Hilary Spurling’s books include Pearl Buck in China: Journey to the Good Earth and a biography of Henri Matisse. Her biography of Anthony Powell, Dancing to the Music of Time, will be published in the US next year. (November 2017)

IN THE REVIEW

High-Wire Act

Alexander Calder and Margaret French dancing while Louisa Calder plays the accordion, Farmington, Connecticut, 1936

Calder: The Conquest of Time: The Early Years: 1898–1940

by Jed Perl
Alexander Calder—Sandy to all who knew him—was deceptively easygoing: a bulky, lumbering, slow-spoken figure with big, capable hands and a sleepy smile. Poise, balance, and equilibrium were his priorities, and he could be ruthless in their pursuit. You get some idea of his disruptive potential from the strict rules laid …

Matisse’s Pajamas

Ever since I finished writing a life of Henri Matisse, I have been haunted by an image from H.G. Wells’s novel The Invisible Man. The hero of that book invents a scientific process to make himself invisible with no means of reversing the effect so that he finds himself trapped, …