COLUMNS

  • Books

    Political Graphics: Art as a Weapon

    HERE IS A $50.00 ITEM on political graphics. Nothing from Africa, the revolutionary struggles in Mozambique, Angola, etc. Four posters on the H-bomb; nothing from Japan. Two or three mild posters from Cuba; four or five items from Mexico, including several José Guadalupe Posada drawings and a ferocious poster on the 1968 student killings. Nothing else from Latin America, nothing from Chile during the Allende period, nothing from Nicaragua, etc., etc., etc. And what about right wing stuff from Latin America, South Africa, the U.S., elsewhere? Four posters from the Vietnam antiwar period, two of

    Read more
  • Books

    Russian Avant-Garde Art

    LET US SAY FIRST and quickly that this book is a bargain. With 527 glossy, heavy stock pages displaying almost 1200 reproductions, more than half of them in good color, and dozens of documentary photographs, it retails at only $60.00. In this era of excessive prices for books in general, and especially for art books, Abrams is to be congratulated for making such “elite” material available to the art-loving proletariat. They have proved that it can be done.

    And what do we get for this investment? The most comprehensive and accurate look at early Russian modern painting yet seen anywhere. For the

    Read more
  • Passages

    PASSAGES

    Artforum would like to pay remembrance to Seymour Greenbaum, the certified public accountant who was of great help, both personal and professional, to so many artists. Mr. Greenbaum had been a CPA for 30 years. He died in an automobile accident on April 9th, aged 60.

    Read more
  • Books

    Real Lush

    THE TERM “ARTISTS’ BOOKS” seems to be applied more and more confusingly to anything in an art context that resembles a book. I would like to attempt to define this and some related terms. On one of the first occasions that the phrase “artists’ books” was used, it was implied that it referred to “books made by artists.”1 I have no quarrel with this definition, but would like to expand it so that artists’ books are defined as those books made or conceived by artists. The reason for this addition is that few so-called artists’ books are actually the result of a single person’s labor, even though

    Read more
  • Books

    Camera Lucida

    THROUGH THE VOLUMINOUS body of his critical undertaking, Roland Barthes single-handedly transformed not only the language of Modern criticism, but its method, scope, and application as well. His essays published during the last three decades are now considered classics, and range broadly in style and subject matter from the rigorous structural critique of language in its formal aspect in his semiological writings, to the free-flowing and discursive exploration of its various forms and specific texts. In addition to literature, Barthes’ conception of “language,” and hence his field of inquiry,

    Read more
  • Books

    Man as Art

    Man as Art: New Guinea, photographs by Malcolm Kirk, introduction by Andrew Strathern (New York: The Viking Press (A Studio Book), 1981), 143 pages, 92 illustrations, 62 in color.

    SOME YEARS AGO A FRIEND gave me a copy of Self-Decoration in Mount Hagen by Andrew and Marilyn Strathern (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971). This marvelous bit of anthropology changed my thinking about clothing, sculpture, presentation of the individual in society, and ultimately the importance of decoration—not only in New Guinea but in the world at large. My only disappointment with the Stratherns’ book was

    Read more
  • Passages

    H.C. Westermann (1922–1981)

    H.C. Westermann had a genius for making his art look like craft. The harmony that he established with his homey materials was capable of transforming the obvious and the sentimental into the sublime. The eloquent economy of his imagery suggested transcendent folk art, but the compact poetry of his vision lifted it much higher. Westermann was an unequivocally American artist who translated the cynical Duchampian monologue into a rueful Appalachian ballad.

    William Copley’s remembrance of Westermann is a bear hug of a painting. There is no “awful rowing toward God” in this memento mori, but rather

    Read more
  • Books

    Hardboiled America

    It is time that the American people realized themselves. Broadway is genuine. . . . But in the drawing rooms they think it well to deprecate all this. They want to copy Europe, just as we in Russia insisted for so many years on copying Europe. . . .

    —Serge Diaghilev, quoted in Serge Diaghilev, by Richard Buckle

    From a nation of immigrants dependent on what Diaghilev saw as a mail-order heritage, America, by the ’50s, had begun to realize the competitive vitality of its own accomplishments, eventually growing so enamored of its immediate past that planned obsolescence pioneered a brand of turnover

    Read more
  • Books

    Interviews with Francis Bacon 1962–1979

    David Sylvester, Interviews with Francis Bacon 1962–1979 (London: Thames and Hudson (distributed by W.E. Norton & Co.), 1981), 176 pages, 129 illustrations.

    DAVID SYLVESTER’S INTERVIEWS WITH Francis Bacon presents a portrait of a tough-minded artist, a man who is father-conflicted, compulsive, driven to surpass himself, productive in spite of (or perhaps because of) his cynical world view. In the preface, Sylvester suggests that the seven interviews spanning 17 years from 1962 to 1979 form an extended dialogue. That is a prodigious claim, and while Sylvester has elicited the kind of candid

    Read more