COLUMNS

  • Books

    Katharine Kuh’s The Artist’s Voice: Talks with Seven­teen Artists

    Katharine Kuh, The Artist’s Voice: Talks with Seven­teen Artists (New York and Evanston: Harper & Row), 1962. 248 pp., illus. 

    POPULARIZATIONS RARELY ADULTERATE the high quality of stock on the shelves of the bookshop at the San Francisco Museum of Art, but Christmas is the great leveler, and nothing makes better Christ­mas fare than a book of interviews with artists.

    The strange results of interviews with contemporary artists have been accounted for in several ways:

    1. A prevailing bias toward measuring intelligence in verbal terms puts the artist at a disadvantage. Trained in a non­verbal medium,

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  • Books

    Robert L. Delevoy’s Léger

    Robert L. Delevoy, Léger (Skira), 1962. 143 pp., illus. 

    FOR SEVERAL DECADES the art of Fer­nand Léger gave expression to one of the most excruciating problems facing the intellectuals of the first half of the twentieth century: the problem of man’s relation to the technology he had evolved. Where on the one hand lay the promise of unheard-of benefits for all of mankind, on the other hand lay the facts of dehumanization, atomization, the destruction of community in men’s lives and dignity in men’s labor. Where on the one hand an array of new forms, colors, textures and shapes tumbled from the

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  • Books

    Eduard Trier's Form and Space

    Eduard Trier, Form and Space, (New York: Praeger) 1962. 291 pages, 213 illustrations.

    SCULPTORS REST HELPLESSLY at the mercy of photographers, for, creating objects meant to be seen from a great many viewpoints, they work at complete cross-purposes from the camera, with its single, static view. And, should the camera choose an unflattering view, the other views are not available to redeem the piece. Another danger derives from the drama of shadows and highlights which the photographer can manipulate at will, so that often enough the true work, seen after a photograph of the same object, is

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  • Books

    Harriet Janis and Rudi Blesh’s Collage

    Harriet Janis and Rudi Blesh, Collage (Philadelphia: Chilton Co.), 1962. 302 pp., illus.

    PITY THE STUDENT, the collector, the ob­server, the artist, trying with pitiful sincerity to find his way in the mad­house of contemporary art history. No sooner does William Seitz clear a cor­ridor with his “assemblage ideas,” than along come Mrs. Janis and Mr. Blesh with their “collage idea,” illustrating their propositions with the same artists and, indeed, the same works. Be­cause the authors of “Collage” are en­thusiasts rather than thinkers, “fans” rather than historians, Seitz is perhaps more convincing,

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  • Books

    Sir John Rothenstein’s British Art Since 1900

    Sir John Rothenstein, British Art Since 1900 (Phaidon), 1962. Illus., 181 pages. 

    THE PICTURE OF BRITISH PAINTING and sculpture is, happily, not nearly so dreary as this book would lead one to believe; one must only keep in mind that almost the entire flock of painters and sculptors who have given vitality to English art in the last decade are completely ignored both in Sir John’s rather stuffy preface and in the deadening series of half-tone photographs following. (One would think that national pride, if nothing else, would encourage the publisher to be more lavish in color plates for the first

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  • Books

    Peter Selz’s The Work of Jean Dubuffet

    Peter Selz, The Work of Jean Dubuffet (New York: Museum of Modern Art), 1962. Illus., 187 pp.

    THE EXHIBITION IS TAKEN DOWN; the paintings are returned to their owners, or to the artist’s studio. What remains is history, and more and more that history has come to be embodied in “the catalog.” Nowadays, the catalog is often a full-length book, written by some notable critic or curator. The exhibition brings forth the book; the book purports to be the history of the exhibition. If the books represent the paintings to have been something which they were not, how can they, stacked in corners or hanging

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  • Books

    Harold Rosenberg’s Arshile Gorky

    Harold Rosenberg, Arshile Gorky (New York: Horizon Press, lnc.), 1962, 143 pgs.

    ONE WRITER RECENTLY EXPRESSED the idea that the proper attitude for the critic of contemporary art is that of “sympathetic interest,” (a phrase which Mr. John Canaday immediately took to task as smacking of partisanship, or at least the opposite of his own favorite myth, “objectivity”). The phrase is a particularly apt one. The honest critic must sooner or later weary of setting up standards and theories which the very next canvases by his favorite artists knock over like so many wooden bottles. Particularly in periods

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  • Books

    John Canaday’s Embattled Critic

    John Canaday, Embattled Critic (New York: Noonday Press), 1962, 238 pgs.

    WHEN A GROUP OF SOME 50 artists and critics wrote to the New York Times questioning Mr. Canaday’s fairness, the Times received 600 letters from its readers, 550 of which supported Mr. Canaday. His book was greeted with full-page pleasure on the art pages of Newsweek Magazine. His voice is undoubtedly the voice of millions. But Mr. Canaday, nevertheless, insists that he is “the embattled critic.” To understand this, we must first of all grasp that Mr. Canaday’s view of recent American art is fundamentally that of a Great

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  • Books

    “Taxes and Art” and Richard H. Rush's “Art as an Investment”

    Taxes and Art (French & Co., Inc., Prentice-Hall, Inc.), 1961.

    Richard H. Rush, Art as an Investment  (Prentice-Hall, Inc.), 1961, 418 pp.

    OF THESE TWO BOOKS, Rush’s Art as an Investment must be considered the more vile, because it costs ten dollars and has 418 pages, while the French & Co. booklet can be had for the asking and is blessed with only 20 pages. By all other standards, they are at a dead heat.

    Shortly after the appearance of the French & Co. booklet, The Commissioner of Internal Revenue issued a statement declaring that his office would examine with a wiser, if sadder eye, tax returns

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  • Books

    Fred W. McDarrah's “The Artist’s World in Pictures”

    Fred W. McDarrah, The Artist’s World in Pictures (New York: Dutton), 1961, 192 pp.

    SO MUCH HAS THE MILIEU in which contemporary art is created become a part of our understanding of that art, that it is no surprise at all to discover that in a book comprising over three hundred photographs whose exclusive subject matter is “The Artist’s World,” less than a dozen of these photographs actually reproduce works of art. The rest of the book is given over entirely to an attempt to convey something of the mood and flavor of the hectic, feverish world of cold-water lofts, gallery openings, critics,

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  • Top Ten

    Tod Lippy

    Tod Lippy is an artist, designer, editor, writer, and curator based in Brooklyn. He is the creator of the nonprofit arts publication Esopus (2003–2018) and executive director of the Esopus Foundation.

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