Behind the genius: Les Extravagants

Common extravagances behind the genius: Parisian artist Aurelia Alcais beautifully draws 46 portraits of famous people from the past adding curious facts about their private life in her latest book just published by Corraini.
Salvador Dali, Immanuel Kant, Jean-Paul Sartre, Virginia Wolf, Pablo Picasso, Elsa Schiaparelli, Leonardo da Vinci, are some of the names we meet.
Simple, elegant illustrations on the right side and a note in three languages (Italian, English and French) on the left: there is no biographical intent, but only to amuse the reader and play with the concept of identity.
These personality are introduced by first name only, the focus for younger readers is on the facts, while for the adult it's the little game of sorting out all names and mentally go back and forth the information we have about them and the new ones we gather in the book.
We have Jean, Pablo, Oscar, Giacomo and Leonardo here, common people whose extravagances became public at some point.
An interesting exercise which encourages a reflection about the concept of identity (public and private) and about that of normality vs excess and foolishness.
What defines normality?
Sigmund Freud said that 'Every normal person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent'.
So if it's true to some extent that being an artist encourages to live above the line, what do we know about the 'craziness' of people around us?
Les Extravagants [2018]
by Aurelia Alcais
Published by Corraini
Reading age: 9+
Themes: Art, Identity

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