Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blue Women Art - Yves Klein (1962)

"Yves the Provocateur: Yves Klein and Twentieth-Century Art"

Yves the Provocateur: Yves Klein and Twentieth-Century ArtYves the Provocateur: Yves Klein and Twentieth-Century Art by Thomas McEvilley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Remarkable biography (with some analysis of his work) on the artist Yves Klein.  A man who knew no bounds or restrictions.  A dandy as much as a black-belt Judo fanatic.  A man who jumped from a second or was it a third floor without fear.  A spoiled brat with great talent.  A man who had a temper problem which he tried to contain, and probably caused him his fatal heart problems.   Nevertheless I am always attracted to artists who have an amazing ego.  Does that affect their work?  Yes, but Klein was a different type of animal.  Totally on the go and extremely restless he had to explore the 'void' knowing that there is no end or maybe beginning.  This is not a large book, but an important and very much a readable study on this great French figure of the arts.

Yves Klein you rule!

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Lord Berner's Dresden"

DresdenDresden by Lord Gerald Hugh Tyrwitt-Wilson Berners
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A perfect little memoir of a particular time and place.  Lord Berners trip to Germany and his observations on the people, the culture and place in the early 20th Century.  Berners often thought of as a lunatic eccentric is a writer of great talent.  Mostly  known (if even that) as a British composer, was a remarkable writer of great wit and sense.   I highly recommend his "Collected Fantasies" but alas this 120 something page memoir is magnificent due to its focus on a particular time - and his comment regarding what Germany became is border line heart-breaking.  But this is a man trying to figure out what makes the German citizen tick - and more important his place in this particular culture.

His love of Nietzsche was a total head scratcher to the average German  - and that perplexed Berners to no end.  Often hysterical, this is a superb book.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

"The Gilt Kid" by James Curtis

The Gilt KidThe Gilt Kid by James Curtis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If not only a remarkable noir (and it is) "The Gilt Kid" is an important document of a certain type of crime underground life in London 1930's.   London is almost a character in itself in this novel, along with our anti-hero The Gilt Kid, called that because he's blonde.

A habit criminal who specializes in breaking into London flats and offices to steal, is sort of on an existential course between desire and living day-by-day.   He's lonely but can't articulate his world via language, but by action he sees each day as an adventure of sorts - but alas, a very limited adventure.  He basically can't see his future more than a few days at a time.

There is a Marxist bent in the story, because The Gilt Kid struggles with reading "Capital" but with little understanding, but he sort of gets the drift of it.  The classic aspect of the book is the focus on the side characters that he meets up on the streets of Soho.  Hardcore slang, lots of smoking and drinking milkey tea - along with the occasional brandy and various beers.  Its a dead-end street, but a road that is still colorful and kind of beautiful in a depressing way.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Anna Summa's "The Beautiful & The Damned"

The Beautiful & The DamnedThe Beautiful & The Damned by Kristine McKenna
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ah my youth.  I appreciate it now that I am rotting in old age.  But alas, the memory of what I was is very similar to what I am.    Ann Summa is a photographer who was at the right time (late 1970's to early 1980's) right place (Los Angeles) , and the right subject matter - contemporary punk era rock musicians.   Exene of X is for sure the star of the book, but lurking in the pages are images of the Underrated Screamers, The Alleycats, and various individuals who made up the punk scene in those beautiful days.

And no, I am not in the book, but alas I was in the audience for a lot of the shows that are represented by the likes of John Lydon (Rotten) and others.  Turning the pages of this beautiful designed book I almost fall into the past - but alas the future is bright and the present is not so bad.   I am happy that i was there, but now, equally happy here.

Some in the book are now gone, but not forgotten.  And like the character in the Cornell Woolrich novel who smashes his watch to remember a certain time to stand still ..... this book allows one to visit their past - and for those who don't share this past, at the very least its a group of beautiful portraits caught by the skills of Anna Summa.

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