Among the women artists who came to prominence in the postwar era in New York, painter Nell Blaine had a uniquely hard-won career. In her mid-thirties, her horizons seemed limitless. Her shows received glowing reviews, ARTnews honored her with a lengthy feature article, and one of her paintings hung in the Whitney Museum. Then, on a trip to Greece, Blaine developed polio, rendering her a paraplegic. Angry at being told she would never paint again, she taught herself to hold a brush with her left hand and regained her skill. In Alive Still, author Cathy Curtis tells the story of Blaine's life and career for the first time by investigating the ways her experience of illness colored her personality and the evolving nature of her work, the importance of her Southern roots, and the influence of her bisexuality (and, in the latter part of her life, long term lesbian relationships) on her understanding of the world. Alive Still draws upon Blaine's unpublished diaries; her published writing; career-spanning interviews and reviews; and correspondence to and from family members, lovers, and the artists, poets, publishers, rescuers in Greece, and neighbors she knew. In addition, Curtis has conducted interviews with surviving artists and other individuals in Blaine's circle, including two of her longtime lovers. Featuring illustrations of Blaine's work and snapshots of family and friends, Alive Still is a compelling narrative of a leading, productive, and passionate woman artist who overcame the setbacks of disability.
Cathy Curtis is the author of two previous biographies, Restless Ambition: Grace Hartigan, Painter, and A Generous Vision: The Creative Life of Elaine de Kooning. An alumna of Smith College and the University of California, Berkeley, she was formerly a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times. In 2018, Curtis was elected to a two-year term as president of Biographers International Organization
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