A brilliant, intricate interpretation of modern art's progress as it reflects the dictates of the museum, by a Harvard professor of English. Fisher casts the art museum as the major interpreter of industrialized culture, countering the pull of mass production by designating what is unique and ``irreplaceable''—what counts as art. Indeed, the museum has changed the way we look at objects- -crucifix and Greek vase alike—by extricating them from their cultural context, ``effacing'' their intended meaning, and rearranging them in a time-line of art history. In Fisher's provocative view, the ``natural art'' for ``museum culture'' is abstract art, its ``essential subject matter'' the ``linear ordering and the cancellation of content,'' each museum functions. Jasper Johns and Frank Stella aim their art at the museum, their ambition to make it ``the future's past.'' Johns's paintings go so far as to mimic the museum, effacing our own cultural symbols- -numbers, letters, and the American flag—of their meaning and reworking them as shards and as art. The ``knowing and sophisticated'' Stella paints in ``series'' ``ready to be swallowed whole by art history.'' Fisher grounds what is complicated and narrowly focused but exceptionally accessible academic theory in Clement Greenberg, Michael Fried, and Meyer Shapiro, animating it with observations that stick: that all modern painting is about ``the stranger''; that ``it is memory rather than realism that photography drained from painting and sculpture''; that Degas conceals his shocking industrialization of the body by seeming to seize a bather's momentary pose; that our perception of the Parthenon frieze changes forever when fragments are brought down from their original elevated location to eye-level in a gallery. A ringing affirmation, in the company of Arthur Danto's Encounters and Reflections and Robert Hughes's Nothing if Not Critical (both 1990), that today art criticism is often contemporary art's most interesting aspect. (Forty-four illustrations—some seen.)
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
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").