Beatrice Wood’s life was extraordinary in every way, from earliest childhood, when her domineering Victorian mother realized she “wasn’t like the rest of them” to her productive life in old age in California’s Ojai Valley, where she lived and worked until her death at the age of 105.
Rebellious, radical, and romantic, Beatrice Wood was determined to be an artist. She fled to Paris for several bohemian seasons as a painter and actress, then returned to New York where she fell into the loving clutches of two Frenchmen: Henri-Pierre Roche, the author of Jules and Jim, and Marcel Duchamp, the iconoclastic Dadaist. Her promising youth was followed by a disasterous marriage, financial woes and a debilitating physical affliction. But in 1933, at the age of 40, she discovered the passion that would change her life: pottery.
One of America’s most acclaimed ceramicists, Beatrice Wood shares the intriguing details of her unconventional life in I Shock Myself, recollecting nearly ten decades of world-shaking events, heart-breaking romances, and artistic achievement. We are given rare glimpses into the lives of friends and acquaintances such as Duchamp, Roche, Constantin Brancusi, Isadora Duncan, Edna St. Vincent, Anais Nin, and many others. The number of key cultural figures Wood befriends and brushes up against are legion; she recalls the early years with Theosophist Anne Besant and the young sage Nytyananda Krishnamurti.
Above all, it was the mystery of love, sex, and romance that intrigued Beatrice Wood and fired the imagination of both her life and art. I Shock Myself reflects the charm, magic, and rare spirit of a woman who defied propriety, as well as time, to become a true national treasure.
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