COLUMNS

  • 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

    Francis Bacon, The Golden Age of Spanish Sculpture, 100 European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Soutine

    John Rothenstein and Ronald Alley, Francis Bacon (New York: Viking), 1964.

    IT HAS OFTEN been noted that writers never seem to live up to their pre-Nobel Prize performances, and that the Academy Award is usually the kiss of death to an actor’s career. One can only hope that Francis Bacon can survive this strange tribute of a catalogue raisonné of what one hopes will only be a frac­tion of his output. The book surveys and documents Bacon’s entire career, from his early abstract works (we have come to that) to the summer of 1963. An excellent selection of color plates is backed up by over 250 black

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  • Film

    How I Won the War

    How I Won the War, a neither admirable nor contemptible altruism about the villains who coin money making war films, has enough material to stock several war films. Basically, it’s the war story of the fictitious 3rd Troop, 4th Musketeers. Among its luminous personnel are a sweating coward digging himself into holes and hiding under pots and pans; a working-class mocker in steel rims played by the Beatles’ John Lennon; a mad clown who prates Falstaffian brain-dulling lingo; and two zombies—a pink and a green man returned from the dead.

    The exploits of the boy leader, Michael Crawford, and his

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  • Film

    Four Stars and Hold Me While I’m Naked

    The theaters of the Underground—often five or six docile customers in an improbable place that looks like a bombed-out air shelter or the downstairs ladies room at the old Paramount—offer a weirdly satisfying experience. For two dollars the spectator gets five bedraggled two-reelers, and, after a sojourn with incompetence, chaos, nouveau culture taste, he leaves this land’s end theater feeling unaccountably spry.

    In the clique-ish, subdued atmosphere of the New Cinema Playhouse, Tambellini’s Gate, there is more than an attempt to dump the whole history of films. One glance at the pock marked

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  • Books

    Peter Selz’s Max Beckmann

    Peter Selz, Max Beckmann (New York: Museum of Modern Art), 1964. 160 pages, illustrated.

    No painter, it seems, has dated as quickly as has Max Beckmann. The bluntness of his execution, the unabashed literary quality of his art, the profuse and enigmatic symbolism were the very qualities which younger generations of artists were finding least congenial. Dr. Peter Selz could not care less about who contemporary fashion does or does not cotton to, and has prepared his volume with the massive thoroughness we have come to expect of him, although often enough even he must retreat from one of Beckmann’s

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  • Books

    The Diaries of Paul Klee (1898–1918)

    The Diaries of Paul Klee (1898–1918) (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press), 1964. 424 pages, illustrated.

    Almost all the great artists wrote well, but few indeed wrote as well as Paul Klee. It is a joy to have these diaries available. The deepening crisis in the arts in the most recent decades has forced almost all artists into an anti-intellectual position. The cultivated image of the artist that emerges from these pages is one that our times will probably not see again.

    Philip Leider

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