COLUMNS

  • Books

    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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  • Books

    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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  • Film

    Space in Film

    Space is the most dramatic stylistic entity—from Giotto to Noland, from Intolerance to Weekend. How an artist deploys his space, seldom discussed in film criticism but already a tiresome word of the moment in other art, is anathema to newspaper editors, who believe readers die like flies at the sight of esthetic terminology.

    If there were a textbook on film space, it would read: “There are several types of movie space, the three most important being (1) the field of the screen, (2) the psycho logical space of the actor, (3) the area of experience and geography that the film covers.” Bresson deals

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  • Film

    The Ten Best: Black Girl, Ma Nuit Chez Maud, Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son, ←→, Ghronik der Anna Magdalena Bach

    The ten best: 1) Black Girl 2) Ma Nuit Chez Maud 3) Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son 4) ←→ 5) Ghronik der Anna Magdalena Bach 6) Le Gal Savoir 7) a tie among three Hollywood eccentricities, The Wild Bunch, Easy Rider, The Rain People 8) High School and La Raison Avant La Passion 9) Coming Apart 10) They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and La Femme Infidèle.

    One. Black Girl could have been sentimental pro-African anti-white (a very quiet, particular, personal story: an obstinate, naive Sengalese, taken to France as a mother’s helper, finds that she has no freedom of movement when she gets there. Thrilled to

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  • Film

    Le Gai Savoir, The Wild Bunch, Easy Rider, The Rain People, High School, La Raison Avant La Passion

    Six. Le Gai Savoir has the same mix, fanatic estheticism, and outrage at the Establishment of an anti-form piece at Leo Castelli’s warehouse. A fresh-faced girl and boy spend the post-midnight hours on a TV stage reviewing the state of world affairs, in a potpourri of advertisements, Tom and Jerry, Magic Marker scribbles and glaring newsreels of street crowds that come on like lantern slides and flicker off quickly. The raucous, exhilarating track hasn’t a soporific note in it. The Berto-Léaud actors are curt, impatient cartoon characters, more extremely cartoons than the Parisian red guardists

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  • Film

    Wavelength, Standard Time, ←→, and One Second in Montreal

    THE COOL KICK OF of Michael Snow’s Wavelength was in seeing so many new actors—light and space, walls, soaring windows, and an amazing number of color-shadow variations that live and die in the windowpanes—made into major esthetic components of movie experience. In Snow’s Standard Time, a waist-high camera shuttles back and forth, goes up and down, picking up small, elegantly lighted square effects around a living room very like its owner: ordered but not prissy. A joyous spiritual little film, it contains both his singular stoicism and the germinal ideas of his other films, each one like a

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  • Film

    The Underground Festival at the Elgin Theater, La Raison Avant La Passion, Cat Food, and 1933

    At the Underground Festival that ran night and day in late December at the Elgin Theater, Snow’s films were pure reflective intelligence within an exacting, hard-nosed compositional system. The direct opposite is a random, hit-and-miss quality in Joyce Wieland’s La Raison Avant La Passion, a veritable pasture of expansive landscape imagery. The film is divided into three sections, a green section of the East. Coast, then a middle which is an ode to Trudeau (mostly Canadian flags and hot orange-red-pink face shots) and lastly an extraordinary white endlessness of snowscape. With its dry middle

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  • Books

    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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  • Books

    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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  • Books

    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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  • Books

    “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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  • Books

    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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