COLUMNS

  • Books

    Realism

    Linda Nochlin, Realism (London: Pelican Books, 1971), 283 pages, 134 black-and-white illustrations.

    "ALL THAT WAS SOLID and established crumbles away, all that was holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to look with open eyes upon his conditions of life and true social relations,” wrote Marx in the Communist Manifesto.1 How this new consciousness, a product of the revolution of 1848, became a substantive part of artistic self-expression is the subject of Linda Nochlin’s Realism. Like Nochlin’s other writings, but unlike most art-historical studies, Realism is distinguished by the author’s

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  • Books

    I Fumetti di Mao

    THE “COMIC” WAS NEVER less comic. It is a profound (although historically explicable) paradox that the word “comic” attaches to the phenomenon known as the comic strip only in English-speaking countries, where strips have long been the least comic of all. But if we expand the meaning of the term to encompass not only the funny but also what is intended to be broadly recreational, “comic” is no misnomer in the West. Those American strips which are the least outwardly comic in style and content, and which appear to take themselves so very seriously, are conceived and consumed as escapist entertainment.

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  • Books

    Art & Language

    Terry Atkinson, David Bainbridge, Michael Baldwin, Harold Hurrell, Joseph Kosuth, Art & Language (Cologne, Germany: Du Mont, 1972).

    Quadruplicity drinks procrastination.

    —Bertrand Russell

    Despite the rather thrasonical aspects of the “air-conditioning” situation, it might be said to siphon off as a protasis for an inverted Eurekaism.

    —Terry Atkinson and Michael Baldwin

    It is appropriate that to speak of Art & Language is to immediately get entangled in a word confusion: Art & Language is the name of a group of artists whose main activity is the publication of a journal titled Art-Language; the

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  • Books

    Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth Century Art

    Leo Steinberg, Other Criteria, Confrontations With Twentieth Century Art (New York: Oxford University Press), 1972, 436 Pages, 278 Black-and-white Illustrations.

    You can, as an artist, try to say something big about life; or be content to make the stuff in your hands come to life. And this humbler task is the greater, for all else merely follows.

    —Other Criteria

    AS A BOOK MODE, the collection of a critic’s occasional essays tends to be unjustly neglected or condescended to. Prejudices in these matters run in favor of the substantial thesis, the monograph, the survey, the in-depth or the full-scale,

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  • Books

    The Genius of the Future

    Anita Brookner, The Genius Of The Future (New York: Phaidon Press, 1971), 16 pp. black-and-white illustrations, 172 pp.

    MY EXPECTATIONS OF ANITA BROOKNER’S The Genius of the Future were high because her subject, art criticism, has emerged recently as an object of study. To the writing of criticism has been added self-awareness of the act of writing and, as a result, some currently practicing critics have become aware both of present problems and of earlier art criticism as a subject. A study of Diderot, Stendhal, Baudelaire, Zola, the Goncourts, and Huysmans as art writers sounds like a marvelous

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  • Film

    The Venice Film Festival

    THE GREAT OCTOPUS, THE Venice Film Festival, whose tentacles pull in every film except the Baillie-Lehr-Snow structuralism, which is just too radical, takes place in a building as bland and depressingly familiar as Volker Schlondorff’s Strohfeuer. Neither the film palace nor the film (a young woman’s bid for freedom from her marital grind, but Schlondorff doesn’t give her a fighting chance) has a hint of Venice’s eccentric grandeur. There’s nothing Italian about the brand new two-story mausoleum which has to be perked up with massive freestanding bouquets of gladiolas (visiting sex bombs like

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  • Film

    Esthetic Polarity in Independent Cinema and Wintersoldier

    Any formulation of esthetic polarity in the independent cinema would most likely counterbalance social or political documentary with technologically oriented color abstract film. Although both forms create expectations of total immersion into the surface of the screen (the former emotional, the latter sensual in effect), the documentary is predicated on a naturalistically photographed image, a unity between subject and operational space, and the activation of all extrareferential material inherent in that space—usually by way of a spoken soundtrack (I am here excluding the travelogue and

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  • Film

    The End of Summer and Women in Love

    One of the strongest images in Ozu’s The End of Summer (1961) is the crematorium smokestack at the top of a bland, inexpressive landscape, symbolizing the end of an old rake, who sneaked a day at the bicycle races with his mistress and died of overexposure. The sinewy sturdy old man (Ganjiro Nakamura, who looks like Picasso himself with his cockiness and golden sturdy vigor) is the only rambunctious member of a very restrained, duty-conscious family—the invariable cornerstone around which Ozu constructs his pared down home drama perfections. The tactics of the long lead-in to the crematorium

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  • Film

    Loving, Zabriskie Point, Topaz, The Damned, and Au Hasard Balthazar

    Despite many good things (the first notable eyes since Per Oscarrson’s in Hunger in Segal’s sodden performance, Eva Marie Saint’s intelligent and tense mimicries emphasizing a hungry, tensed-for-disaster face, the dress shop scene which has a compassionate pessimism but stops before all the material is exploited), Loving at times looks disturbingly like the “two together” cigarette commercials. Actually, the movie is a fifty-fifty movie: it shows a sensitive touch for a man who is a complete mess, whose habits are wrong from the ground up, and, along with a sharply acted wife, creates this pain

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  • 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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