12 Days of CanLit: Art and culture


Have you been avoiding your calendar, in denial about the shrinking number of shopping days before Christmas? The holiday season is upon us, and whether you're looking for gifts to set under a tree or around a menorah or just for some non-denominational seasonal giving (or reading!), we've got 12 days of book recommendations coming your way. With 12 different categories, we've got books for everyone from foodies to fiction addicts to sports buffs missing their beloved hockey this winter. On the ninth day of CanLit, we bring you two books that look at fine art and one that looks at dance.

Solar Dance by Modris Eksteins


Vincent van Gogh is one of the most iconic artists in the contemporary world, but he didn't achieve this renown until well after his death. Solar Dance looks at van Gogh's posthumous rise from obscurity to ubiquity, but it also challenges us to question fame, truth and certainty in art. Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Solar Dance is the definitive book on the artist we all think we know.

Listen to Modris Eksteins discuss Van Gogh on Ideas.

Ballerina: Sex, Scandal, and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection by Deirdre Kelly


The mental and physical toll of being a ballerina has become a popular subject these days with movies like Black Swan and First Position and books like Various Positions and The Cranes Dance garnering acclaim. But no one goes as deep into ballet's inner circle as Deirdre Kelly. Ballerina offers an intimate look at how the modern-day ballerina -- lithe, graceful and feminine -- evolved and how far dancers are willing to go for their art.

Deirdre Kelly spoke about the dark side of dance on Metro Morning.

Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King


Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper is one of the artist's most iconic works. But the story behind the painting -- its commission by the Duke of Sforza, his role in the deadly Italian Wars and the unlikelihood of a downtrodden da Vinci even completing the piece -- has never been told. Until now. King shares the many fascinating truths behind this work of art, in a chronicle that is intelligent, enlightening and plain fun to read. The experts agree: Leonardo and the Last Supper won the 2012 Governor General's Literary Award for non-fiction.

Ross King answers the CBC Books questionnaire.

12 Days of CanLit