COLUMNS

  • Katharine Kuh’s The Artist’s Voice: Talks with Seven­teen Artists

    Katharine Kuh, The Artist’s Voice: Talks with Seven­teen Artists (New York and Evanston: Harper & Row), 1962. 248 pp., illus. 

    POPULARIZATIONS RARELY ADULTERATE the high quality of stock on the shelves of the bookshop at the San Francisco Museum of Art, but Christmas is the great leveler, and nothing makes better Christ­mas fare than a book of interviews with artists.

    The strange results of interviews with contemporary artists have been accounted for in several ways:

    1. A prevailing bias toward measuring intelligence in verbal terms puts the artist at a disadvantage. Trained in a non­verbal medium,

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  • Germain Bazin’s The Loom of Art

    The Loom Of Art: By Germain Bazin. Simon & Schuster, N.Y., 1962. 328 Pp., Illus.

    The large, expensive art books are, for the most part, like nothing so much as our big, beautiful, blonde leading ladies of the screen. Dressed up in breathtaking technicolor, worked over from head to toe by hairdressers, cosmeticians, and other assorted perfection-makers, they are given a jumble of meaningless lines to recite, and presented to the world. At first sight, they are dazzling; later, they pall.

    This one is different. The usual perfection of layout, designed to increase our appreciation of expensiveness,

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  • Dore Ashton’s The Unknown Shore

    Dore Ashton, The Unknown Shore (Boston & Toronto: Little, Brown & Co., 1962), 265 pages, Illus.

    ALTHOUGH DORE ASHTON HAS BEEN closely involved with avant-garde American painting for many years—particularly as a critic for the New York Times—it should be borne in mind that this book comes late. Almost two decades have passed since the emergence of the great painters of the New York School, and a good deal of critical analysis has seen its way to print. Still another analysis, coming this late, would be expected to be less breathless, less sketchy, would have to justify its existence, would have,

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  • Art: USA: now

    Art: USA: now, edited by Lee Nord­ness, text by Allen S. Weller (New York: Viking), 1963.

    2 volumes, 475 pages, illustrated.

    “THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED to

    Mr. and Mrs. H. F. Johnson,

    who, had they been asked,

    would have insisted it be dedicated

    instead to the American artist.”

    Probably not. A much more likely sug­gestion might have been:

    For Fibber McGee and Molly

    Who Made All This Possible

    For Mr. H. F. Johnson, of course, is the Chairman of S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc., better known to radio and TV listeners as “The Johnson’s Wax Company,” who one day invited Mr. Nordness “for a luncheon in which the

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  • Alfred Werner’s Modigliani the Sculptor

    Alfred Werner, Modigliani the Sculptor (New York: Arts, Inc.), 1962. 120 pages, illus.

    ART HISTORY IS ONE of the few fields re­maining in which everything is yet to be done. It is therefore no surprise that this book, published in 1962, should be the first book ever published on Modig­liani’s sculpture.

    The artist who is both painter and sculptor is rapidly disappearing—there seems to be a persistent feeling that an artist who is good at the one cannot possibly be very good at the other. Those painters who have produced sculpture in recent times, have done so clearly as a secondary activity. Not

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  • Alfred Werner’s Pascin

    Alfred Werner, Pascin (New York: Harry N. ABRAMS, INC.).

    SOME OF THE GREAT FIGURES in art simply cannot be dealt with within the conventions of the standard “Art Book.” These books, dependent upon elaborate production for their expensiveness, call not for a biography, but a “biographical sketch,” not for a commentary of complex in­sight but a guided tour, and not for a comprehensive view of the artist’s work but an expensive selection of color reproductions. As a result, they are rarely exhaustive on any level, and the more complicated issues raised by the lives and works of artists like Modigli­ani,

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  • Erie Loran’s Cézanne’s Composition

    Erle Loran, Cézanne’s Composition (Berkeley: University of California Press) Third Edition, 1963. 143 pages, illustrated.

    When I heard the learn’d astronomer,

    When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,

    When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

    When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture room,

    How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

    Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,

    In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

    Looked up in perfect silence at the stars.


    —Walt

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  • John Rewald’s Pissarro

    John Reward, Pissarro (New York: Abrams), 1963. 160 Pages, illustrated.

    WITHOUT CAMILLE PISSARRO the history of Impressionism might very well have run a quite different course, yet it is remarkable in how much of the literature of Impressionism his role is slighted. This is perhaps because it is difficult—even Rewald sometimes has trouble—to strike a balance in evaluating his contribution as an artist and his contribution as a man. As an artist he is consistently overshadowed by his comrades, but it is he to whom they refer as their teacher, and when Cézanne, in 1906, now an idol of another

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  • François Stahly

    Francois Stahly, edited by Walter Herdeg, introduction by Carola Giedion-Welck­er (New York: Wittenborn & Co.), 1963. 83 pages, illustrated.

    A HANDSOME BOOK, broadly presenting the many phases of Stahly’s career in a series of excellent photographs.

    Stahly’s work in conjunction with architectural commissions is among his most interesting. If the writhing, or­ganic shapes of some of his fountains lose some of their impact in being fountains, the force of his forms be­come even more intensified in those commissions where he is permitted to work in a more integrated way with the architect. The stucco

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  • Robert L. Delevoy’s Léger

    Robert L. Delevoy, Léger (Skira), 1962. 143 pp., illus. 

    FOR SEVERAL DECADES the art of Fer­nand Léger gave expression to one of the most excruciating problems facing the intellectuals of the first half of the twentieth century: the problem of man’s relation to the technology he had evolved. Where on the one hand lay the promise of unheard-of benefits for all of mankind, on the other hand lay the facts of dehumanization, atomization, the destruction of community in men’s lives and dignity in men’s labor. Where on the one hand an array of new forms, colors, textures and shapes tumbled from the

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  • William C. Seitz’s Mark Tobey

    William C. Seitz, Mark Tobey (New York: Museum of Modern Art), 1962. 112 pp., illus.

    THE USUAL LAVISH, definitive catalog (which makes the accompanying exhibi­tion almost superfluous). The text, by Mr. Seitz is intelligent, exhaustive and scholarly in the best sense of that word.

    Philip Leider

     

     

     

     

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  • Maine and Its Role in American Art

    Maine and Its Role in American Art, edited by Gertrude A. Mellon and Elizabeth F. Wilder (New York: Viking), 1963. 73 pages, illus.

    A COMPLETELY CHARMING and thorough book on Maine art, Maine artists, artists in Maine, from Maine, or painting about Maine. Published in conjunction with the many activities planned for the ob­servance of the Colby College Sesqui­centennial. The reproductions are nu­merous and excellent, and the various essays—by James T. Flexner, Lloyd Goodrich, Donelson F. Hoopes, etc.—full of information and completely in the spirit of an excellent regional sur­vey.

    Philip Leider

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