Like Sherlock Holmes' dog in the night time, sometimes the true significance of things lies in their absence. Rick Gekoski tells the very human stories that lie behind some of the greatest losses to artistic culture - and addresses the questions such disappearances raise.
Some of the items are stolen (the Mona Lisa), some destroyed (like Philip Larkin's diaries) and some were lost before they even existed, like the career of the brilliant art deco architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which floundered amid a lack of cash - but behind all of them lies an often surprising story which reveals a lot about what art means to us.
Gekoski explores the greater questions these tremendous losses raise - such as the rights artists and authors have over their own work, the importance of the search for perfection in creativity, and what motivated people to queue to see the empty space where the Mona Lisa once hung in the Louvre.
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 251 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 19 mm
Part of the pleasure of sitting crosslegged on the floor with Gekoski, going through his rummage-drawer of disappearances, is that he raises enough interesting questions to show how difficult it is to take a particular view, though he is not too shy to tell us where he stands in each case -- Jeanette Winterson * Times *
Highly entertaining ... One finishes the book exhilarated and amused * Observer *
Illuminating and eclectic * FT *
Always lively and opinionated * Sunday Times *
Delightfully eclectic * Scotsman *
Gekoski has an ear for lively prose and a nose for a good story -- Toby Lichtig * TLS *