COLUMNS

  • 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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  • Books

    Store Days

    Store Days By Claes Oldenburg. Something Else Press, Illus., Color, 152 Pages, 1967.

    The writings of Claes Oldenburg printed in Store Days consist of fragments, notes, philosophical observations, and scripts, dating from the Store of 1961 and the Ray Gun Theater of 1962. As he sketches his ideas, Oldenburg does not outline a coherent theory so much as he suggests an attitude toward theory. He thinks abstractly: “I operate, idea-wise, far above the ground,” but he counters the abstractions with an earthy factualness: “I have a compulsion . . . to relate myself to what is on the ground” (62). An

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  • Books

    Photographers on Photography

    Photographers on Photography, edited by Nathan Lyons (Prentice Hall [in collaboration with George Eastman House]), 256 pages, illustrated.

    MR. LYONS HAS FASHIONED HIS BOOK in three parts: complete texts of the photographers’ articles; a carefully researched section of biographical notes and bibliographies; and his own comment, which consists solely of selected reproductions from the writers’ photographs.

    These three sections are not independent; they interact to provide statement, context, demonstration and their permutations, the whole forming a symposium, an extremely successful example of that

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  • Film

    Camp, Andy Warhol

    Andy Warhol began as a film-maker by making extremely long films in which nothing, or almost nothing, happened. “Sleep” and “Empire” managed to astonish people by their overweening length and their insistent silence. Warhol reduced the cinema to its simplest possible manifestation—a single image that moved. This was also its first manifestation historically: Muybridge’s trotting horse, Dickson’s sneezing man, Lumiere’s decelerating train. But where these primitive films lasted only a few minutes Warhol’s first film “Sleep” lasted eight hours in its original version. By this radical elongation

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  • Books

    Mannerism by Arnold Hauser

    Arnold Hauser, Mannerism (Knopf, New York), 1965. Two volumes.

    Naturalness—what poverty of spirit.

    Clarity—what thoughtlessness.

    The author of these lines is not Oscar Wilde or Huysmans but Gongora, one of the extreme exponents of the taste for artificiality in the period to which Arnold Hauser’s new book is devoted. Its title is nothing less than “Mannerism: the Crisis of the Renaissance and the Origin of Modern Art.” It is a matter of record that for Mr. Hauser art is an expression of ideology and that his approach to it is sociological. In “The Social History of Art” he applied these views to

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  • Books

    The Widening Stream. Poems by Richard Mack, photographs by Wynn Bullock.

    The Widening Stream, poems by Richard Mack, photographs by Wynn Bullock (Peregrin Publications, Monterey, California), 1965. 2000 copies printed.

    Because Wynn Bullock has worked in the same geographical region and often in the same forms, his work has too often been eclipsed by the work of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Both Adams and Weston are more prolific photographers, and Bullock’s carefully considered seeing can in no way compete with Adams’ flamboyant grandeur or Weston’s flamboyant sensuality. Bullock’s work has been seen occasionally in group shows in the Bay Area—perhaps he is best

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  • Books

    Aaron Siskind

    Aaron Siskind, edited and introduction by Nathan Lyons, with essays by Henry Holmes Smith and Thomas B. Hess (Eastman House), 1965. 74 pages, 44 photographs.

    AARON SISKIND, ALONE OF THOSE major artists whose germinal works constituted the ground for the central esthetic dialogue of the postwar age, chose to work solely in the photographic medium. The complete relevance of his accomplishments in photography to those in the other art disciplines have caused him to occupy that unique position which has been vacant since the death of Stieglitz.

    His historical credentials for this position are of course

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  • Books

    Meditations on a Hobby Horse

    Meditations On A Hobby Horse by E. H. Gombrich, Phaidon, London 1963: E. H. Gombrich is a remarkable art historian who has increasingly concerned himself with the reciprocal relationships between art and perception. Or more precisely, he is interested in what happens when we look at pictures and how our eyes and minds are set to work by objects which are mental and sensuous amalgams in their own right. This has led him, in his famous “Art and Illusion,” to discuss such matters as the theory of representation, the psychological conditions of sight, and the nature of visual communication. One of

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  • Books

    James T. Soby’s, James Elliott’s, and Monroe Wheeler’s Bonnard and His Environment

    James T. Soby, James Elliott, Monroe Wheeler, Bonnard and His Environment (New York: Museum of Modern Art, Doubleday & Co), 1964, 116 pages, illustrated.

    THIS BOOK IS OFFERED as a “supplement” to the awesomely competent monograph published by the same institution 13 years ago by John Reward, and still in print. Except for the 41 color plates (in almost every case one wishes color plates had been made for the paintings in the Rewald show instead) and the additional bibliography (which refers the reader to the Rewald book for the first 200 citations) it is difficult to see what supplemental services

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  • Books

    Gordon Onslow-Ford’s Painting in the Instant

    Gordon Onslow-Ford, Painting in the Instant (New York: Abrams), 1964.

    RESIDENTS OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA have for years been afflicted by the ubiquitous, insidious drivel of California Zen. The otherwise almost faultless programming of listener-subscription station KPFA looses, with maddening frequency, the unctuous voice of Alan Watts to drench the entire Bay Area in tides of Zen molasses; saintly exponents are forever practicing their all-tolerant smiles in the local bars, and the newspapers cannot spare a week without an interview with some local poet just returned from his year’s stint with

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  • Books

    BOOKS RECEIVED

    Edward Ruscha, Every Building on the Sunset Strip (Privately Printed, Los Angeles), 27' long (when unfolded), boxed.

    TWENTY-SIX GASOLINE STATIONS (see Artforum, v. II #3, pg. 57) turns out to have been the first of a series of “little books” privately produced by Los Angeles artist Edward Ruscha. It was followed by Various Small Fires and Milk (photographs of various small fires and a glass of milk at the end), Some Los Angeles Apartments (photos of some Los Angeles apartment buildings) and now, Every Building on the Sunset Strip (photographs of every building on the Sunset Strip). As in the

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