COLUMNS

  • Books

    Felix Brunner, A Handbook of Graphic Reproduction Processes (Teufen, Switzerland: Arthur Niggli Ltd.), 1962. 329 pages.

    IF ONE IS TO BUY A PRINT in today’s market with a reasonable assurance that he is not being cheated, he must carry his hand magnifier, and be prepared to understand what he sees through it. Which may involve a reasonably good grasp of details like this:

    In the usual aquatint the unprotected parts of the metal are etched to a uniform degree. This causes an even grey surface in the print. In the hand photogravure technique, the gelatine relief prevents the mordant from biting to
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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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  • Books Received: The Best in Arts: Arts Yearbook 6 and The Bitter Years, 1935–41

    The Best in Arts: Arts Yearbook 6, edited by James R. Mellow (New York: Horizon Press), 1962. 168 pp. illus.

    THIS YEAR’S ARTS YEARBOOK takes the form of Mr. Mellow’s selection of articles published in Arts Magazine from the period 1956–1961. Included is Sidney Geist’s fine welcome of “A New Sculptor: Mark Di Suvero,” and a remarkable article on the Suprematist and Constructivist movements in Russia, “Avant-Garde and Revolution,” by K. A. Jelenski, which Arts was keen enough to have translated from the Polish-language “Kultura,” in 1960.

    The best in Arts has always been Hilton Kramer, and the best

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  • 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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  • 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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  • Eduard Trier's Form and Space

    Eduard Trier, Form and Space, (New York: Praeger) 1962. 291 pages, 213 illustrations.

    SCULPTORS REST HELPLESSLY at the mercy of photographers, for, creating objects meant to be seen from a great many viewpoints, they work at complete cross-purposes from the camera, with its single, static view. And, should the camera choose an unflattering view, the other views are not available to redeem the piece. Another danger derives from the drama of shadows and highlights which the photographer can manipulate at will, so that often enough the true work, seen after a photograph of the same object, is

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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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  • Sir John Rothenstein’s British Art Since 1900

    Sir John Rothenstein, British Art Since 1900 (Phaidon), 1962. Illus., 181 pages. 

    THE PICTURE OF BRITISH PAINTING and sculpture is, happily, not nearly so dreary as this book would lead one to believe; one must only keep in mind that almost the entire flock of painters and sculptors who have given vitality to English art in the last decade are completely ignored both in Sir John’s rather stuffy preface and in the deadening series of half-tone photographs following. (One would think that national pride, if nothing else, would encourage the publisher to be more lavish in color plates for the first

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  • Peter Selz’s The Work of Jean Dubuffet

    Peter Selz, The Work of Jean Dubuffet (New York: Museum of Modern Art), 1962. Illus., 187 pp.

    THE EXHIBITION IS TAKEN DOWN; the paintings are returned to their owners, or to the artist’s studio. What remains is history, and more and more that history has come to be embodied in “the catalog.” Nowadays, the catalog is often a full-length book, written by some notable critic or curator. The exhibition brings forth the book; the book purports to be the history of the exhibition. If the books represent the paintings to have been something which they were not, how can they, stacked in corners or hanging

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  • 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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