a result of being without the companionship of others. Hardly any wonder, then, that it can reach its apotheosis in a crowd.

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