THE REENCHANTMENT OF ART

One of the livelier critics of the contemporary art scene (Has Modernism Failed?, 1984—not reviewed) tries to trace the roots of the present crisis in aesthetics and to map out some ways of escape. Gablik's thesis is not original. ``Since the Enlightenment,'' she maintains, ``our view of what is real has been organized around the hegemony of a technological and materialist world view...we no longer have any sense of having a soul.'' Spirituality and ritual have been the first casualties of this attitude, but the most profound reordering, Gablick says, has occurred in the area of social relations, as the spread of individualistic philosophies has weakened or destroyed the cohesion of traditional communal structures—leading to the modern artist understanding his or her vocation in terms of the objects created rather than the audience addressed. If the artist has any awareness of the audience at all, it is usually seen as a hostile force to be either ignored or shocked (this is the lesson Gablik draws from Richard Serra's Tilted Arc controversy). What is needed, we are told, is an aesthetics of ``interaction and connection,'' in which the artist works to restore the lost harmony between humanity and earth, and to override the alienation of race, sex, and class. At this point Gablik's argument falls into New Age obscurantism and is weakened further in that most of the exemplars of her approach (sculptors who design carts for the homeless, photographers who document toxic-waste dumping, etc.) sound more like social workers or advocacy lawyers than artists. A valuable analysis that brings forth incredible conclusions. Gablick has apparently fallen into a deconstructionist vocabulary that allows her to play fast-and-loose with concepts of ``art'' and ``creation,'' resulting in a confusion little better than the one she set out to overcome. (Thirty-two illustrations.)

Pub Date: July 29, 1991

ISBN: 0-500-23619-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1991

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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