Artfully developed tale of uncommon people and some photographs once lost.

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HUBERT’S FREAKS

THE RARE-BOOK DEALER, THE TIMES SQUARE TALKER, AND THE LOST PHOTOS OF DIANE ARBUS

An antiquarian book dealer explores the nexus of a Times Square dime museum and the art-photo market.

At the heart of the sideshow business in New York until the mid 1960s, Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus was often celebrated, most notably by the New Yorker’s A.J. Liebling and Joseph Mitchell—to both of whom Gibson (Demon of the Waters: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Whaleship Globe, 2002, etc.) dedicates this book. For many years, Hubert’s manager and “talker” (“barker” to the rubes) was dignified Charlie Lucas, an African-American who frequently doubled as a savage warrior chief or as WooFoo, the “Immune Man.” Lucas also performed a Dance of Love with his attractive wife, a snake charmer billed as Princess Sahloo or sometimes simply Woogie. He stored his odd, wonderful journal and sideshow ephemera along with a stash of photos in a trunk that, after his death, eventually came into the possession of Bob Langmuir, an acquisitive and paranoid Philadelphia book dealer. Langmuir determined that the photos were the work of Diane Arbus, who had been introduced by Lucas to many of her subjects, including diminutive Andy Potato Chips, tattooed Jack Dracula and Congo the Jungle Creep. Gibson deftly tells the story of the collection’s acquisition by Langmuir, the authentication of the pictures as Arbus’s work and the efforts to value, display and market them. He novelistically chronicles the burdens of discovery and ownership, entwining these topics with such additional themes as the unraveling of personality, the rigors of love (requited or not) and marriage (functional or not). He brings together eccentric character studies, oddball action on old 42nd Street and complex art-world maneuvers to yield some classic Americana. The Arbus/Hubert’s collection is scheduled for international exhibition and a New York auction in April.

Artfully developed tale of uncommon people and some photographs once lost.

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-101233-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2008

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

HOW TO BE AN ARTIST

A noted critic advises us to dance to the music of art.

Senior art critic at New York Magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, Saltz (Seeing Out Louder, 2009, etc.) became a writer only after a decadeslong battle with “demons who preached defeat.” Hoping to spare others the struggle that he experienced, he offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, “How can I be an artist?” and who “take that leap of faith to rise above the cacophony of external messages and internal fears.” In a slim volume profusely illustrated with works by a wide range of artists, Saltz encourages readers to think, work, and see like an artist. He urges would-be artists to hone their power of perception: “Looking hard isn’t just about looking long; it’s about allowing yourself to be rapt.” Looking hard yields rich sources of visual interest and also illuminates “the mysteries of your taste and eye.” The author urges artists to work consistently and early, “within the first two hours of the day,” before “the pesky demons of daily life” exert their negative influence. Thoughtful exercises underscore his assertions. To get readers thinking about genre and convention, for example, Saltz presents illustrations of nudes by artists including Goya, Matisse, Florine Stettheimer, and Manet. “Forget the subject matter,” he writes, “what is each of these paintings actually saying?” One exercise instructs readers to make a simple drawing and then remake it in an entirely different style: Egyptian, Chinese ink-drawing, cave painting, and the styles of other artists, like Keith Haring and Georgia O’Keeffe. Freely experiment with “different sizes, tools, materials, subjects, anything,” he writes. “Don’t resist something if you’re afraid it’s taking you far afield of your usual direction. That’s the wild animal in you, feeding.” Although much of his advice is pertinent to amateur artists, Saltz also rings in on how to navigate the art world, compose an artist’s statement, deal with rejection, find a community of artists, and beat back demons. Above all, he advises, “Work, Work, Work.”

A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08646-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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