Not only an essential record of the first 40 years of Calder’s life, but an exceptional chronicle of the genesis of...

CALDER

THE CONQUEST OF TIME: THE EARLY YEARS: 1898-1940

A meticulously researched biography of one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century.

New York Review of Books contributor and former New Republic art critic Perl (Art History/New School for Social Research; Magicians and Charlatans: Essays on Art and Culture, 2012, etc.) chronicles how Alexander Calder (1898-1976) grew from a crafty boy into a master sculptor who, along with Picasso and Miró, pushed the world of art toward the frontiers of modernism. Calder wrote of “trying to get at ‘evolution’ [from] toys to sculpture,” and Perl divines exactly this thread amid a tremendous amount of source material and shows the progression from Calder’s tinkering childhood to the celebrated, clowning Cirque Calder of the 1920s, all the way to Calder’s inclusion in the Museum of Modern Art’s epochal exhibitions “Cubism and Abstract Art” and “Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism” of the mid-1930s. The author unveils a network of Calder’s influences. “Artistic inspiration,” he writes, “involves instincts, apprehensions, and revelations ranging from the subliminal to the nearly spiritual, and the zigzagging, even ricocheting connections need to be mapped in ways that defy strict rules of evidence.” Calder’s parents were both artists, and although they encouraged him to pursue a degree in engineering, they also exposed him to art that would later shape his career. Duchamp’s 1912 painting Nude Descending a Staircase, for example, possessed a kineticism that would eventually contribute to Calder’s understanding of the vast conceptual capabilities of art. With wire fashioned into spirals and mobiles gently spinning through the air, Calder’s lines would later adopt a sense of movement over time, a fourth-dimensional change through a three-dimensional space. Most triumphant is the way in which Perl explains how to read Calder’s challenging forms; he clearly discusses the “difference between a volume and a void” and “the disparity that exists between form, masses and movement.” “Sculpture could be a matter of lines,” he explains, capable of synthesizing “science with sensibility, the engineered with the empathetic.”

Not only an essential record of the first 40 years of Calder’s life, but an exceptional chronicle of the genesis of modernism.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-307-27272-0

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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