COLUMNS

  • Books

    The Golden Age, Images of a Golden Past, A toute épreuve, Cézanne and the End of Impressionism, and 19th Century Art

    THIS HANDSOME AND INFORMATIVE BOOK will be of use to specialists and laymen alike. The text is comprehensive, almost encyclopedic, covering—in addition to its discussion of individual artists and pictures—such matters as patronage, theory, and subject matter, as well as the political, historical, religious, and economic contexts in which Dutch painting developed during the 17th century. The treatment of individual artists is organized geographically, in terms of major artistic centers, which has the advantage of conveying a good deal of the specific texture, and variety, of the life out of which

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  • Books

    A Not So Still Life and Social Graces

    “I HOPE THAT IS NOT the way Jimmy will remember me after he’s gone,” said Max Ernst. He was referring to an incident at Café Flore in Paris a few days before his son, Jimmy, was due to emigrate to the United States. Max’s first ex-wife, Jimmy’s mother, Lou Straus-Ernst, was present, as was his current mistress, Leonora Carrington, when his second ex-wife Marie-Berthe Aurenche passed by. She saw them all, but for once did not make a scene. This is typical of many occasions more awkward than revealing that Jimmy remembers in this autobiographical book, which concentrates mainly on his parents.

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  • Books

    German Aesthetic and Literary Criticism , Aesthetic Theory, and And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos

    THIS WORK OFFERS MAJOR critical texts by Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis, Ludwig Tieck, Karl Solger, Jean Paul Richter, August Wilhelm von Schlegel, and of course Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Kathleen Wheeler also provides an admirably straightforward explication of the ideas and issues that engaged these romantic thinkers and literati, and a strong reminder that their work anticipated many contemporary interests, from the role of language to that of irony in art. Much of the material here has been previously unavailable in English; two more anthologies covering additional materials from the same

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  • Books

    Minima Moralia, Narcissism and Death, and Jewish Experience in the Art of the Twentieth Century

    MINIMA MORALIA IS THEODOR Adorno’s most characteristic work, and has become a classic of critical thinking. It is an examination of subjectivity in a situation of vanishing subjectivity, by means of an aphoristic—quasi-subjective—method. As Adorno writes, “If today the subject is vanishing, aphorisms take upon themselves the duty to consider the evanescent itself as essential:” He is aware of the contradiction in dialectical method this entails: “Dialectical theory, abhorring anything isolated, cannot admit aphorisms as such,” especially those that seem to assume “the mere being-for-itself of

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  • Books

    The Architecture of Death, The Great Cat Massacre, DV, Glen Baxter His Life, and Has Modernism Failed?

    FOR CLARITY AND DEPTH of scholarship, for its unobtrusive erudition and the light it casts on what we have imagined to be the function of the cemetery for the quick and the dead, Richard Etlin’s book is a marvel. It stands as an example of the value and beauty of humanistic study and ranks among the highest works of interdisciplinary learning in the history of ideas.

    Etlin fulfills his claim that “this book . . . is not a simple architectural or social history. It is an exploration of how a society fashions its physical world to support and sustain its most cherished convictions and deepest

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  • Books

    $19.84

    STARTING WITH THE TITLE $19.84, William Wegman pokes fun at life in the ’80s—of course, everything that used to cost $5.00 (like artists’ publications) now costs $19.84. Actually his book costs $10.00 and this is cheap, really, for what’s inside. One example to suggest the rest: Foster Parents, 1984, is a Polaroid photo of a small girl holding the hand of a woman draped in tiger-striped fabric, who in turn is standing next to a man draped in giraffe-patterned fabric except the spots are black. Get it? OK let’s try another one. How about a line drawing in black and white of a grown man and a boy.

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  • Books

    Alphonse Mucha, Breaking and the New York City Breakers, _Everyday Problems, American Impressionism, and The Restless Decade

    IN THE “AGE OF THE COLLECTOR” everything is fair game, and Alphonse Mucha’s art nouveau posters and panels prove no exception. It was only a matter of time before a book devoted to his graphic work was published. If you’re a member of the Alphonse Mucha Fan Club, an avid collector of his work, or a lover of ingratiating, middlebrow, fin de siècle symbolism, then this may just be the right book. It attempts to be a definitive catalogue of Mucha’s work; every known poster, panel, and variant is reproduced. Many of the reproductions are given a full page. Dimensions, publisher, and date are listed,

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  • Books

    The Collected Letters of William Morris

    WILLIAM MORRIS’ WORK IS UNIQUE in never having gone completely out of fashion. His designs have always been available to the public (except during the years of the Second World War): not in the sterile atmosphere of museums but in the more exciting and practical form of purchasable bales of cloth and rolls of wallpaper. But the lasting popularity of his designs is not the only reason for his widespread fame today, which also arises from his anticipation, in his political and ideological writings and by his practical activities, of the preoccupations of our age. Much of our concern for conservation,

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  • Books

    Larva

    IT STARTS WITH THE COVER, a soot-black image by Antonio Saura on which the title, Larva: Babel de una noche de San Juan, is inscribed, a title that cedes its place to a premonitory cyclopic eye dominating the drawn and dribbled face in typical Sauresque dramatic dissolution. Thematically, and physically, this is a complex image, fitting in relation to a complex text, a novel that is itself full of visual as well as verbal surprise and difference. We see Saura’s eye before we see the enigmatic profile that contains it. It peers out at us as we peer into it, sharing the voyeuristic experience it

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  • Books

    Network: Art in the Complex Present, The Critic is Artist: The Intentionality of Art, and Get the Message?

    THREE NEW BOOKS ARE WORTH noticing: three important retrospectives of the discourse on art. They stand out because in various ways and to various degrees they do not merely describe art, but make demands, ask for amends, hold out possibilities; they often describe nonexisting art or art that leaps out from the welter of ordinary art activity. Lawrence Alloway, Donald Kuspit, and Lucy Lippard construct their utopias on different plateaus of expectation.

    Of the three, Alloway is the most generous. A populist-reformist, he wants a fairer hearing for unheard voices—the decentralization of museums,

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  • Books

    How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art: Abstract Expressionism, Freedom, and the Cold War

    IT OFTEN SEEMS AS THOUGH art historians want to reduce the practice of art to something like their own business, a business in which a major piece of news is most often a squabble over a minor piece of information. Art historians like to worry about provenance, to argue about priority, about who did what first; they like to organize artists into schools and parties and to demonstrate similarities. They seem especially fond of this last activity, working hard to deny the particularity of artworks, their relations to the conditions that helped create them, presenting instead a rather disinterested

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  • Books

    For Georges Remi/Hergé

    I THOUGHT LONG ON HOW to write about my friend Georges Remi, known everywhere as Hergé, the creator, or—as they called him in the European press the day he died in March, 1983—the father of Tintin.

    I first assumed I would describe his work, analyze its images and themes, but there are already scholars and experts, such as the French cultural philosopher Michel Serres, who thoroughly know the Hergé oeuvre and can elucidate the nuances of the transformations of Tintin from his earliest black and white avatar as boy-reporter in Land of the Soviets (1930) to his final, color-filled incarnation in

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