Once a prominent painter, Danzig now shares his wisdom and technique with students at San Francisco’s Art Institute—yet his own canvases remain empty. When he meets Israeli-born Merav, the beautiful new model for his class, he senses she may reignite his artistic passion. Merav moved to California to escape the danger and violence of the Middle East, yet she cannot outrun her fears about the past. As the characters challenge one another, Rosner lyrically uncovers their disparate upbringings, their creative awakenings, and their similarly painful, often catastrophic, love lives to propel them toward reconciliation, redemption, and ultimately revival.
A German painter and an Israeli model connect in Rosner's heartfelt but melodramatic second novel. Danzig, a 58-year-old painter who was once an up-and-coming artist, has long since traded in his creativity for a habit of seducing his models at the San Francisco art school where he teaches. As the son of a Nazi officer who brutalized his family in the aftermath of the war and drove Danzig's older sister, Margot, to suicide, the painter harbors dark memories. He meets Merav, the beautiful granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, when she substitutes as a model in his life drawing class. Merav, like Danzig, has come to America to escape not just the legacy of the Holocaust, but also the loss of her lover in a suicide bombing. When Danzig asks her to pose at his home studio, the project presents emotional risks for both of them. As in her previous novel (The Speed of Light), Rosner presents a simple but earnest belief in the power of art to heal and reconcile. That the story leads to redemption for both Danzig and Merav won't surprise anyone, but readers may find themselves affected anyway.
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Blue Nude, by Elizabeth Rosner
It is quite impressive to have captured the feelings of both the model and painter in this piece. The little details, like the unwinding of the spiral apple peel, and the glimpses out windows in West Marin, how it feels to drive from SF into Marin when the sky opens up for you and the weather makes you feel differently. I love all these little moments in the book, perhaps more so that they story itself. What is it they say about the details being the real truth/reality?
Just as a painter is often capturing a moment in time with color and light, and expressing that one time or place they see visually... Rosner's writing really has tremendous power in the choice of these moments revealed to the reader. There are timeless questions that we all grapple with as we grow older, such as why is it so hard to let go a first true love, even after death? How do we honor a dead friend, or let go of someone who we can no longer help? How do we save ourselves when we know we need to move on, and change to begin again?
I love this book, and I love how Rosner chose to write about a painter and a model. I have been painting from models since I was very young, and there were so many characters I can distinctly remember, from RISD painting classes, all the props they used, and all the stories that could have come from all those bizarre props- umbrellas, oriental rugs, half torsos of manequins... it was like we they were placing a model in an odd flea market somewhere, hoping the artist would pull from it what they wanted, and leave the rest behind.
I never thought about the model at all, but just the shapes, lines, colors, form, movement, light and dark... I always just wanted to draw and capture what I saw as quickly as possible. Trying to capture the truth of what I saw... but how funny to think that the truth behind this is so much more. I never thought about what the models were thinking... that they had full lives, loves, kids, disasters...
Thank you for this book! Keep up the great work.