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A Look at My Life

Eileen Agar, Andrew Lambirth, Olivia Fraser


'A thrilling insight into one of the 20th century's great artists. Agar's exuberant and colourful life and work come alive in this book' Katy Hessel

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Whether dancing on the rooftops in Paris, sharing ideas with Pablo Picasso, or gathering starfish on the beaches of Cornwall, Eileen Agar (1899–1991) transformed the everyday into the extraordinary. Her legacy as a pioneering figure in the Surrealist movement is firmly established, and her work continues to captivate audiences with its otherworldly beauty and imaginative power.

Agar’s life was no less extraordinary than her art. Here, she traces her life from her birth in Argentina to the late 1980s. She gives an intimate account of very different worlds: grand house parties in Buenos Aires and Belgravia as a young girl give way to la vie bohème in London and Paris, and a peripatetic existence with her lifelong partner, Hungarian writer Joseph Bard. She enjoyed enriching friendships with contemporaries Paul Nash, Ezra Pound, Evelyn Waugh, Gertrude Hermes and Henry Moore, while a summer spent in the South of France with Picasso, Lee Miller and Man Ray had a lasting impact. Agar introduces them and many others into the narrative of her artistic development; above all, it is Agar’s own unwavering resilience, infectious energy and drive that permeates this compelling memoir.

Bringing her work to life in all its vibrancy and variety, this updated autobiography is populated with Agar’s own personal selection of photographs of family, friends and lovers alongside over fifty colour illustrations of collages, paintings and assemblages spanning her life’s work.

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'A thrilling insight into one of the 20th century's great artists. Agar's exuberant and colourful life and work come alive in this book'
Katy Hessel

'A vivid panorama of an adventurous and stimulating age'
Financial Times

'A story as dense in interest as her large and colourful painting, The Autobiography of an Embryo'
Frances Spalding

'A constantly effervescing book: every page bubbles with joy ... A magnetic text which illuminates important decades of art history'
Arts Review

'A light-hearted portrait of an age, and a courageous self-portrait of a considerable artist and an adventurous human being ... a pleasure to read'
George Melly, Modern Painters

'Agar was arguably more self-knowing and outgoing than many artists, and also wrote well... This pithy memoir details her social, sex and working life as well as the British art scene before and after World War II [and] should help bring back her life and work in all their aspects'
The New York Times

'From holidaying with Picasso to saving Salvador Dali from asphyxiation during a surrealist exhibition and warding off Evelyn Waugh’s attempts at seducing her, Agar’s was a colourful life'
Daily Telegraph

'Eileen Agar’s memoir is a manifesto for non-conformity. A female surrealist artist – one of the few women to participate in the genre-defining International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936 – she had a glamorous upbringing in Argentina and London... But she took a different path, deciding to become an artist ... republished for the first time in thirty years, [A Look at My Life] charts Agar’s extraordinary 20th-century life'
The Times

'Explore the life and work of the great surrealist artist Eileen Agar through an updated, fully illustrated, edition of her autobiography A Look At My Life, which is every bit as colourful, distinctive and single-minded as her extraordinary body of work'

'The artist’s distinctive voice can be heard in every line, fluid and gossipy, and her narrative is peppered with arresting insights on art and life'

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 24.0 x 16.5 cm

Extent: 320 pp

Illustrations: 93

Publication date: 2 May 2024

ISBN: 9780500026809

About the Author

Eileen Agar (1899–1991) was a painter, collagist, photographer and object-maker, and was associated with the International Surrealist movement from 1936. Her work has been extensively exhibited to increasing acclaim, including retrospectives at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2021), Pallant House, Chichester (2008), and at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh (1999). Andrew Lambirth is a writer, critic and curator. He has published numerous monographs and has written many articles for, amongst others, The Spectator, the Sunday Telegraph, the Guardian, The Sunday Times, the Independent and RA Magazine.