Books

  • I Fumetti di Mao

    THE “COMIC” WAS NEVER less comic. It is a profound (although historically explicable) paradox that the word “comic” attaches to the phenomenon known as the comic strip only in English-speaking countries, where strips have long been the least comic of all. But if we expand the meaning of the term to encompass not only the funny but also what is intended to be broadly recreational, “comic” is no misnomer in the West. Those American strips which are the least outwardly comic in style and content, and which appear to take themselves so very seriously, are conceived and consumed as escapist entertainment.

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  • Art & Language

    Terry Atkinson, David Bainbridge, Michael Baldwin, Harold Hurrell, Joseph Kosuth, Art & Language (Cologne, Germany: Du Mont, 1972).

    Quadruplicity drinks procrastination.

    —Bertrand Russell

    Despite the rather thrasonical aspects of the “air-conditioning” situation, it might be said to siphon off as a protasis for an inverted Eurekaism.

    —Terry Atkinson and Michael Baldwin

    It is appropriate that to speak of Art & Language is to immediately get entangled in a word confusion: Art & Language is the name of a group of artists whose main activity is the publication of a journal titled Art-Language; the

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  • Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth Century Art

    Leo Steinberg, Other Criteria, Confrontations With Twentieth Century Art (New York: Oxford University Press), 1972, 436 Pages, 278 Black-and-white Illustrations.

    You can, as an artist, try to say something big about life; or be content to make the stuff in your hands come to life. And this humbler task is the greater, for all else merely follows.

    —Other Criteria

    AS A BOOK MODE, the collection of a critic’s occasional essays tends to be unjustly neglected or condescended to. Prejudices in these matters run in favor of the substantial thesis, the monograph, the survey, the in-depth or the full-scale,

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  • The Genius of the Future

    Anita Brookner, The Genius Of The Future (New York: Phaidon Press, 1971), 16 pp. black-and-white illustrations, 172 pp.

    MY EXPECTATIONS OF ANITA BROOKNER’S The Genius of the Future were high because her subject, art criticism, has emerged recently as an object of study. To the writing of criticism has been added self-awareness of the act of writing and, as a result, some currently practicing critics have become aware both of present problems and of earlier art criticism as a subject. A study of Diderot, Stendhal, Baudelaire, Zola, the Goncourts, and Huysmans as art writers sounds like a marvelous

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  • L’Esprit Nouveau

    L’ESPRIT NOUVEAU, Complete Edition, reprinted by Da Capo Press, NY, 1969. Eight volumes.

    In France, as throughout most of Europe, a new spirit reigned during the 1920s which embraced all areas of creative activity. The visual arts, music, literature, philosophy, and politics were but some of the diverse fields affected, and this breadth and vitality was reflected in L’Esprit Nouveau; a publication which brilliantly captured the spirit of this intellectually exciting age. Its editors, predominantly painters, understandably emphasized their chosen art, yet the subtitle justly proclaimed it “an

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  • The Americans

    THE AMERICANS, by Robert Frank. Aperture, Inc., New York (republished) 1959/1969.

    In 1956 Robert Frank, a Swiss photographer living in New York, applied to the Guggenheim Foundation for funds to photograph America. In his proposal he offered “. . . to produce a social document the visual impact of which will nullify explanation.” The grant was awarded, and after it another grant followed. For two years Robert Frank traveled throughout America photographing almost every aspect of our culture. In 1959 he published these photographs, first in Europe (Delpire Press, Les Americans) and later in America,

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  • Jack Burnham’s Beyond Modern Sculpture

    Jack Burnham, “Beyond Modern Sculpture: The Effects Of Science And Technology On The Sculpture Of This Century” (George Braziller, 1968); 402 pages, 135 illustrations in black and white.

    AFTER YEARS OF CONSIDERABLE NEGLECT, modern sculpture is beginning to experience an eager courtship by publishers anxious to present its history in the same coffee table format with cafeteria content that has afflicted modern painting. We are already wading in the first waves of books on sculpture whose covers are too far apart or which you can’t pick up once you’ve put them down. (Recently we have even been

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  • Brancusi, A Study of the Sculpture

    Sidney Geist, Brancusi, A Study of the Sculpture (Grossman Publishers,

    New York, 1968), 248 pages, illustrations.

    Toward the end of his life Rodin was asked how it felt to be the greatest sculptor of the last century. He replied that this was no great honor as there were so few great sculptors in his time. To say that Sidney Geist’s book on Brancusi is the best on a modern sculptor beggars his achievement, for there are so few good books to begin with. What has hindered our understanding of modern sculpture is not the lack of a bibliography or its neglect by historians in favor of painting, but

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  • American Art Since 1900

    Barbara Rose, American Art Since 1900, illus., Praeger.

    In trying to evaluate Barbara Rose’s book, American Art Since 1900, one thing to keep in mind is that the book was written for the Praeger World of Art series. These books are not addressed to a public of any special seriousness and they are not intended to be very closely read. It is unfair to expect very much of them, and since they usually corroborate this modest view I doubt if Miss Rose’s book would have been reviewed at all in this magazine if she were not a regular contributor to it. Certainly it is a routine production, but my opinion

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  • “The Academy,”Art News Annual #XXXIII

    The Academy, Art News Annual #XXXIII, ed. Thomas Hess & John Ashbery (Macmillan, N.Y. 1967), 176 pages, illustrations.

    Failed art, as prevalent as forgettable conversation, rarely provides a critical issue. We are success oriented, not inclined to devote much attention to the downbeat and the also-rans. But, (leaving aside simple deficiency of talent), the latter often fall into commingled categories—the sentimental, the rhetorical, and the academic—which are quite worth studying as phenomena that may shift their perimeters at any moment. For every gesture or sensibility in art is now shadowed

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  • Paul Strand, The Mexican Portfolio, Paul Caponigro, and Photography in the Twentieth Century

    Paul Strand, The Mexican Portfolio (Da Capo Press For Aperture, Inc.), 20 hand-pulled gravure plates, 4-page text in portfolio with slipcase, 12 1/2” X 16”, edition of 1000 numbered and signed copies.

    Paul Strand’s Mexican Portfolio, an incredibly beautiful group of photographs taken during the early thirties, was issued in 1940 in a limited subscription (250 copies) edition. The volume has been unavailable in any form since that time. This year, Aperture, Inc., publisher of the quarterly of photography, has produced a new signed edition of 1000 copies for the Da Capo press. The portfolio includes

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  • Store Days

    Store Days By Claes Oldenburg. Something Else Press, Illus., Color, 152 Pages, 1967.

    The writings of Claes Oldenburg printed in Store Days consist of fragments, notes, philosophical observations, and scripts, dating from the Store of 1961 and the Ray Gun Theater of 1962. As he sketches his ideas, Oldenburg does not outline a coherent theory so much as he suggests an attitude toward theory. He thinks abstractly: “I operate, idea-wise, far above the ground,” but he counters the abstractions with an earthy factualness: “I have a compulsion . . . to relate myself to what is on the ground” (62). An

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