COLUMNS

  • Books

    Ways of Seeing

    John Berger, Ways Of Seeing, based on a television series with John Berger (New York: The Viking Press, 160 pages), illustrated, hardbound.

    Judging from the praise accorded his criticism as well as the cries of outrage—“before John Berger manages to interpose himself again between us and the visible meaning of a good picture, may I point out . . .”1—John Berger is in danger of being condemned to a gadfly role. This would be greatly to underrate the depth and seriousness of his critical undertaking. Berger is one of the few marxist art critics in the English-speaking world (perhaps the only one

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  • Books

    Super Realism: A Critical Anthology

    Super Realism: A Critical Anthology, edited by Gregory Battcock (New York: Dutton Paperbacks), 322 pages, illustrated.

    For several weeks last summer I noted the daily progress of two huge figures being painted on the side of a building north of Times Square. One male and one female figure,each dressed in denim, they composed a cigarette ad. The painters moved about the wall on their pulleyed scaffold, never able to see more of the outlined figures than the area immediately in front of them.

    Now that the painting there is finished, you would think that the designer of the wall had been interested

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  • Film

    Milestones

    The things these kids have lived through.

    —from Milestones

    To stand still, to mark time on one spot, to be contented with the first goal it happens to reach, is never possible in revolution. And he who tries to apply homemade wisdom . . . to the field of revolutionary tactics only shows that the very psychology and laws of existence of revolution are alien to him and that all historical experience is to him a book sealed with seven seals.

    —Rosa Luxemburg

    The apocalyptic and its companion, the eschatological, dominated the thinking and rhetoric of the American sixties “movement” and the “counterculture.”

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  • Books

    Early Modern Sculpture, and Origins of Modern Sculpture: Pioneers and Premises

    William Tucker, Early Modern Sculpture (New York, Oxford University Press, 1974).

    Albert E. Elsen, Origins of Modern Sculpture: Pioneers and Premises (New York, George Braziller, 1974).

    SCULPTURE, LONG THE NEGLECTED HANDMAIDEN of modernism, has commanded ever greater attention from artists, critics, and historians since the 1950s. Serious attempts to deal with 20th-century sculpture before the 1960s can be numbered almost on one hand; and of these early studies, many were limited either by concentration on a national school, usually France, or by a barely disguised set of prejudices and esthetic

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  • Books

    Popular Culture and High Culture: An Analysis and Evaluation of Taste

    Herbert Gans, Popular Culture and High Culture: An Analysis and Evaluation of Taste (New York, Basic Books, 1975), 179 pages.

    SOCIAL SCIENTISTS, SINCE THEY CAN’T handle all the variables of the real world, often employ all-encompassing theories of the world. To test out their theories they send out intelligence agents with their sampling techniques and questionnaires which contain the answers in the questions, and readjust their theories . . . minimally. On the one hand, cultural sociologists question the artist to find out how he or she does it; on the other hand they question the consumers of

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  • Books

    Jacqueline

    Ron Galella, Jacqueline (New York, Sheed And Ward, 1974), 200 pages, 290 black-and-white photographs.

    For the most part, the photojournalist is an anonymous function, a mere agent in a corporate representational enterprise. Our conviction that the news is fact depends on the seamless and transparent character of the medium, on the illusion that we are contemplating the product of an unbiased and uniform professionalism. Recently, however, a space has been cleared in the information industry for a kind of ritual celebration of the “creativity” of the photojournalist. Just as the television newscaster

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  • Books

    Discovering the Present: Three Decades in Art, Culture, and Politics

    Discovering the Present: Three Decades in Art, Culture, And Politics, Harold Rosenberg, edited by Michael Denneny. Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1974, 335 pages.

    Rosenberg’s book consists of 35 articles which originally appeared elsewhere: in Art News, Art News Annual, Commentary, Dissent, Esquire, Jewish Frontier, Midstream, Nation, New Yorker, Partisan Review, Twentieth Century, View, Vogue, as well as in other collections, and, in one instance, an exhibition catalogue. The earliest appeared in 1943, the latest in 1972, with the majority published in the 1960s. The one previously

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  • Books

    The Roots of Man

    Alexander Marshak, The Roots of Man (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1972).

    FROM A STRICTLY CHRISTIAN point of view the meaning of history is prefigured by the antediluvian era. Noah’s ark symbolizes the Church that, at the end of temporal time, will save the faithful from the flood of infidelity. With unrivaled grandeur, Michelangelo illustrates this theme in terms of a tradition that permits him to blend Biblical history with Vergilian Sibyllae who prophesized the coming of Christ. Michelangelo’s Christ descending from the heavens in his second coming is a God of Apollonian beauty and wisdom.

    It was only

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  • Books

    13 Paintings, 13 Books

    John Gage, Turner: Rain, Steam and Speed, Art in Context Series, ed. John Fleming and Hugh Honour (New York, The Viking Press, 1972), 99 pages, 51 black-and-white illustrations.

    Joel Isaacson, Monet: Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1972), 124 pages, 45 illustrations.

    Marilyn Aron-berg Lavin, Piero della Francesca: The Flagellation (1972), 109 pages, 57 illustrations.

    Roy Strong, Van Dyck: Charles I on Horseback (1972), 112 pages, 49 illustrations.

    Elisabeth Dhanens, Van Eyck: The Ghent Altarpiece (1973), 154 pages, 77 illustrations.

    John Golding, Marcel Duchamp: The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors,

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  • Books

    L’Année 1913 and Modern Art Exhibitions 1900–1916

    L’Année 1913: les formes esthétiques de l’oeuvre d’art à la veille de la première guerre mondiale, L. Brion-Guerry, editor. Paris, Editions Klincksieck, 1971, 1973, vols. I and II: studies and chronologies, vol. Ill: manifestoes and documents, 1903 pages, 121 illustrations, indices and chronological tables.

    Modern Art Exhibitions 1900–1916; Selected Catalogue Documentation, Donald E. Gordon. Munich, Prestel-Verlag, 1974, 2 vols., 1268 pages, 1905 illustrations.

    These two monumental works are the most important publications yet to appear in early twentieth-century art history; they are surely

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  • Books

    Contemporary Art and the Plight of the Public: a View from the New York Hilton

    Hilton Kramer, The Age of the Avant-Garde, An Art Chronicle of 1956–1972 (New York: Farrar, Straus And Giroux, 1973), 565 Pages.

    A DECADE AND A LITTLE more have passed since Leo Steinberg composed, for an audience at The Museum of Modern Art, the popular lecture which characterized the situation of the public for contemporary art as a “plight.”1 Postulating an immediately functional idea of a public as grounded in the most generally shared experience of attentive beholders, Steinberg restored the artist and the critic to their places within that very large community. Their “plight” he then

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  • Books

    Dark Glasses and Bifocals

    Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed, Reflections on the Ontology of Film (New York: The Viking Press, 1971), 174 pages, softbound.

    Stephen Koch, Star-Gazer, Andy Warhol’s World and His Films (New York: Praeger Publishers, Inc.), 155 pages, 51 black-and-white illustrations, hardbound.

    HOLDING IN CHECK THE ADAGE about books and their covers, I find myself fascinated by the very look of the two works lying before me. The cover of the one called The World Viewed is white with very thin, very decorous lettering. A handdrawn eye, with half its pupil black-and-white and the other half prismatically colored,

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