COLUMNS

  • Film

    Dog Star Man: Part I

    DOG STAR MAN—THE FIRST 16 MILLIMETER EPIC: In Dog Star Man (part one) Stan Brakhage learns from his two earlier films Prelude and Anticipation of the Night.* The other debt in evidence is that the beautiful shots of the beard­ed hero’s face and some scenes of mountain, cliff, and forest or solitary green fir bough sweeping in the wind are reminiscent of moments of Eisen­stein’s Ivan. In Ivan the striking scenes, printed on memory, are the broodings of Ivan’s face from the sum­mit of a crag while he looks down upon a medieval city or holds soliloquy with his soul as the camera comes in for a

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  • Books

    Art: USA: now

    Art: USA: now, edited by Lee Nord­ness, text by Allen S. Weller (New York: Viking), 1963.

    2 volumes, 475 pages, illustrated.

    “THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED to

    Mr. and Mrs. H. F. Johnson,

    who, had they been asked,

    would have insisted it be dedicated

    instead to the American artist.”

    Probably not. A much more likely sug­gestion might have been:

    For Fibber McGee and Molly

    Who Made All This Possible

    For Mr. H. F. Johnson, of course, is the Chairman of S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc., better known to radio and TV listeners as “The Johnson’s Wax Company,” who one day invited Mr. Nordness “for a luncheon in which the

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  • Books

    François Stahly

    Francois Stahly, edited by Walter Herdeg, introduction by Carola Giedion-Welck­er (New York: Wittenborn & Co.), 1963. 83 pages, illustrated.

    A HANDSOME BOOK, broadly presenting the many phases of Stahly’s career in a series of excellent photographs.

    Stahly’s work in conjunction with architectural commissions is among his most interesting. If the writhing, or­ganic shapes of some of his fountains lose some of their impact in being fountains, the force of his forms be­come even more intensified in those commissions where he is permitted to work in a more integrated way with the architect. The stucco

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  • Books

    The Fauves

    Jean-Paul Crespelle, The Fauves (Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society), 1962. 351 pages, illustrated.

    GAUGUIN AND VAN GOGH, though they disagreed about almost everything, shared a common dissatisfaction with the state of painting as it had been handed to them by the Impressionists. The Impressionist concern with light, with fidelity to nature, “with what the eye sees,” led directly in the opposite direction from what had become to both men most important: the painting as painting, color as color, and, above all, the painting as an expression of the independent vision of the artist. If the

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  • Books

    Dore Ashton’s The Unknown Shore

    Dore Ashton, The Unknown Shore (Boston & Toronto: Little, Brown & Co., 1962), 265 pages, Illus.

    ALTHOUGH DORE ASHTON HAS BEEN closely involved with avant-garde American painting for many years—particularly as a critic for the New York Times—it should be borne in mind that this book comes late. Almost two decades have passed since the emergence of the great painters of the New York School, and a good deal of critical analysis has seen its way to print. Still another analysis, coming this late, would be expected to be less breathless, less sketchy, would have to justify its existence, would have,

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  • Books

    Books

    Felix Brunner, A Handbook of Graphic Reproduction Processes (Teufen, Switzerland: Arthur Niggli Ltd.), 1962. 329 pages.

    IF ONE IS TO BUY A PRINT in today’s market with a reasonable assurance that he is not being cheated, he must carry his hand magnifier, and be prepared to understand what he sees through it. Which may involve a reasonably good grasp of details like this:

    In the usual aquatint the unprotected parts of the metal are etched to a uniform degree. This causes an even grey surface in the print. In the hand photogravure technique, the gelatine relief prevents the mordant from biting to
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  • Books

    Germain Bazin’s The Loom of Art

    The Loom Of Art: By Germain Bazin. Simon & Schuster, N.Y., 1962. 328 Pp., Illus.

    The large, expensive art books are, for the most part, like nothing so much as our big, beautiful, blonde leading ladies of the screen. Dressed up in breathtaking technicolor, worked over from head to toe by hairdressers, cosmeticians, and other assorted perfection-makers, they are given a jumble of meaningless lines to recite, and presented to the world. At first sight, they are dazzling; later, they pall.

    This one is different. The usual perfection of layout, designed to increase our appreciation of expensiveness,

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  • Books

    Books Received: The Best in Arts: Arts Yearbook 6 and The Bitter Years, 1935–41

    The Best in Arts: Arts Yearbook 6, edited by James R. Mellow (New York: Horizon Press), 1962. 168 pp. illus.

    THIS YEAR’S ARTS YEARBOOK takes the form of Mr. Mellow’s selection of articles published in Arts Magazine from the period 1956–1961. Included is Sidney Geist’s fine welcome of “A New Sculptor: Mark Di Suvero,” and a remarkable article on the Suprematist and Constructivist movements in Russia, “Avant-Garde and Revolution,” by K. A. Jelenski, which Arts was keen enough to have translated from the Polish-language “Kultura,” in 1960.

    The best in Arts has always been Hilton Kramer, and the best

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  • 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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