A loving survey of an artist’s varied career.

THE ART OF SYMEON SHIMIN

Editor Tonia Shimin assembles essays and images that span the rich career of her late father, the painter Symeon Shimin.

The book’s opening section is a brief autobiographical essay that Symeon Shimin wrote before his death in 1984. In it, he spends little time on the subject of painting, focusing instead on his family life. He was born in Astrakhan, Russia, in 1902 and wanted to be a musician as a child; he idolized his uncle Eli, who was a composer. In 1912, the family moved to New York City. As he pursued his art, representational drawing came to him easily, and his first studies were on paper bags from his father’s new delicatessen. The second essay, by critic Josef Woodard, provides a fine portrait of Shimin’s artistic life and takes time to appreciate the artist’s illustrations for movie posters and children’s books. But to Woodard, these finely executed projects prevented Shimin from pursuing more worthwhile works like his Contemporary Justice and the Child, “a landmark mural” in the U.S. Department of Justice building. In the final essay, arts journalist Charles Donelan fastidiously moves through Shimin’s oeuvre, presenting a notion of the artist as a “passionate observer” and “humanist” whose representational paintings were underappreciated when abstract works dominated art markets. Together, the three essays achieve an edifying balance with Shimin’s intimate reflection, Woodard’s steady survey, and Donelan’s academic appreciation. The rest of the book consists of reproductions, ably arranged to showcase Shimin's virtuosity and beautifully highlight his career-spanning fascination with the human form. The reprints of studies for Contemporary Justice are a highlight, revealing the minute strokes of brilliance that contributed to a coherent whole. A glowing reprint of Shimin’s later painting The Pack shows the artist’s knack for chaotic ensemble, as does Discussion Group (I), reprinted across two facing pages. In her acknowledgments, Tonia Shimin says that she intended the book as a “tribute to the work of my father”; it is, and it also underscores the skills of its editor.

A loving survey of an artist’s varied career.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9990342-2-4

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Mercury Press International

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

A scrupulously honest and consistently thoughtful love letter to “the most intense form of reading…there is.”

TRANSLATING MYSELF AND OTHERS

The acclaimed author and translator offers thoughts on the latter art and craft.

A Pulitzer Prize–winning author of fiction in English, Lahiri moved to Rome in 2012 to immerse herself in Italian. Since then, she has published both a memoir and fiction in Italian and translated several works from Italian to English. This volume collects several pieces written over the past seven years—her translators’ notes to the novels Ties (2017), Trick (2018), and Trust (2021) by Italian writer (and friend) Domenico Starnone; stand-alone essays; and lectures and addresses—as well as an original introduction and afterword. A few themes emerge: Lahiri frequently returns to Ovid and Metamorphoses, most notably in her lecture “In Praise of Echo” and her moving afterword, which recounts her process of translating Ovid as her mother declined and died; metaphors of immigration and migration—Lahiri is both the daughter of Bengali-speaking Indian immigrants and an immigrant herself, twice over—ground other musings. Possibly the most provocative piece is “Where I Find Myself”—on the process of translating her own novel Dove mi trovo, from the original Italian into English as Whereabouts (2021)—an essay that finds her first questioning the ethics of self-translation (probed with a surgical metaphor) and then impelled to make revisions for a second Italian edition. The weakest essay is “Traduzione (stra)ordinaria / (Extra)ordinary Translation,” an appreciation of Italian revolutionary and thinker Antonio Gramsci, whose Letters From Prison reveal a linguist as ferociously compelled to investigate the process of translation as Lahiri herself. Composed originally as remarks for a panel, it reads like an elegantly annotated list of bullet points that will have readers wishing Lahiri had revised it into a cohesive essay. Readers may also find themselves envious of the author’s students of translation at Princeton, but this sharp collection will have to do. Two essays originally composed in Italian are printed in the original in an appendix.

A scrupulously honest and consistently thoughtful love letter to “the most intense form of reading…there is.”

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-691-23116-7

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more