Reviews: Part 2.
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND
An Illustrated History Of A Walk On The Wild Side
By Jim DeRogatis
Price: US $30.00
Author Jim DeRogatis and Voyageur Press have done a really spectacular job of delivering one of the most beautifully executed “Art” books on one of rocks most influential groups. Legendary producer/musician Brian Eno once said, “only five thousand people bought a Velvet Underground album, but everyone one of them started a band.” That quote is probably truer than we’ll ever know and this book perfectly captures the spirit of the ground breaking insanity and revolutionary spirit that was the VU. We are treated to an in depth time line as to how the Velvets came to be, their involvement with Andy Warhol, and their short but supernova like career. This book is printed beautifully and each page is packed with great candid photos, posters and art. I was really surprised and how wonderful this whole package is and I look forward to many more releases from this inventive publishing house and talented and thoughtful authors like Mr. DeRogatis. Again, another must have for any music lover or historian!
SHOOT: Photography Of The Moment
By Ken Miller
Rizzoli New York
Price: US $45.00
This is a brilliant concept for a photography book and although I’m sure somewhere, somehow, someone may have tried to publish a book like this already, and I am also very sure they have failed miserably in comparison to this one. Shoot gathers over 20 photographers whose work focuses on capturing a moment rather than elaborate lighting setups or controlled, manufactured scenarios. Employing the most basic photographic tools—a single-lens reflex camera and natural light—they must rely on their instincts and their ability to interact with a situation to create a dynamic image. This freewheeling approach reflects an era in which we are increasingly bombarded by images, and the emotional resonance of images has become an important part of our visual vocabulary. The book documents the influence of an older generation of art photographers, such as the legendary Nan Goldin and Wolfgang Tillmans, and expands on a younger generation of photographers, including Tim Barber and J. H. Engström, to show how this style has gained traction and influence. As usual, I’ve said it time and again, no one does a more respectful job of presenting art and photography than Rizzoli, from the paper quality to the printing and design, they excel in every category, they are just a step above the rest in their concern for quality and presenting the very best product possible.
Extreme Beauty in Vogue
Edited by Phyllis Posnick, Contribution by Eva Respini
US Price: $55.00
ISBN: 978-88-572-0032-3 (88-572-
This book, published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same title (Milan, Spring 2009), is produced in collaboration with Dolce & Gabbana. Always audacious, sometimes outrageous, Vogue’s images distinguish themselves by their willingness to explore the limits of contemporary ideas of beauty and they are created by the greatest photographers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The one hundred or so featured prints reveal profoundly sensual and highly provocative narratives that bear witness to complex cultural attitudes toward female appearance and self-expression. From the neoclassical figures of Edward Steichen to the unconventional nudes of Annie Leibovitz, the aggressive portraiture of Helmut Newton, and the modernism of Steven Klein, the photographs in this volume consider the evolving female subject, in all her strength and contradiction. An entire section is devoted to Irving Penn, who transforms the face and body into images of extraordinary imaginative and aesthetic power. This is a book of extraordinary power. One must sit and stare at the works presented here to fully appreciate the strength of modern photography, and how the truly gifted photographers past and present equal any painter of any point in history. If one were to simply assume that because the word Vogue is on the spine of this book that it is just another vapid presentation of fashion photographs they would be sadly and tragically mistaken. This is a classic art book featuring some of the most beautiful and important art and artists of this or any other time.
A Performance By Lou Reed
Directed By Julian Schnabel
US Price: $45.00
Thirty plus years ago Lou Reed released what could be considered a “concept” album, his masterpiece Berlin. It was and remains to this very day one of the most powerful, emotional and disturbing works by Reed or any other artist for that matter. Berlin is dark, brooding, melodic, scary and wrenchingly listenable side to side. Reed has always been an artist working in the medium of sound, starting with the Velvet Underground and moving on to a solo career, which seems to have been steered by an acerbic captain who always guided a path towards superstardom and then shifted coarse at the last minute. To date, Reed’s biggest hit is Walk On The Wild Side a glam rock biography of the Warhol era, from the album TRANSFORMER produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson; a commercial success large and long lasting enough to afford Reed the room to continue to create on his own terms.
Fast forward a few decades and it seems as though Mr. Reed has rediscovered his passion for his own work by staging very limited and very sold out performances of Berlin in New York and Europe. Enter artist/director Julian Schnabel who was originally supposed to do some set design but really created the staging and you have to explosive artists with two explosive egos working together on an explosive piece of work. I think Julian Schnabel is gifted artist, but I think (and I’m sure I am not alone here) Schnabel is a genius director, in possession of a true and pure talent to see moving images, or images moving in his mind and capture them and breath life into them on film or stage, no, canvas is far to small and prohibitive and stagnant for his talents.
Berlin on stage was an experience that cant be accurately described here, but this beautiful book is as close as one can get to trying to feel the experience and mildly understand and absorb it. The photography is striking in its raw power, the words are simply timeless in their intuitiveness and the entire package design encapsulates everything perfectly. For me the most interesting part of the book is the lengthy interview with Reed and Schnabel. This is a glimpse into the minds of two men at the height of their creative powers, sharing thoughts ideas and giving an honest insight into the pressures of the collaborative process that weaker men would have collapsed from. Only Rizzoli could be the third in this artistic ménage’ a trios bringing their incomparable publishing gifts to this perfect book. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t appreciate this book; art or music lovers and even theater lovers will be enthralled.