While the picture of her mother offers a glimpse at the paradox that is Madonna, so, too, does another old black-and-white photograph that hangs on the wall in her children's nursery — this is a portrait of her father, Tony Ciccone, and a young Madonna. Just as she has spent a lifetime looking for unconditional love, so, too, has she spent years seeking her father's approval. She remains at heart the little girl continually trying to win over her father, searching for love and acceptance, while rejecting his conformist lifestyle, as a company man working in the defense industry. She is also repelled and attracted by Roman Catholicism, and her father remains a devout Catholic.
While shock and sensation have been Madonna's handmaidens in her success as a cheerleader for controversy and hedonism, her father has always lived by the rules and regulations, either of his company or his church. Nowhere was this divide between them better expressed than in the publication of her controversial Sex book in October 1992. She said it was an act of rebellion against her father, the church and the world in general. Yet, predictably, when they celebrated Christmas together that year at the family home in Rochester, Michigan, it was never once mentioned.
It is not surprising, then, that her father, the man who gave Madonna the values of self-help, independence and thrift, has steadfastly refused the gifts she has offered, be it buying him a new house, a car, or the 5o acres of land in north Michigan where he now tends his award-winning vineyard. `He didn't want any part of the money because of the way she made it,' explained Madonna's former schoolfriend Ruth Dupack Young, who worked with Tony Ciccone for ten years at General Dynamics. "That was definitely the impression he gave. He made everything on his own and he didn't want to be part of her money. He is a strict Catholic who followed the rules and he found it tough when his daughter didn't. It was difficult for him at work being ragged by the other engineers. He is proud of her, but also dismayed by her. There comes a point in life when you ask yourself how much do you do just for success."
Yet it is the dynamic of her personal life, the loss of her mother, the conflict with her father, sin and religion, eroticism and romance, love and loneliness, which have informed her work and formed the bedrock of her success. More than for any other artist, her life is her art, Madonna both the painter and the canvas of that unique creation — herself.
She is the girl who wanted to rule the world but not to change it. She ended up doing a little of both. This is her story.
— From Madonna, by Andrew Morton © November 2001, St. Martin's Press, used by permission.