‘Painfully honest on what it means to be a woman who puts art first, no matter what’ Olivia Laing
I’m not a portrait painter. If I’m anything, I have always been an autobiographer.
In Self-Portrait, Celia Paul reveals a life truly lived through art. She moves effortlessly through time, in words and images, from her arrival at the Slade School of Fine Art at sixteen, through a profound and intense affair with the older and better-known artist Lucian Freud, to the practices of her present-day studio. This intimate memoir is, at its heart, about a young woman navigating the path to artistic freedom, with all the sacrifices and complications that entails.
‘Powerful’ Zadie Smith
‘Captivating… Mesmerising’ New York Times
**Shortlisted for the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize **
Captivating... Mesmerizing... Paul's powers of observation are keen and often ruthless. -- Jennifer Szalai * New York Times * A poetic, sometimes painfully honest memoir. -- Tim Adams * Observer * I loved the painter Celia Paul's memoir Self-Portrait. It's fascinating for its account of her long-term lover Lucian Freud (he emerges as the ultimate man-baby, by turns charismatic, needy and breathtakingly selfish), but it's also painfully honest on what it means to be a woman who puts art first, no matter what. -- Olivia Laing * New Statesman * The publication of this, her first book, is of great significance... Having recently returned to writing again, she has found a new confidence, in words, in herself and in her painting... No longer wanting to remain simply a part of Freud's story, she wanted to make him part of her story, a narrative about her life as a painter. ... Paul's memoir therefore seems fresh, and comes as a surprise. -- Frances Spalding * Guardian, *Book of the Week* * A story of obsession and manipulation that sends our feelings on a rollercoaster... [Self-Portrait] turns into a sort of myth about the misuse of fame and the male ego, about the struggles faced by creative women, about the body in all its guises. Like a myth, it unfolds with confusions and contradictions, a terrible inevitability and many, many discomfiting truths. -- Jan Dalley * Financial Times *
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