An aura of making up for past neglect suffuses this complement to a retrospective of French artist-in-all-media Cocteau's work and image (he was one of the most depicted modern artists, by others as well as himself). Author after author of the volume's 16 thought-provoking essays says Cocteau (1891-1963) is near-criminally undervalued because of the ease of execution his clean, mobile line suggests and because he was openly homosexual. He exacerbated his underestimation by contributing to but not joining the great art movements of his heyday--dada and surrealism, in particular--and by deferring to Picasso, to the point of worship, as the greatest modern artist. His style and matter recall the great Spaniard's, but where Picasso is heavy and carnal, Cocteau is light and sexy (often explicitly). His films, especially Le Sang d'un poete
, La Belle et le Bete
, and orphee
, may be his finest achievements. Although the book sadly lacks an index and data about the many names cited and seen in passing, the 500-plus illustrations make it invaluable. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Dominique Paini is chief curator of the Cocteau exhibition at the Centre Pompidou.