The questionable premise of this data-packed book is that the avant-garde is dead, that the isolated artist spurned by a ridiculing public no longer exists, and that today challenging art is readily brought into mainstream venues. Altshuler, director of the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum in New York City, focuses on 19 exhibitions held between 1905 and 1969, when the avant-garde was still alive. He covers, among other movements, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, the Blaue Reiter, Dada, Action Painting, and Pop, ending with the ``When Attitudes Become Form'' show at the Bern, Switzerland, Kunsthalle, devoted to the work of conceptual artists like Joseph Kosuth, Joseph Beuys, and Richard Artschwager. Altshuler notes that by the late '60s the art- loving public had come not just to tolerate difficult art, but to ``crave'' it. The story of the 20th-century artistic avant-garde is hardly unfamiliar. For years, the permanent collection of New York City's Museum of Modern Art followed the same time line as Attshuler's; also Robert Hughes covered similar ground in The Shock of the New (1981). But Altshuler emphasizes the intense battles artists fought to bring their work into the public eye; many of the century's ground-breaking shows, like the ``First Exhibition of the Editors of the Blaue Reiter'' (Munich, 1911), were organized by the artists themselves and financed by the group's wealthier members. The author describes a group in Japan, the little-known Gutai Art Association, whose activities were funded by Jiro Yoshihara, head of a cooking-oil empire. But unlike today's corporate sponsors, Yoshihara kept company with his artists and felt deeply about their work. Altshuler provides a fascinating account of ``Gutai's Experimental Outdoor Modern Art Exhibition to Challenge the Burning Midsummer Sun'' (outside of Osaka, 1955), showing how that work anticipated process, performance, and conceptual art. While Altshuler does raise valid points, his argument neglects today's increasingly conservative climate for art funding; many avant-garde artists whose grants have recently been withdrawn or their applications denied might feel less than coddled and coopted.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8109-3637-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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