In The Art of Life, author Traci L. Slatton has written a beautiful book about figurative sculpture, with her husband, Sabin Howard's work prominently displayed throughout. She begins with a personal story of how she and her husband each became enamored with this form of art. Then she reviews the history of figurative sculpture with many diverse examples from the Balikligol Man from Turkey, which is more than 13,000 years old, to Rodin's Striding Man.
The remainder of the book focuses on Sabin Howard. She offers a sort of biography of his education and growth as an artist, and chronicles his major works of art, including a complete look at the process of creating these clay-to-bronze figures. I found this to be quite fascinating. The book is filled with beautiful photographs of artwork, but the most interesting pictures in my opinion were the ones that showed this extensive process. Also quite interesting were the many sketches that were included in the last section of the book, showing how Howard goes from a drawing on paper to a complete figurative sculpture.
While Sabin Howard's name is listed as an author of the book, it is written from his wife's perspective throughout, so I would characterize it more as a cross between a nonfiction book about art and a biography of Howard's life as an artist. I found Slatton's writing style to be very approachable. I enjoyed the way she described the different sculptures, the things to look for and the detail that goes into creating a realistic figure ~ from proportions to facial expressions to rotation and balance. She succeeded in educating me about the topic without being too dry or academic.
The only issue I had was the obvious bias Slatton shows toward her own husband's work. It's certainly not an objective book, but I suppose that's to be expected. Overall, I am very happy that I read The Art of Life. I learned a lot about figurative sculpture and look forward to going to an art museum soon so I can put my new knowledge to the test! The North Carolina Museum of Art actually has an extensive Rodin collection that I am excited to explore with a new perspective.
My Rating: 3.5/5
For more information about Sabin Howard's sculpture, visit the artist's website
View some of the pages from the book
This review was written based on an ebook copy of The Art of Life that I received from the author in exchange for an honest review.