PRINT March 1967



Edward Ruscha, Every Building on the Sunset Strip (Privately Printed, Los Angeles), 27' long (when unfolded), boxed.

TWENTY-SIX GASOLINE STATIONS (see Artforum, v. II #3, pg. 57) turns out to have been the first of a series of “little books” privately produced by Los Angeles artist Edward Ruscha. It was followed by Various Small Fires and Milk (photographs of various small fires and a glass of milk at the end), Some Los Angeles Apartments (photos of some Los Angeles apartment buildings) and now, Every Building on the Sunset Strip (photographs of every building on the Sunset Strip). As in the former books, the text is limited to the most basic identifying information, in this case, the house numbers. They are all a joy—but why?

The publications continue to bewilder even those who own “complete sets.” No one has any idea of what the author (?) is doing or trying to do. Those who have had the opportunity to question him receive answers that only add to the uneasiness: asked why he had bothered to make a book containing photographs of 26 common gasoline stations, Ruscha replied: “Why, I was bringing the news. No one knew about those gasoline stations.” When asked (Artforum, v. III #5, pg. 24) why the last page of Various Small Fires contained a photograph of a glass of milk, the answer was, “Milk seemed to make the book more interesting and gave it cohesion.” No question seems to be relevant, no answer seems to provide information.

Participants in this bizarre adventure (that small group who “collect” the books) nevertheless look forward to the publication of each book with a delight that is as inexplicable as the books themselves. Every Building on the Sunset Strip is the most elaborate of the books to date. Sometime around 1984 Son of Various Small Fires will probably be a best-seller.

Alfred Barr, Matisse, His Art and His Public, 590 pages, illustrated; James Thrall Soby, Giorgio de Chirico, 267 pages, illustrated; Alfred Barr, Cubism and Abstract Art, 249 pages, illustrated. All originally published by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and reprinted in 1966 by Arno Press, New York.

THERE ARE THREE OF SOME fifteen out-of-print volumes originally published by the Museum of Modern Art and now reprinted by photo-offset by the Arno Press. The texts are among the classics in the bibliography of modern art, and their renewed availability is a welcome event. Their use however, in the reprint editions, must be primarily restricted to students and others digging in the text for particular information; the quality of the printing is so low, and the reproductions so wretchedly re-reproduced that all of the illustrations are a travesty and virtually worthless.

Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans (Something Else Press, New York), 925 pages.

THIS IS A A RE-ISSUING of the original 1925 edition, and the first edition to be offered in some forty years. Along with their re-issue of Richard Huelsenbeck’s Dada Almanach in the original German some time ago, The Making of Americans is by far the most spectacularly un-commercial venture so far undertaken by this generally dauntlessly uncommercial small press. Consistently over the past few years the Something Else Press has been documenting some of the most interesting developments in the theater and in Happenings, publishing Al Hansen’s Primer of Happenings and Time/Space Art, four texts by Benjamin Patterson, Philip Corner, Alison Knowles and Tomas Schmit called The Four Suits, and, one of the most audacious and interesting critiques of contemporary theater in recent memory, Dick Higgins’s, Post-face and Jefferson’s Birthday. Art libraries would do well to pass up the next fifty-dollar multi-colored version of “Picasso at Work and Play” and buy instead the complete list of Something Else Press publications so far released.

Maurice Rheims, The Flowering of Art Nouveau (Abrams, New York), 450 pages, illustrated.

A BEAUTIFUL BOOK, richly illustrated with a lucid, intelligent text. The book ranges over all aspects of the Art Nouveau phenomenon, from architecture to machinery.

John Jacobus, Twentieth-Century Architecture, The Middle Years (Praeger, New York), 213 pages, illustrated.

ONE OF THE MOST thorough examinations of the architecture of this century yet to appear, by one of the most able architectural historians currently working in the field.

Frederick Kiesler, Inside the Endless House (Simon and Schuster, New York), 576 pages, illustrated.

The journals of Frederick Kiesler, from 1956 to 1964. The book was designed by Kiesler himself; his prose is good, his anecdotes rich and his histories of confrontations with architectural clients are treasures of wry agony.

New Art Around the World, Abrams, 509 pages, illustrated.

Paul Cummings, Dictionary of Contemporary American Artists (St. Martin’s Press, New York), 331 pages, illustrated.

Walter Erben, Marc Chagall (Praeger, New York), 166 pages, plus illustrations.

Michael Levey, Rococo to Revolution (Praeger, New York), 252 pages, 67 illustrated.