In Passionate Pursuit
by Alessandra Comini
July 15, 2004
Hardcover, 224 pages
9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
$22.50 (Can $25.50)
Overflowing with passion for her work as a scholar and teacher, Alessandra Comini reminisces and romps through six decades as an unconventional art historian in this illustrated memoir. The author of award-winning books on Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, and Ludwig van Beethoven, Comini draws on her lifelong daily journals and shares personal research-related anecdotes as she reflects on the formation and flowering of her distinguished career. Beginning with her colorful background as a refugee from Franco's Spain, then Mussolini's Italy, she describes her music-loving family's sometimes humorous, sometimes painful adjustment to a World War II Texas. A series of fortuitous experiences at Interlochen's National Music camp; Barnard College; the University of California, Berkeley; and Columbia University later leads to what would ultimately be a turning point both in her life as well as in Schiele scholarship: the discovery, half a century after Schiele's incarceration in a provincial Austrian jail, of the actual cell in which he had been imprisoned.
Comini invites readers to join her in the same zestful and persistent pursuit of cultural history that has repeatedly earned her the honor of being voted "outstanding professor," first by her students at Columbia University in the 1960s and 1970s, then later at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Her research and quests take the reader around the world and back. From the islands of Corfu, Madeira, Rügen, and Tahiti, and from the cities of Lisbon, Rome, Oslo, and St. Petersburg, Comini pursues such diverse and distinctive personalities as Rosa Bonheur, Eleonora Duse, Gustav Mahler, Edvard Munch, Käthe Kollwitz, Pablo Picasso, Vaslav Nijinsky, and Egon Schiele.
For those who wonder what academics do besides teach and publish, Alessandra Comini's memoir will inspire readers with its sincere and compelling account of an extraordinary life and career still passionately in progress.
Alessandra Comini, University Distinguished Professor of Art History at Southern Methodist University, is the author of seven books on European culture, art, and musical iconography, including Gustav Klimt and The Changing Image of Beethoven: A Study in Mythmaking. Her Egon Schiele's Portraits, which was nominated for a National Book Award. In recognition of her contributions to Germanic culture, the Republic of Austria awarded her its Grand Decoration of Honor in 1990.