Sinks under the weight of the author's sincerity.

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THIS IS BURNING MAN

THE RISE OF A NEW AMERICAN UNDERGROUND

A frequent attendee takes a look at the nation’s wildest anarchist arts festival.

After establishing that there’s no way to accurately describe the frenzied, weeklong bacchanal of Burning Man, Reason magazine associate editor Doherty takes the most conventional route to introduce readers to this nearly 20-year-old annual party. It takes place near Gerlach, Nevada, a site chiefly known for its astonishing emptiness. Before Burning Man came to town, the dry lakebed landscape was chiefly used to conduct automobile speed tests. Now, free spirits roll through once a year to camp out, build enormous art installations, stay up late and party, and then burn their work at the end of the week in celebration of anticommercialism. Unfortunately, this feeling of wild abandon is absent from Doherty’s text as he plods through Burning Man’s history, from its origins as a minor ritual for a few intellectual San Francisco carpenters to its current incarnation as an LLC. Beginning with the story of the festival’s founder, Larry Harvey, the author introduces the reader to the many outsized personalities and arts collectives that have joined through the years to make the festival what it is today. With such a large, revolving cast of founders and supporters, however, the reader is hard-pressed to keep the characters straight. The festival’s evolution from a casual party to a highly orchestrated event does provide for some interesting moments; the scheme to store tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of proceeds in Ziploc baggies in a giant underground hole seems quintessential. Still, despite Doherty's many attempts to convey the sense of community and wonder that so many participants (and he himself) express, the reader is left with a single general impression of artistically inclined social dropouts who like to play with flamethrowers.

Sinks under the weight of the author's sincerity.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2004

ISBN: 0-316-71154-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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A dazzling visual homage to a music icon gone too soon.

MY NAME IS PRINCE

A Los Angeles–based photographer pays tribute to a legendary musician with anecdotes and previously unseen images collected from their 25-year collaboration.

St. Nicholas (co-author: Whitney: Tribute to an Icon, 2012, etc.) first met Prince in 1991 at a prearranged photo shoot. “The dance between photographer and subject carried us away into hours of inspired photographs…and the beginning of a friendship that would last a lifetime.” In this book, the author fondly remembers their many professional encounters in the 25 years that followed. Many would be portrait sessions but done on impulse, like those in a burned-out Los Angeles building in 1994 and on the Charles Bridge in Prague in 2007. Both times, the author and Prince came together through serendipity to create playfully expressive images that came to represent the singer’s “unorthodox ability to truly live life in the moment.” Other encounters took place while Prince was performing at Paisley Park, his Minneapolis studio, or at venues in LA, New York, Tokyo, and London. One in particular came about after the 1991 release of Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls album and led to the start of St. Nicholas’ career as a video director. Prince, who nurtured young artists throughout his career, pushed the author to “trust my instincts…expand myself creatively.” What is most striking about even the most intimate of these photographs—even those shot with Mayte Garcia, the fan-turned–backup dancer who became Prince’s wife in 1996—is the brilliantly theatrical quality of the images. As the author observes, the singer was never not the self-conscious artist: “Prince was Prince 24/7.” Nostalgic and reverential, this book—the second St. Nicholas produced with/for Prince—is a celebration of friendship and artistry. Prince fans are sure to appreciate the book, and those interested in art photography will also find the collection highly appealing.

A dazzling visual homage to a music icon gone too soon.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-293923-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Clear journalistic prose makes sense of the befuddling legal entanglements in an ongoing battle that has become notorious in...

ART HELD HOSTAGE

THE BATTLE OVER THE BARNES COLLECTION

American Lawyer deputy editor Anderson chronicles the legal contests over the administration of America’s largest private art collection.

The author begins with a fair portrait of Dr. Albert C. Barnes, amasser of the famous Barnes Collection and creator of the eponymous foundation charged with its preservation. Barnes received his medical degree at 20 and went on to wrest control of a pharmaceutical company that owned exclusive rights to manufacture an internationally prescribed gonorrhea medicine. (His signature style throughout his life was to hire first-rate legal counsel and pursue his litigious course until he got what he wanted.) Barnes’s fortune, preserved through the Depression, permitted the assembly of a fabulous collection that included 180 Renoirs; it’s currently valued at six billion dollars. Just before his death in 1951, the doctor changed the terms of the foundation’s indenture, granting control to the trustees of Lincoln College, the oldest black college in America, setting the stage for a long round of disputes. While the collection gained tremendously in value over the next four decades, the size of the endowment that paid for the upkeep of the French Renaissance palace that housed it dwindled through mismanagement. In the 1990s, foundation president Richard H. Glanton, a high-profile African-American lawyer, oversaw the galleries’ renovation and undertook the expensive litigation responsible for bringing the foundation to the edge of ruin. Anderson describes these conflicts in a work that by his own admission is “a legal tale” rather than a scholarly biography or a work of art history. The absence of footnotes, he explains, springs from the desire of his best sources to remain anonymous. That’s not surprising, considering the rancor all this legal wrangling has generated, including a lawsuit over a parking lot instituted in federal court that invoked the Ku Klux Klan Act.

Clear journalistic prose makes sense of the befuddling legal entanglements in an ongoing battle that has become notorious in the art world and beyond. (16 illustrations)

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-393-04889-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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