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  1. 2.5 hrs • 4/23/2015 • Unabridged

    These two unabridged chapters from Charles Mackay’s two-volume evergreen work, Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841) deal with the disastrous South Sea Bubble and the extraordinary outbreak of Tulipomania in Holland. The South Sea Company, a British joint stock company founded in 1711, was granted a monopoly to trade in Spain’s South American colonies. In return, the company took on the national debt of England. Speculation in the company’s stock led to a great economic bubble known as the South Sea Bubble in 1720, which caused financial ruin for many, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Aislabie. Mackay describes this exciting period with great relish and in considerable detail. Tulipomania was an equally bizarre and tragicomic period in Dutch history when almost the whole population began trading and speculating in tulip bulbs, leading to the financial ruin of thousands. At the height of tulip mania, in 1637, a single tulip bulb might sell for more than ten times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is often considered the first recorded economic bubble. For those interested in contemporary finance, economics or social history these incidents are sure to delight and horrify in equal measure. Also included is Mackay’s amusing chapter on the passing fashions in slang in London.

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  2. 12.8 hrs • 4/21/2015 • Unabridged

    A lively and deeply researched group biography of the figures who transformed the world of art in bohemian Paris in the first decade of the twentieth century In Montmartre is a colorful history of the birth of modernist art as it arose from one of the most astonishing collections of artistic talent ever assembled. It begins in October 1900, as a teenage Pablo Picasso, eager for fame and fortune, first makes his way up the hillside of Paris’s famous windmill-topped district. Over the next decade, among the studios, salons, cafés, dance halls, and galleries of Montmartre, the young Spaniard joins the likes of Henri Matisse, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigliani, Constantin Brancusi, Gertrude Stein, and many more, in revolutionizing artistic expression. Sue Roe has blended exceptional scholarship with graceful prose to write this remarkable group portrait of the men and women who profoundly changed the arts of painting, sculpture, dance, music, literature, and fashion. She describes the origins of movements like Fauvism, Cubism, and Futurism, and reconstructs the stories behind immortal paintings by Picasso and Matisse. Relating the colorful lives and complicated relationships of this dramatic bohemian scene, Roe illuminates the excitement of the moment when these bold experiments in artistic representation and performance began to take shape.  A thrilling account, In Montmartre captures an extraordinary group on the cusp of fame and immortality. Through their stories, Roe brings to life one of the key moments in the history of art.

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    In Montmartre

    Read by Emma Bering
    12.8 hrs • 4/21/15 • Unabridged
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  3. 7.0 hrs • 3/17/2015 • Unabridged

    The definitive story of the greatest art theft in history In a secret meeting in 1981, a master thief named Louis Royce gave career gangster Ralph Rossetti the tip of a lifetime. As a kid, Royce had visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and made a habit of sneaking in at night to find a good place to sleep. He knew the museum’s security was lax, and he gave this information to a boss of the Boston criminal underworld. It took years before the museum was hit. But when it finally happened, it quickly became one of the most infamous art heists in history: thirteen works of art valued at up to $500 million—including Rembrandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.”—were stolen. The identity of the thieves was a mystery, and the paintings were never found. What happened in those intervening years? Which Boston crew landed the big score? And why, more than twenty years later, did the FBI issue a press conference stating that they knew who had pulled off the heist and what had happened to the artwork but provided no identities and scant details? These mysteries are the story of Stephen Kurkjian’s revealing book. He takes the listener deep into the Boston mob and paints the most complete and compelling picture of this story ever told.

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    Master Thieves

    7.0 hrs • 3/17/15 • Unabridged
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  4. 13.6 hrs • 3/16/2015 • Unabridged

    “See for yourself!” was the clarion call of the 1600s. Natural philosophers threw off the yoke of ancient authority, peered at nature with microscopes and telescopes, and ignited the Scientific Revolution. Artists investigated nature with lenses and created paintings filled with realistic effects of light and shadow. The hub of this optical innovation was the small Dutch city of Delft. Here Johannes Vermeer’s experiments with lenses and a camera obscura taught him how we see under different conditions of light and helped him create the most luminous works of art ever beheld. Meanwhile, his neighbor Antoni van Leeuwenhoek’s work with microscopes revealed a previously unimagined realm of minuscule creatures. The result was a transformation in both art and science that revolutionized how we see the world today. In Eye of the Beholder, Laura J. Snyder transports us to the streets, inns, and guildhalls of seventeenth-century Holland, where artists and scientists gathered, and to their studios and laboratories, where they mixed paints and prepared canvases, ground and polished lenses, examined and dissected insects and other animals, and invented the modern notion of seeing. With charm and narrative flair, Snyder brings Vermeer and Van Leeuwenhoek—and the men and women around them—vividly to life. The story of these two geniuses and the transformation they engendered shows us why we see the world—and our place within it—as we do today.

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    Eye of the Beholder

    13.6 hrs • 3/16/15 • Unabridged
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  5. 8.3 hrs • 12/23/2014 • Unabridged

    The art market has been booming. Museum attendance is surging. More people than ever call themselves artists. Contemporary art has become a mass entertainment, a luxury good, a job description, and for some, a kind of alternative religion. In a series of beautifully paced narratives, Sarah Thornton investigates the drama of a Christie’s auction, the workings in Takashi Murakami’s studios, the elite at the Basel Art Fair, the eccentricities of Artforum magazine, the competition behind an important art prize, life in a notorious art-school seminar, and the wonderland of the Venice Biennale. She reveals the new dynamics of creativity, taste, status, money, and the search for meaning in life. A judicious and juicy account of the institutions that have the power to shape art history, based on hundreds of interviews with high-profile players, Thornton’s entertaining ethnography will change the way you look at contemporary culture.

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    Seven Days in the Art World

    8.3 hrs • 12/23/14 • Unabridged
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  6. 11.3 hrs • 11/18/2014 • Unabridged

    This compelling narrative goes behind the scenes with the world’s most important living artists to humanize and demystify contemporary art. 33 Artists in 3 Acts offers unprecedented access to a dazzling range of artists, from international superstars to unheralded art teachers. Sarah Thornton’s beautifully paced fly-on-the-wall narratives include visits with Ai Weiwei before and after his imprisonment and Jeff Koons as he woos new customers in London, Frankfurt, and Abu Dhabi. She meets Yayoi Kusama in her studio around the corner from the Tokyo asylum that she calls home, she snoops in Cindy Sherman’s closet, hears about Andrea Fraser’s psychotherapist, and spends quality time with Laurie Simmons, Carroll Dunham, and their daughters Lena and Grace. Through these intimate scenes, 33 Artists in 3 Acts explores what it means to be a real artist in the real world. Divided into three cinematic “acts”—politics, kinship, and craft—it investigates artists’ psyches, personas, politics, and social networks. Witnessing their crises and triumphs, Thornton turns a wry, analytical eye on their different answers—and non-answers—to a very important question: What is an artist?

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    33 Artists in 3 Acts

    11.3 hrs • 11/18/14 • Unabridged
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  7. 15.8 hrs • 10/7/2014 • Unabridged

    A fascinating and counterintuitive portrait of the sordid, hidden world behind the dazzling artwork of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, and more Renowned as a period of cultural rebirth and artistic innovation, the Renaissance is cloaked in a unique aura of beauty and brilliance. Its very name conjures up awe-inspiring images of an age of lofty ideals in which life imitated the fantastic artworks for which it has become famous. But behind the vast explosion of new art and culture lurked a seamy, vicious world of power politics, perversity, and corruption that has more in common with the present day than anyone dares to admit. In this lively and meticulously researched portrait, Renaissance scholar Alexander Lee illuminates the dark and titillating contradictions that were hidden beneath the surface of the period’s best-known artworks. Rife with tales of scheming bankers, greedy politicians, sex-crazed priests, bloody rivalries, vicious intolerance, rampant disease, and lives of extravagance and excess, this gripping exploration of the underbelly of Renaissance Italy shows that, far from being the product of high-minded ideals, the sublime monuments of the Renaissance were created by flawed and tormented artists who lived in an ever-expanding world of inequality, dark sexuality, bigotry, and hatred. The Ugly Renaissance is a delightfully debauched journey through the surprising contradictions of Italy’s past and shows that were it not for the profusion of depravity and degradation, history’s greatest masterpieces might never have come into being.

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    The Ugly Renaissance

    15.8 hrs • 10/7/14 • Unabridged
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  8. 8.1 hrs • 10/7/2014 • Unabridged

    Bestselling author Leonard Shlain explores the life, art, and mind of Leonardo Da Vinci, seeking to explain his singularity by looking at his achievements in art, science, psychology, and military strategy, and then employing state-of-the-art left-right brain scientific research to explain his universal genius. Shlain shows that no other person in human history has excelled in so many different areas as Da Vinci and he peels back the layers to explore the how and the why. Shlain asserts that Leonardo’s genius came from a unique creative ability that allowed him to understand and excel in a wide range of fields. From here Shlain jumps off and discusses the history of and current research on human creativity that involves different modes of thinking and neuroscience. The author also boldly speculates on whether or not the qualities of Leonardo’s brain and his creativity presage the future evolution of the human species. Leonardo’s Brain uses Da Vinci as a starting point for an exploration of human creativity. With his lucid style, and his remarkable ability to discern connections in a wide range of fields, Shlain brings the reader into the world of history’s greatest mind.

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    Leonardo’s Brain

    8.1 hrs • 10/7/14 • Unabridged
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  9. 6.2 hrs • 9/16/2014 • Unabridged

    A singular man in the history of modern art, betrayed by Vichy, is the subject of this riveting family memoir. On September 20, 1940, one of the most famous European art dealers disembarked to New York— one of hundreds of Jewish refugees fleeing Vichy, France. Leaving behind his beloved Paris gallery, Paul Rosenberg had managed to save his family. But his paintings—modern masterpieces by Cézanne, Monet, Sisley, and others—were not so fortunate. As he fled, dozens of works were seized by Nazi forces, and the art dealer’s own legacy was eradicated. More than half a century later, Anne Sinclair uncovered a box filled with letters. Drawing on her grandfather’s intimate correspondence with Picasso, Matisse, Braque, and others, Sinclair takes us on a personal journey through the life of a legendary member of the Parisian art scene in My Grandfather’s Gallery. Rosenberg’s story is emblematic of millions of Jews, rich and poor, whose lives were indelibly altered by World War II. Sinclair’s journey to reclaim her family history paints a picture of modern art on both sides of the Atlantic between the 1920s and 1950s that reframes twentieth-century art history.

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    My Grandfather’s Gallery

    Translated by Shaun Whiteside
    Read by Kate Reading
    6.2 hrs • 9/16/14 • Unabridged
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  10. 1 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5 (1)
    9.5 hrs • 9/9/2014 • Unabridged

    The unbelievable true story of artist Thomas Kinkade, self-described “Painter of Light,” and the dramatic rise—and fall—of his billion-dollar gallery and licensing business He was just one man, but Thomas Kinkade ultimately made more money from his art than every other artist in the history of the world combined. His sentimental paintings of babbling brooks, rural churches surrounded by brilliant fall foliage, and idyllic countryside cottages were so popular in the 1990s that it is estimated that one out of every twenty homes in America owned one of his prints. With the help of two partners—a former vacuum-cleaner salesman and an ambitious junior accountant who fancied himself a businessman—Kinkade turned his art into a billion-dollar gallery and licensing business that traded on the New York Stock Exchange before it collapsed in 2006 amid fraud accusations. One part fascinating business story about the rise and demise of a financial empire born out of divine inspiration, one part dramatic biography, Billion Dollar Painter is the account of three nobodies who made it big. One was a man who, despite being a devout Christian who believed his artwork was a spiritual force that could cure the sick and comfort the poor in spirit, could not save his art empire—or himself. G. Eric Kuskey, former colleague of Thomas Kinkade and close friend until the artist’s death in 2012, tells Kinkade’s story for the first time, from his art’s humble beginnings on a sidewalk in Carmel, California, to his five-house compound in Monte Sereno. It’s a tale of addiction and grief, of losing control, and ultimately, of the price of our dreams.

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    Billion Dollar Painter by G. Eric Kuskey

    Billion Dollar Painter

    By G. Eric Kuskey, with Bettina Gilois
    Read by Jim Meskimen
    9.5 hrs • 9/9/14 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5 (1)
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  11. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    6.6 hrs • 7/29/2014 • Unabridged

    An eye-opening adventure deep inside the everyday materials that surround us, packed with surprising stories and fascinating science Why is glass see-through? What makes elastic stretchy? Why does a paper clip bend? Why does any material look and behave the way it does? These are the sorts of questions that Mark Miodownik is constantly asking himself. A globally-renowned materials scientist, Miodownik has spent his life exploring objects as ordinary as an envelope and as unexpected as concrete cloth, uncovering the fascinating secrets that hold together our physical world. In Stuff Matters, Miodownik entertainingly examines the materials he encounters in a typical morning, from the steel in his razor and the graphite in his pencil to the foam in his sneakers and the concrete in a nearby skyscraper. He offers a compendium of the most astounding histories and marvelous scientific breakthroughs in the material world, including the imprisoned alchemist who saved himself from execution by creating the first European porcelain;the hidden gem of the Milky Way, a planet five times the size of Earth, made entirely of diamond; andgraphene, the thinnest, strongest, stiffest material in existence—only a single atom thick—that could be used to make entire buildings sensitive to touch. From the teacup to the jet engine, the silicon chip to the paper clip, the plastic in our appliances to the elastic in our underpants, our lives are overflowing with materials. Full of enthralling tales of the miracles of engineering that permeate our lives, Stuff Matters will make you see stuff in a whole new way.

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    Stuff Matters

    6.6 hrs • 7/29/14 • Unabridged
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  12. 12.8 hrs • 10/29/2013 • Unabridged

    From the inimitable and bestselling author Thomas Cahill comes another popular history, focusing on the Renaissance and Reformation and how this innovative period changed the Western world. In volume six of his acclaimed Hinges of History series, Thomas Cahill guides us through the thrilling period of Renaissance and Reformation (late fourteenth to early seventeenth centuries), so full of innovation and cultural change that the Western world would not experience its like again until the twentieth century. Beginning with the continent-wide disaster of the Black Plague, Cahill traces the many innovations in European thought and experience that served both the new humanism of the Renaissance and the seemingly abrupt religious alterations of the increasingly radical Reformation. This is an age of the most sublime artistic and scientific adventure but also of newly powerful princes and armies and of newly found courage, as many thousands refuse to bow their heads to the religious pieties of the past. It is an era of newly discovered continents and previously unknown peoples. More than anything, it is a time of individuality in which a whole culture must achieve a new balance, if the West is to continue.

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  13. 10.8 hrs • 12/24/2012 • Unabridged

    The Lady in Gold, considered an unforgettable masterpiece, one of the twentieth century’s most recognizable paintings, made headlines all over the world when Ronald Lauder bought it for $135 million a century after Klimt, the most famous Austrian painter of his time, completed the society portrait. Anne-Marie O’Connor, writer for the Washington Post, formerly of the Los Angeles Times, tells the galvanizing story of The Lady in Gold, Adele Bloch-Bauer, a dazzling Viennese Jewish society figure; daughter of the head of one of the largest banks in the Hapsburg Empire, head of the Oriental Railway, whose Orient Express went from Berlin to Constantinople; wife of Ferdinand Bauer, sugar-beet baron. The Bloch-Bauers were art patrons, and Adele herself was considered a rebel of fin de siècle Vienna (she wanted to be educated, a notion considered “degenerate” in a society that believed women being out in the world went against their “feminine nature”). The author describes how Adele inspired the portrait and how Klimt made more than a hundred sketches of her—simple pencil drawings on thin manila paper. And O’Connor writes of Klimt himself, son of a failed gold engraver, shunned by arts bureaucrats, called an artistic heretic in his time, a genius in ours. She writes of the Nazis confiscating the portrait of Adele from the Bloch-Bauers’ grand palais; of the Austrian government putting the painting on display, stripping Adele’s Jewish surname from it so that no clues to her identity (nor any hint of her Jewish origins) would be revealed. Nazi officials called the painting “the Lady in Gold” and proudly exhibited it in Vienna’s Baroque Belvedere Palace, consecrated in the 1930s as a Nazi institution. The author writes of the painting, inspired by the Byzantine mosaics Klimt had studied in Italy, with their exotic symbols and swirls, the subject an idol in a golden shrine. We see how, sixty years after it was stolen by the Nazis, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer became the subject of a decade-long litigation between the Austrian government and the Bloch-Bauer heirs, how and why the US Supreme Court became involved in the case, and how the Court’s decision had profound ramifications in the art world. In this book listeners will find riveting social history, an illuminating and haunting look at turn-of-the-century Vienna, a brilliant portrait of the evolution of a painter, a masterfully told tale of suspense. And at the heart of it, The Lady in Gold—the shimmering painting, and its equally irresistible subject, the fate of each forever intertwined.

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    The Lady in Gold

    10.8 hrs • 12/24/12 • Unabridged
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  14. 0.7 hrs • 11/8/2012 • Unabridged

    What is modern art? Why do we either love it or loathe it? And why is it worth so much damn money? Join Will Gompertz, the BBC arts editor, and probably the world’s first art-history stand-up comedian, on a dazzling audio tour that will change the way you think about modern art forever.  In the tenth of this twenty-part course, discover how, for all the importance of the Russian Revolution, it was their artists who actually changed the world and came up with the cool abstraction which we still enjoy today. And if you want to examine the images in question, just follow the links mentioned in the audio.  Suprematism, Constructivism is part of a downloadable audiobook series taken from the book What Are You Looking At?: 150 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye. You can take the whole course, or pick and choose which movement suits you. Whether you are a sceptic or an art lover, this funny, lively, and accessible course on modern art is bound to make your next gallery or museum visit a little less intimidating and a lot more interesting.

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  15. 0.5 hrs • 11/1/2012 • Unabridged

    What is modern art? Why do we either love it or loathe it? And why is it worth so much damn money? Join Will Gompertz, the BBC arts editor, and probably the world’s first art-history stand-up comedian, on a dazzling audio tour that will change the way you think about modern art forever.  In the ninth of this twenty-part course, take the first step on the long road towards total abstraction, as artists of all kinds attempted to unify their visions into a blueprint for a better world. And if you want to examine the images in question, just follow the links mentioned in the audio.  Kandinsky, Orphism, Blue Rider is part of a downloadable audiobook series taken from the book What Are You Looking At?: 150 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye. You can take the whole course or pick and choose which movement suits you. Whether you are a sceptic or an art lover, this funny, lively, and accessible course on modern art is bound to make your next gallery or museum visit a little less intimidating and a lot more interesting.

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  16. 0.4 hrs • 10/25/2012 • Unabridged

    What is modern art? Why do we either love it or loathe it? And why is it worth so much damn money? Join Will Gompertz, the BBC arts editor, and probably the world’s first art-history stand-up comedian, on a dazzling audio tour that will change the way you think about modern art forever.  In the eighth of this twenty-part course, the West is in ferment and turmoil as the Great War approaches. Artistic movements of the time reflected both the terror and hope of a world in flux. And if you want to examine the images in question, just follow the links mentioned in the audio.  Futurism is part of a downloadable audiobook series taken from the book What Are You Looking At?: 150 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye. You can take the whole course or pick and choose which movement suits you. Whether you are a sceptic or an art lover, this funny, lively, and accessible course on modern art is bound to make your next gallery or museum visit a little less intimidating and a lot more interesting.

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