For decades, Robert Altman fascinated audiences with pioneering films—among them M*A*S*H, Nashville, The Player, and Gosford Park—that combined technical innovation with subversive, satirical humor and impassioned political engagement. His ability to explore and engage so many different worlds with a single, coherent vision changed the landscape of cinema forever. This signature “Altmanesque” style is, in the words of Martin Scorsese, “as recognizable and familiar as Renoir’s brushstrokes and Debussy’s orchestrations.”
Now the Altman estate opens its archive to celebrate his extraordinary life and career in the first authorized visual biography on the iconoclastic director. Altman, by Altman’s widow, Kathryn Reed Altman, and film critic Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan brims with photographs and ephemera culled from private family albums, as well as from a vast collection of previously unpublished images taken on the sets of his films. Alongside the intimate illustrated story is a complete visual, historical, and critical narrative of Altman’s work and his process.
Sticking with the Altman trademark of using a wide cast of characters, Altman also features contributions from close collaborators and contemporaries including Frank Barhydt, E. L. Doctorow, Roger Ebert, Jules Feiffer, Julian Fellowes, James Franco, Tess Gallagher, Pauline Kael, Garrison Keillor, Michael Murphy, Martin Scorsese, Lily Tomlin, Alan Rudolph, Michael Tolkin, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Robert Altman said, “Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes.” This is the moment to honor all of his lifetimes. In addition to the book, the first authorized documentary on the director was recently released and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, will hold a retrospective of his work starting in December.
Kathryn Reed Altman met and married Robert Altman in 1959 and was an active participant in Altman’s professional life. She lives in New York City and Los Angeles.
Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan is a film writer and curator who has published numerous books on American cinema, including monographs on Clint Eastwood and William Friedkin. She is the US programmer of the Venice Film Festival. She lives in New York City.
Martin Scorsese is one of America’s most prominent filmmakers. He has directed classics such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and The Departed. He lives in New York City.