COLUMNS

  • Books

    Paris Without End

    Paris without End: On French Art since World War I by Jed Perl, Berkeley, Calif: North Point Press, 1988, 160 pp., 50 black and white illustrations.

    IN THIS STRONG COLLECTION of essays, Jed Perl calls attention to the work of first- and second-generation Modernists done in the wake of the revolutionary years before and during World War I. Historians have tended to look askance at some of the art that followed the war—at Henri Matisse’s Nice paintings, say, only recently resurrected in critical terms with a large show organized last year by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The work

    Read more
  • Books

    Sigmar Polke—Zeichnungen 1963–1969

    BOUND IN DARK-BLUE LINEN, with a cover drawing stamped in silver (as are the words on the spine), this meticulously printed volume of Sigmar Polke’s early drawings is an imposing proposition. The easily manageable weight of the splendid publication, then, is a real surprise, yet clearly one more reflection of its publisher’s mission. For this volume is no bibliophile artwork in the conventional sense—it is more a labor of love. Publisher Johannes Gachnang clearly decided on the generous size of the book to correspond to the format of drawings superbly reproduced within, yet he also selected a

    Read more
  • Books

    The Magician’s Wife

    JEROME CHARYN'S FICTION, FOR those unfortunate enough not to have read it, ranges from tales of childhood in the Bronx to a thriller—in the esthetic as well as in the literary-genre sense—about a Jewish homicide detective soured by the tapeworm of unrequited love. Much of it comprises a personal view of the city in which Charyn was born and raised, and in which we remain strangers and tourists until we die. This is a speedy, lyrical fiction, brutal and romantic. When it hits, it’s like reading Lewis Carroll and Louis-Ferdinand Céline while riding a steeplechase, but you soon come to see that

    Read more
  • Books

    Dance and Photography

    Dance and Photography, by William A. Ewing, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1987, 240 pp., 233 black-and-white photographs.

    “WHAT MAKES A GREAT dance photograph?” begins William Ewing in the foreword to his book, an elegant collection of 233 black and white images, dating from ca. 1849 to 1987, that he presumably imagines as some kind of answer to his question. The resulting compilation has enough visual punch to transcend relegation to the coffee table, and to animate not only the most ardent dance-photography aficionado but the less enthusiastic reader and viewer as well. A parade of well-known

    Read more
  • Books

    Fashion and Surrealism

    Fashion and Surrealism, by Richard Martin. New York: Rizzoli, 1987, 240 pp., 15 color and 285 black-and-white illustrations.

    RICHARD MARTIN HAS PUT together a very useful book documenting Surrealism’s contribution to 20th-century fashion—not fashion in general, but fashion with a capital F, the industry centered around the design of women’s clothes. The book, which is exhaustively illustrated, traces the relationship between the two at the level both of direct effect—fashion designs etc. by Surrealist artists—and of the indirect, the distant, or possibly even the merely coincidental, as in

    Read more
  • Books

    The sounds of silents. And, of course, Charlie Chaplin. From a new edition of the writings of Sergei Eisenstein.

    Edited and translated by Richard Taylor, Eisenstein, Selected Works. Volume I: Writings, 1922–34 will be published in December by Indiana University Press, Bloomington, and the British Film Institute, London, at 352 pages, with 20 black-and-white illustrations. The following prepublication excerpt, written by Eisenstein and Sergei Yutkevich, is the text of an essay entitled “The Eighth Art. On Expressionism, America and, of course, Chaplin.”

    A CHAPTER FROM A STORY: "At the end of the Great War an improbable thing happened. The Festive Parnassus of the seven classical muses who were officially in

    Read more
  • Books

    A masked ball. From Charles Osborne's Verdi: A Life in the Theatre.

    Charles Osborne’s biography Verdi: A Life in the Theatre, featuring a generous selection of letters from the composer’s voluminous correspondence, will be published in January by Alfred A. Knopf, New York at 384 pages, with 16 pages of photographs. The following prepublication excerpt describes the genesis of Un ballo in maschera (A masked ball).

    VERDI PREPARED TO compose Gustavo III di Svezia, and asked Antonio Somma to turn Scribe’s French libretto into an Italian one. Somma agreed, but added that he would prefer to do it anonymously or pseudonymously, perhaps not wanting to be involved in any

    Read more
  • Books

    the Acropolis

    The following are prepublication extracts from three forthcoming books. The first is Le Corbusier’s The Journey to the East, the travel diary that he kept during his first journey through Central and Eastern Europe, at the age of 24. Edited and annotated by Ivan Zaknic, and translated by Zaknic in collaboration with Nicole Pertuiset, it was in May 1987 by the MIT Press, in Cambridge, Mass., and London, England, at 272 pages, with 84 black-and-white illustrations. ($19.95)

    TO SEE THE ACROPOLIS is a dream one treasures without ever expecting to realize it. I don’t really know why this hill harbors

    Read more
  • Books

    Hispanic Art and Identity

    Octavio Paz’s essay “Art and Identity: Hispanics in the United States,” translated by Eliot Weinberger, appeared in Hispanic Art in the United States: Thirty Contemporary Painters and Sculptors (which also contained essays by John Beardsley and Jane Livingston). It was published in May 1987 by Abbeville Press, Inc., New York, at 236 pages, with 150 color and 50 black-and-white illustrations. ($45)

    OUR EARLIEST EXPERIENCE, in the darkness of the beginning, is a sensation of a sudden breaking away. Expelled from an all that envelops us, we open our eyes for the first time in strange, indifferent

    Read more
  • Books

    Film

    Mary Ann Doane's The Desire to Desire: The Woman's Film of the 1940s was published in June 1987 by Indiana University Press, Bloomington, at 256 pages, with 73 black-and-white illustrations. (cloth $35; paperback $12.50)

    TOWARD THE END of Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), there is a close-up of some duration of Mia Farrow in spectatorial ecstasy, enraptured by the image, her face glowing (both figuratively and literally through its reflection of light from the movie screen). This rapture persists despite the rather tawdry surroundings of a lower-class movie theater. What the shot

    Read more
  • Books

    Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale.

    Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, by Art Spiegelman. New York: Pantheon Books, 1986, 159 pp.

    WHAT’S STRANGE ISN’T THAT Art Spiegelman’s Maus has received so much critical acclaim since its publication. Rather, it’s that the critics (with a few exceptions) seem so unprepared for the idea that a comic can convey so complex a narrative about a subject whose unaccountability has made it the most difficult ethical problem of the 20th century. Historians, psychoanalysts, artists, writers, filmmakers, and many others have all struggled with it. I am referring to the Holocaust.

    The comic form always involves, to

    Read more
  • Books

    An excerpt from G. Craig Houston’s New Translation Of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Rodin And Other Prose Pieces

    The following passages are prepublication extracts from three forthcoming books. The first is a group of essays by Rainer Maria Rilke, including a series of writings on Auguste Rodin, newly translated by G. Craig Houston. It will be published under the title Rodin and Other Prose Pieces by Quartet Books/Salem House Publishers, of Topsfield, Mass., in March. A 167-page paperback, it will contain 16 black-and-white illustrations. (©Ausgewãhlte Werke II, Insel Verlag, 1948).

    RODIN WAS SOLITARY BEFORE he became famous. And Fame, when it came, made him if anything still more solitary. For Fame, after

    Read more