Curtis, Gregory 1944-

views updated

Curtis, Gregory 1944-

(Gregory Benson Curtis)

PERSONAL: Born December 5, 1944, in Corpus Christi, TX; son William Hall and Vivian Dorene Curtis; married Tracy Lynn Lewis, September 27, 1975; children: three daughters and a son, including Vivian Reed and Gregory. Education: Rice University, B.A., 1966; San Francisco State College, M.A., 1968. Hobbies and other interests: Horse riding, racquetball, book collecting, record collecting, and magic.

ADDRESSES: Home— Austin, TX. E-mail— [email protected]

CAREER: Writer and editor. Ran printing and publishing company, San Francisco, CA, 1967-72;Texas Monthly, staff writer/senior editor, 1972-81, editor, 1981-2000; joined Time Inc., as editor-at-large, 2001.

MEMBER: American Association of Magazine Editors (executive committee), Headliners (Austin, TX).

WRITINGS

Disarmed: The Story of the Venus de Milo, Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.

The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World’s First Artists, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and Time.

SIDELIGHTS: Gregory Curtis spent nearly three decades at Texas Monthly magazine as a writer and then as its editor before leaving in 2000. In his first book, Disarmed: The Story of the Venus de Milo, Curtis tells the story of the famous armless statue discovered on the island of Melos in 1820 by a French naval officer and a local farmer. In addition to writing about how the French acquired the statue for the Louvre and the origins of a fallacious story that the statue lost its arms during a battle over it between French and Turkish soldiers on a Melos beach, the author delves into the questions surrounding the statue’s origins and profiles the many museum officials and art historians who have debated the statue’s history. He also presents his own hypothesis of what the complete statue may have looked like and what it represented. In a frequently-asked-questions segment on the author’s home page, Curtis explains that he decided to write about the statue for several reasons, including his admiration for the piece of art, the debate surrounding its creator, and the fact that no author has explored the subject for a general audience.

In a review of Disarmed in Publishers Weekly, a contributor noted the author’s “sense of a good anecdote” and referred to the book as “judicious.” A Kirkus Reviews contributor called Disarmed“a brisk and brilliant trot through the history of one of the world’s most famous pieces of sculpture.” The reviewer also referred to it as “lush, learned, and surpassingly entertaining.”

In his next book, The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World’s First Artists, Curtis discusses the 30, 000-year-old colored paintings that have been found in caves in France. He delves into their possible origins and describes the world that the artists lived in during the end of the Neanderthal era. He also probes the heated debates concerning the various theories surrounding the paintings, such as their possible creation as part of shamanistic practices and why certain animals were drawn while others that were known to exist at the time were not. “For readers who may never visit the caves, Curtis’s sensitive narration gives a chance to share that encounter with mystery,” wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. William Alfred Kern, writing on the PopMatters Web site, noted that the author “brings us somewhat up to date on the scope of materials discovered and gives some tentative conclusions that reflect a consensus.” Kern added: “He leaves no doubt, however, that this is merely an interim report on an area of inquiry, which may never be concluded.”

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES

PERIODICALS

Folio’s Publishing News, November 15, 1992, Todd Brewster, “Why Is Texas Monthly the Country’s Best Regional? In Two Words: Gregory Curtis,” p. 32.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2003, review of Disarmed: The Story of the Venus de Milo, p. 1055.

Mediaweek, July 3, 2000, Anne Torpey-Kemph, “Curtis to Roam over Time Inc. Titles,” p. 26.

Publishers Weekly, August 25, 2003, review of Disarmed, p. 49; July 24, 2006, review of The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World’s First Artists, p. 49.

ONLINE

Gregory Curtis Home Page, http://www.gregorycurtis.com (January 17, 2007).

PopMatters, http://www.popmatters.com/. (January 17, 2007), William Alfred Kern, review of The Cave Painters.*