Author(s): Nicholas Foulkes
It is said that asphyxiation brings on a state of hallucinatory intoxication...in which case the 71 year old artist who lay in his sprawling Provencal villa died happy. In the early afternoon of Monday 4 October 1999, wracked with Parkinson's, and unable to paint because of a fall in which he had broken his wrist, Bernard Buffet calmly placed a plastic bag over his head, taped it tight around his neck and patiently waited the few minutes it took for death to arrive. Bernard Buffet: The Invention of the Modern Mega-artist tells the remarkable story of a French figurative painter who tasted unprecedented critical and commercial success at an age when his contemporaries were still at art school. Then, with almost equal suddenness the fruits of fame turned sour and he found himself an outcast. Scarred with the contagion of immense commercial success no leper was more untouchable. He was the first artist of the television age and the jet age and his role in creating the idea of a post-war France is not to be underestimated. As the first of the so-called Fabulous Five (Francoise Sagan, Roger Vadim, Brigitte Bardot and Yves Saint Laurent) he was a leader of the cultural revolution that seemed to forge a new France from the shattered remains of a discredited and demoralized country. Rich in incident Buffet's remarkable story of bisexual love affairs, betrayal, vendettas lasting half a century, shattered reputations, alcoholism, and drug abuse, is played out against the backdrop of the beau monde of the 1950s and 1960s in locations as diverse as St Tropez, Japan, Paris, Dallas, St Petersburg and New York, before coming to its miserable conclusion alone in his studio.
"splendidly unstuffy... first class" The Times "[a] fascinating account" -- Bill Prince Telegraph Luxury "[a] thoroughly researched account of a life tinged with sadness, spent mostly in the studio, compulsively painting" The Independent "Foulkes is really good at, the thing with which this book is happily stuffed, is snappy storytelling...[The] years of excess provide the book with its most entertaining stretches." The Sunday Times "Whatever your opinion of the work of the prolific French expressionist Bernard Buffet, it's not hard to be seduced by the premise of Nick Foulkes' new biography, Bernard Buffet: The Invention of the Modern Mega-Artist." Wallpaper* "Foulkes has drowned himself in the subject and done some impressive research... He always has interesting things to say...bold and stylish." The Spectator "Riveting" Daily Mail "Foulkes recounts, with skill and a sense of fun... especially good at evoking Fifties and Sixties French culture, with all the cigarette smoke, beautiful people and Paris-Match style is deserves" Esquire "A storyteller beyond compare" The Rake "a riveting read" Metropolitan (Eurostar) "A fascinating portrait of French cultural life in the second half of the 20th century, and of the contemporary art market, told with aplomb by Foulkes." Sunday Express "[Nicholas Foulkes] has a sure eye and ear for the nuances of hierarchy in both Euro-trash's sumps and the art world. His book is diligently researched, elegantly written and well-paced. He does period colour and local colour with discretion and seldom dramatizes incidents" Country Life "A compelling read" French Property News "Art lovers will enjoy this book, so too will those keen to gain access to a long-lost world of creative glamour" French Entree "[a] lively biography... the book will surely go some way to reinvigorating an interest in the artist and his better work" Country & Town House magazine "Foulkes deserves much credit for trawling through so much French archive material and for allowing himself to become so obsessed with his subject that he could extract riveting detail and exclusive interviews... art lovers will enjoy this book, so too will those keen to gain access to a long- lost world of creative glamour" France Today magazine "an absorbing story" The Catholic Herald "A compelling and detailed study of a controversial painter." France Magazine "Riveting" Porter "Foulkes uses his unique perspective to introduce Buffet, a former darling of the rich and famous, to today's public." Ravenel International Art Group
Nicholas Foulkes is the author of around 20 books on subjects as diverse as James Bond, cigars and the trenchcoat. He is best known for his critically acclaimed trilogy of 19th century histories: Scandalous Society, (a biography of Count d'Orsay); Dancing Into Battle, A Social History of the Battle of Waterloo; and Gentlemen and Blackguards, Gambling Mania and the plot to steal the Derby of 1844. His most recent books include, 'Bals: Legendary Costume Balls of the Twentieth Century' and 'Swans, Legends of the Jet Society'. His books have been published by Little, Brown & Company, Weidenfield and Nicolson, Assouline, Random House and Thomas Dunne Books. He contributes to a wide range of newspapers and magazines around the world. He is a columnist for Country Life; a contributing editor to The FT's How To Spend It Magazine, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair; and luxury editor of British GQ. He launched and continues to edit Vanity Fair's twice yearly watch magazine On Time. He launched and continues to edit Vanity Fair on Art. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Finch's Quarterly Review. In 2007 he was named Havana Man of the Year by the Cuban government, having been nominated for this award on four previous occasions. In 2009 he was appointed to the board of the Norman Mailer Centre. He is a graduate of Hertford College Oxford and lives in London with his wife and two sons.