Ottaviano was born in Vichy in 1924. His father is Sicilian, his mother French. He studied at the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs and the Beaux Arts, but began to paint only when he left them, around 1947. His first paintings—of emaciated women in desperately barren rooms—are evocative of Gruber and bear the mark of his life, a difficult one, and of his dominant mood, melancholy. Lurking in the background, is the danger of sentimental expressionism. Ottaviano avoids it by turning fully to objective reality: the stones of Paris, the hills of Auvergne, desolate beaches, two fish on a table.
Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Episode 22: “Form and Formlessness”
In an essay specially commissioned for the podcast, Aisha Sabatini Sloan describes rambling around Paris with her father, Lester Sloan, a longtime staff photographer for Newsweek, and a glamorous woman who befriends them. In an excerpt from The Art of Fiction no. 246, Rachel Cusk and Sheila Heti discuss how writing her first novel helped Cusk discover her “shape or identity or essence.” Next, Allan Gurganus’s reading of his story “It Had Wings,” about an arthritic woman who finds a fallen angel in her backyard, is interspersed with a version of the story rendered as a one-woman opera by the composer Bruce Saylor. The episode closes with “Dear Someone,” a poem by Deborah Landau.
Rachel Cusk photo courtesy the author.
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