Culture & Criticism Since 2003
MARC CHAGALL. Jean-Michel Foray, Meret Meyer Graber, Jakov Bruk. Abrams. Chagall’s work is known through-out the world for its breadth and range and sharp use of color — an artist whose vision is spoken through the voice of paint and canvass, individualized and intricate, long shards of human flesh over-flowing in the idea of the soul. Marc Chagall, released last year by Abrams, captures nearly 150 reproductions of Chagall’s work, examining his motivations as both a painter and as a man. More than an artist immersed in style and genre, Chagall’s creations tell about himself and his own unique history — memory specks of early childhood used as fuel to feed the Muse that rendered this startling and vast body of work. Foray writes:
“It is a body of work that places the artist (the person of the artist – what he is thinking and feeling) at its center, thereby going against the grain of the dominant art movements, which sought to neutralize the creator … Chagall, through his work, strove to reinstitute art within a community, even if that meant transgressing the boundaries of modern art as a whole.”
What’s best about Chagall is the way it spreads the mouth of the mirror open to show us the amazing complexities of this man’s art. Even though scattered critics have said that some of Chagall’s paintings are ‘simple,’ it is the brilliant simplicity of the Eye of Chagall the artist that sets him apart from his contemporaries, revealing the depth of infinite layers. Like the poetry of William Carlos Williams, the transcendence of Chagall is in the way the image reshapes itself in the viewer’s mind: a torrent of emotion and inspiration consumes us as we explore and then re-explore these blood stains on paper and canvass — the blood of Chagall dripping from the transparent jaws of the night sky across the tangles branches of the dawn.
This wonderful book is appropriate for use as a text at the University level in undergraduate art classes. Also would useful as a general reference text in libraries at both the college level and in the public sector. A truly magnificent sampling of one the twentieth-century’s landmark artists.
Antoni Gaudi. Ignasi De Sola-Morales. Abrams. Gaudi traces the work of architect Antoni Gaudi and the impact his hand had on the city of Barcelona. The book includes magnificent photographs by Rafael Vargas that serve to revive Gaudi’s designs, filling them with the living light of color. Vargas’ pictures are wonderfully balanced in that they show not only the “structures,” but also speak to the deep vision of Gaudi. In the end, these pictures (like the shot of Casa Mila on page 110) memorialize the imagination of the artist and builder who helped to shape the complexion of this the old man of all the Spanish cities. Further, Sola-Morales analysis of Gaudi’s body of work is detailed and perceptive — not only looking at the architect’s work in terms of its impact on Spain but also illuminating its affect on other European cities. Sola-Morales writes with the sure-handed detail of a journalist, and readers will find his prose easy to digest and inspired. An elegant and classy statement on the work of Antoni Gaudi typical of the vast Abram’s catalog.
Appropriate as a design and architecture reference text in all college-level libraries. Also would be of interest to the general student of architecture.