Claridge, Laura P.
CLARIDGE, Laura P.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House, 299 Park Ave., New York, NY 10171-0002.
CAREER: Writer. Former professor of English, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD.
(Editor, with Elizabeth Langland) Out of Bounds: MaleWriters and Gender, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 1990.
Romantic Potency: The Paradox of Desire, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1992.
Tamara de Lempicka: A Life of Deco and Decadence, C. Potter (New York, NY), 1999.
Norman Rockwell: A Life, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Laura P. Claridge has written two biographies of twentieth-century artists, Tamara de Lempicka: A Life of Deco and Decadence and Norman Rockwell: A Life. In both cases Claridge offers a chronicle of the artists' lives and a critical appraisal of their body of work, showing how personal incidents can factor into artistic creations. Tamara de Lempicka was a Russian-born painter with aristocratic ties who used her artwork to finance a peripatetic lifestyle that included stays in Paris and Hollywood. Library Journal correspondent Mary Hamel-Schwulst found Tamara de Lempicka to be "meticulously researched" and an "excellent academic study of an independent woman artist." A Publishers Weekly reviewer likewise praised the book as an "engrossing account of the bawdy and amusing painter" who is "fashionable again among contemporary collectors."
Norman Rockwell ranks among the best-known American painters of the twentieth century, but because his work was created for commercial appeal, he has not been given the critical appraisal he perhaps deserves. Claridge seeks to rectify that omission in Normal Rockwell: A Life. In addition to providing a detailed chronology of Rockwell's life, from his ancestry to his death, she also treats his paintings—individually and collectively—as serious modernist contributions to the American canon. According to Steve Weinberg in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Claridge "never loses sight of Rockwell the artist" while revealing the sometimes harrowing details of his private life. Weinberg concluded: "This biography might or might not help Rockwell achieve his place in the pantheon of serious artists. It is certain, however, to shatter lots of stereotypes, for better or worse." Library Journal correspondent Kraig Binkowski felt that the "penetrating and eye-opening" book would offer "some perspective on this popular artist's entire life." In Washington Monthly, Christina Larson declared: "If you thought that the great romanticizer of small-town America didn't fit the tortured-creative mold, Laura Claridge's new biography . . . will change your mind." Terry Teachout in Book commended Norman Rockwell as "a solid piece of storytelling, full of facts and written in plain English. . . . Moreover, the story turns out to be quite unexpectedly involving, for the poet laureate of the old swimming hole turns out, like most artists, to have led an excruciatingly painful life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book, September, 2001, Terry Teachout, "Norman Rockwell," p. 71.
Booklist, October 15, 1999, Donna Seaman, review of Tamara de Lempicka: A Life of Deco and Decadence, p. 406; October 1, 2001, Donna Seaman, review of Norman Rockwell: A Life, p. 267.
Choice, June, 1991, L. Winters, review of Out ofBounds: Male Writers and Gender, p. 1641.
Economist (U.S.), November 3, 2001, "Painting for Numbers: Art Illustrators."
Independent Sunday (London, England), March 26, 2000, Fiona Pitt-Kethley, "Portrait of a Far-from-Still Life," p. 49.
Journal of Women in Culture and Society, January 13, 1993, Lesley Ferris, "Absent Bodies, Dancing Bodies, Broken Dishes: Feminist Theory, Post-modernism, and the Performing Arts," pp. 162-172.
Library Journal, October 1, 1999, Mary Hamel-Schwulst, review of Tamara de Lempicka, p. 84; November 1, 2001, Kraig Binkowski, review of Norman Rockwell, p. 86.
Modern Language Review, July, 1994, Catherine Maxwell, review of Romantic Potency: The Paradox of Desire, pp. 734-735.
New York Times Book Review, October 24, 1999, Glyn Vincent, "Glitter Art: The Life of a Deco Painter Was As Sybaritic As Her Subjects," p. 24.
Nineteenth Century Literature, September, 1994, Leslie Brisman, review of Romantic Potency, pp. 249-256.
Publishers Weekly, September 27, 1999, review of Tamara de Lempicka, p. 86; January 17, 2000, John F. Baker, "The Less-Than-Sunny Mr. Rockwell," p. 12; August 27, 2001, review of Norman Rockwell, p. 66.
Rocky Mountain Review, number 4, 1993, Dale Boyer, review of Romantic Potency, pp. 250-252.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 18, 2001, Steve Weinberg, "Biography Lifts Rockwell into the Realm of Serious Painters," p. G10.
Washington Monthly, October, 2001, Christina Larson, review of Norman Rockwell, p. 51.*