COLUMNS

  • Harold Rosenberg’s Arshile Gorky

    Harold Rosenberg, Arshile Gorky (New York: Horizon Press, lnc.), 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 setting up standards and theories which the very next canvases by his favorite artists knock over like so many wooden bottles. Particularly in periods

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  • John Canaday’s Embattled Critic

    John Canaday, Embattled Critic (New York: Noonday Press), 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. But 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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  • Albert Chatelet's and Jacques Thuiller's French Painting from Bouquet to Poussin

    Albert Chatelet and Jacques Thuiller, French Painting from Fouquet to Poussin. 226 pages. 

    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

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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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  • Michael Fried’s 3 American Painters

    Michael Fried, 3 American Painters (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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  • Michael Kirby’s Happenings: An Illustrated Anthology

    Michael Kirby, Happenings: An Illustrated Anthology (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc.),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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  • David Smith by David Smith

    David Smith by David Smith, ed. Cleve Cray (Holt, Rinehart, N.Y., 1968), 176 pages, illustrated.

    As a compilation of statements by the artist, accompanied by many color photographs of Smith and his work, David Smith by David Smith cannot easily be categorized. There is not enough information to consider the book either biography or documentary, nor is is sufficiently systematic to be considered scholarly. Another approach might have been philosophical—an attempt to establish the artists as a speculative or analytical thinker after the fashion of Kandinsky or Sir Joshua Reynolds—but here the book

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  • History of Modern Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture

    History of Modern Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. by H. H. Arnason, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1968

    H. H. Arnason’s History of Modern Art is guaranteed to become a bestselling textbook. In terms of the college market, the book has all of the “proper” ingredients: it is generously illustrated with black and white reproductions and colorplates of the highest quality; it contains more information on more painters, sculptors and architects from more countries than any other single volume published to date; it pursues its subject from the beginning of the 19th century to the late 1960s; finally,

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  • “Taxes and Art” and Richard H. Rush's “Art as an Investment”

    Taxes and Art (French & Co., Inc., Prentice-Hall, Inc.), 1961.

    Richard H. Rush, Art as an Investment  (Prentice-Hall, Inc.), 1961, 418 pp.

    OF THESE TWO BOOKS, Rush’s Art as an Investment must be considered the more vile, because it costs ten dollars and has 418 pages, while the French & Co. booklet can be had for the asking and is blessed with only 20 pages. By all other standards, they are at a dead heat.

    Shortly after the appearance of the French & Co. booklet, The Commissioner of Internal Revenue issued a statement declaring that his office would examine with a wiser, if sadder eye, tax returns

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  • Harriet Janis and Rudi Blesh’s Collage

    Harriet Janis and Rudi Blesh, Collage (Philadelphia: Chilton Co.), 1962. 302 pp., illus.

    PITY THE STUDENT, the collector, the ob­server, the artist, trying with pitiful sincerity to find his way in the mad­house of contemporary art history. No sooner does William Seitz clear a cor­ridor with his “assemblage ideas,” than along come Mrs. Janis and Mr. Blesh with their “collage idea,” illustrating their propositions with the same artists and, indeed, the same works. Be­cause the authors of “Collage” are en­thusiasts rather than thinkers, “fans” rather than historians, Seitz is perhaps more convincing,

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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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