COLUMNS

  • James T. Soby’s, James Elliott’s, and Monroe Wheeler’s Bonnard and His Environment

    James T. Soby, James Elliott, Monroe Wheeler, Bonnard and His Environment (New York: Museum of Modern Art, Doubleday & Co), 1964, 116 pages, illustrated.

    THIS BOOK IS OFFERED as a “supplement” to the awesomely competent monograph published by the same institution 13 years ago by John Reward, and still in print. Except for the 41 color plates (in almost every case one wishes color plates had been made for the paintings in the Rewald show instead) and the additional bibliography (which refers the reader to the Rewald book for the first 200 citations) it is difficult to see what supplemental services

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  • Gordon Onslow-Ford’s Painting in the Instant

    Gordon Onslow-Ford, Painting in the Instant (New York: Abrams), 1964.

    RESIDENTS OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA have for years been afflicted by the ubiquitous, insidious drivel of California Zen. The otherwise almost faultless programming of listener-subscription station KPFA looses, with maddening frequency, the unctuous voice of Alan Watts to drench the entire Bay Area in tides of Zen molasses; saintly exponents are forever practicing their all-tolerant smiles in the local bars, and the newspapers cannot spare a week without an interview with some local poet just returned from his year’s stint with

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  • Francis Bacon, The Golden Age of Spanish Sculpture, 100 European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Soutine

    John Rothenstein and Ronald Alley, Francis Bacon (New York: Viking), 1964.

    IT HAS OFTEN been noted that writers never seem to live up to their pre-Nobel Prize performances, and that the Academy Award is usually the kiss of death to an actor’s career. One can only hope that Francis Bacon can survive this strange tribute of a catalogue raisonné of what one hopes will only be a frac­tion of his output. The book surveys and documents Bacon’s entire career, from his early abstract works (we have come to that) to the summer of 1963. An excellent selection of color plates is backed up by over 250 black

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  • Arshile Gorky

    “Arshile Gorky,” by Harold Rosenberg. Horizon Press, lnc., New York, 1962, 143 pgs.

    One writer recently expressed the idea that the proper attitude for the critic of contemporary art is that of “sympathetic interest,” (a phrase which Mr. John Canaday immediately took to task as smacking of partisanship, or at least the opposite of his own favorite myth, “objectivity”). The phrase is a particularly apt one. The honest critic must sooner or later weary of sett ing up standards and theories which the very next canvases by his favorite artists knock over like so many wooden bottles. Particularly in

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  • Embattled Critic

    “Embattled Critic” by John Canaday. Noonday Press, N.Y., 1962, 238 pgs.

    When a group of some 50 artists and critics wrote to the New York Times questioning Mr. Canaday’s fairness, the Times received 600 letters from its readers, 550 of which supported Mr. Canaday. His book was greeted with full-page pleasure on the art pages of Newsweek Magazine. His voice is undoubtedly the voice of millions. BLit Mr. Canaday, nevertheless, insists that he is “the embattled critic.” To understand this, we must first of all grasp that Mr. Canaday’s view of recent American art is fundamentally that of a Great

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  • French Painting from Fouquet to Poussin

    French Painting from Fouquet to Poussin by Albert Chatelet and Jacques Thuiller: At hand is the new Skira book, “French Painting from Fouquet to Poussin,” by Albert Chatelet and Jacques Thuiller, containing 226 pages, of which 109 hold color reproductions. There is a good, up-to-date bibliography and a useful general index. Actually, this is one of three books by these authors who intend to comment on the entire corpus of French painting in these works, a formidable obligation. The present volume covers some 250 years from the rise in the early Renaissance of independent painting in the works

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  • The Fauves

    Jean-Paul Crespelle, The Fauves (Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society), 1962. 351 pages, illustrated.

    GAUGUIN AND VAN GOGH, though they disagreed about almost everything, shared a common dissatisfaction with the state of painting as it had been handed to them by the Impressionists. The Impressionist concern with light, with fidelity to nature, “with what the eye sees,” led directly in the opposite direction from what had become to both men most important: the painting as painting, color as color, and, above all, the painting as an expression of the independent vision of the artist. If the

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  • What is Cinema?

    André Bazin, What is Cinema?, ed. Hugh Gray, (Berkeley: University of California Press) 1967.

    There things are . . . Why manipulate them?

    —Roberto Rossellini

    Cinema is a manipulation of reality through image and sound.

    —Alain Resnais

    OF ALL THE BOOKS on film which have been issued these past two years, in desperate anarchy from the major publishing houses, the selection of essays assembled by Mr. Hugh Gray from the critical writings of André Bazin is, as might have been expected, incomparably the best. It is, in fact, the only book with any claim at all to intellectual distinction, as it alone

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  • 3 American Painters

    3 American Painters By Michael Fried, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, 1965 80 Pages, Illustrated:

    The original selections for the exhibition of works by Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski and Frank Stella for which this is the catalog, were made by Michael Fried for the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard. When the exhibition opened at Pasadena, however, only the works by Olitski were the same as those shown at Harvard (presumably because there were no Olitskis on the West Coast); for the rest, works by Noland and Stella from local galleries and collections replaced the original selections. The strangeness

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  • Happenings: An Illustrated Anthology

    Happenings, An Illustrated Anthology, by Michael Kirby. E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., New York, 1965:

    Some portion of the Happenings, which flourished as a vital movement in New York between 1959 and 1962, has been preserved in a documentary book by Michael Kirby. The major part of the book is devoted to statements, scripts and descriptions of the productions by the five artists represented: Jim Dine, Red Grooms, Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg and Robert Whitman. Altogether, thirteen Happenings are described in detail and amply illustrated with photographs. Kirby wrote all the descriptions after what

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  • Peter Selz’s Max Beckmann

    Peter Selz, Max Beckmann (New York: Museum of Modern Art), 1964. 160 pages, illustrated.

    No painter, it seems, has dated as quickly as has Max Beckmann. The bluntness of his execution, the unabashed literary quality of his art, the profuse and enigmatic symbolism were the very qualities which younger generations of artists were finding least congenial. Dr. Peter Selz could not care less about who contemporary fashion does or does not cotton to, and has prepared his volume with the massive thoroughness we have come to expect of him, although often enough even he must retreat from one of Beckmann’s

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  • The Diaries of Paul Klee (1898–1918)

    The Diaries of Paul Klee (1898–1918) (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press), 1964. 424 pages, illustrated.

    Almost all the great artists wrote well, but few indeed wrote as well as Paul Klee. It is a joy to have these diaries available. The deepening crisis in the arts in the most recent decades has forced almost all artists into an anti-intellectual position. The cultivated image of the artist that emerges from these pages is one that our times will probably not see again.

    Philip Leider

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