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Ferdinand Preiss: Art Deco Sculptor--The Fire and the Flame
Ferdinand Preiss: Art Deco Sculptor--The Fire and the Flame
by Alberto Shayo
Edition: Hardcover
29 used & new from $52.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Priceless Preiss, May 27, 2016
I've always regarded Demetre Chiparus and Ferdinand Preiss (1882-1943) as the leading artists of the Art Deco statuette genre. They both specialised in producing exquisite figures made from cast bronze and carved ivory for faces and limbs not covered by the clothing. Though both artists created similar statuettes their styles were different, Chiparus provided plenty of detail on the clothing of his dancing ladies while Preiss was more concerned with movement and energy and his work had very precise ivory carvings of faces and hands. Page eight has twelve close-ups of faces showing how much detail is possible with ivory.

Alberto Shayo's illustrated essay in the book's first seventy pages covers the life of Preiss, his training as an ivory carver and successful partnership with Arthur Kassler, their company signed works with a P and K in a circle. Preiss worked in Berlin surrounded by the creative atmosphere of the city during the twenties. Shayo considers a 1914 statue called 'Youth' as the start of the Preiss style, a slender nude athletic female with up-stretched arms. It remained a popular line from the P&K studio and continued to be produced throughout the twenties. The book has several photos of nude statues in classical Greek poses and also many examples of clothed females in outdoor pursuits like skating, tennis, swimming, golf.

It probably wasn't Preiss' intention that these reflected the importance the Nazi Party attributed to physical culture, youth and beauty. To remain in business in the thirties Preiss had to join the Reichkulturkammer though he was never a party member. As the decade ended bronze became scarce, exports to Britain were forbidden (the most important market for P&K's work) with the last bronze and ivory statue made in 1940, though work continued only using ivory. In 1943 Preiss died in Berlin from a brain tumour, he was sixty-one.

I think this can be regarded as the best book about the beautiful work of Ferninand Preiss, there are over a hundred whole page photos and according to the dimensions in the captions many are life size. Alberto Shayo has written a similar book about Chiparus, also published by the ACC.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 27, 2016 6:19 AM PDT

Complete Columbia & Rca Victor Albums Collection
Complete Columbia & Rca Victor Albums Collection
Offered by Fulfillment Express US
Price: $29.36
41 used & new from $22.54

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The meaning of Art, May 23, 2016
After you've bought the three box sets of Art Blakey's Blue Note output (all together twelve CDs containing twenty-four LPs on the budget line Enlightenment label) you might consider this interesting Blakey box. Eight CDs with just over eight and half hours of East Coast fifties bop from 1956 to 1959. The clear winner here is the Columbia 'The Jazz Messengers' with Hank Mobley, Donald Byrd, Horace Silver, Doug Watkins and Blakey. The seven tracks on the original LP are supplemented with another five from the session. The playing by everyone is superb.

These four LPs: Hard bop; Drum suite; Jazz Messengers play My fair lady, Brigadoon, Paint your wagon; Night in Tunisia are studio sessions with various young musicians that made up the Messengers in the late fifties into the sixties.

The last three CDs are Paris club and concert tracks from 1958 and '59. The Messengers at the Club St. Germain is two CDs that were originally issued as three LPs on French RCA. CD eight is the Messengers in concert at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees. This must have been some concert because the playing and tension it creates is extraordinary, especially some exceptional playing from Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter on ten minutes of 'Lester left town'.

The CDs are in reduced versions of the original LP sleeves, front and back. Each CD has extra tracks and a twenty-four page booklet gives comprehensive details of tracks, musicians and dates. Art Blakey's Columbia and RCA sessions are not quite as good as his Blue Note work (that was given extra punch by recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder) but there is some wonderful jazz on these discs.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 26, 2016 9:00 AM PDT

Trump's America: The Complete Loser's Guide
Trump's America: The Complete Loser's Guide
by Scott Dikkers
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.04
50 used & new from $11.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trump this, May 20, 2016
Extremely timely and incredibly funny especially if he doesn't meander into the White House because you will then see what you missed in The Donald's Land of the Free. The eleven chapters reveal it all and nothing is left out, for example: The environment: Hippie crap; The military: "Are these the biggest missiles we have?"; Science: "If Einstein was so smart, why wasn't he rich?"; Your life: A study in losing.

One thing that makes the humor work so well is the design. A square book with lots of cleverly thought out graphics and visual goodies working well with Scott Dikkers text. So, read all about the forth coming Trumpocracy or is that Trumpocalypse.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2016 3:05 AM PDT

The Gatefold Book of Fire Engines- Imported (from China)
The Gatefold Book of Fire Engines- Imported (from China)
by Clifford T. Jones
Edition: Hardcover
27 used & new from $0.42

5.0 out of 5 stars A five alarm fire book, May 20, 2016
Originally UK published in 1999 and with only thirty-six pages but when you see the book you'll realize that these are huge foldout pages (thirty-five inches wide) of thirty-six American and British fire engines and they look superb.

Each engine has been photographed as a profile shot and cutout on the white page, for example the American LaFrance 700 is two foot wide. There is also front and rear shot plus additional close-ups of dashboards and equipment, these photos work because they were all taken by Mike Schram so all the color looks uniform. The text has a brief description of each engine plus comprehensive tech specs.

Obviously not up to date, the last truck is an AEC Merryweather from 1967 with the first a 1920 Prospect/Ford but this book of wonderful foldouts will interest any fire engine fan.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2016 3:06 AM PDT

Statuettes of the Art Deco Period
Statuettes of the Art Deco Period
by Alberto Shayo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $80.38
24 used & new from $56.44

5.0 out of 5 stars The ladies dance on and on..., May 15, 2016
Alberto Shayo makes an interesting point in the book's preface, there is no comprehensive catalogue of these statuettes because they were considered decorative pieces rather than art and though he doesn't mention it the fact that they were made in sizeable editions suggests commercialism rather than creativity. However, with the passing of the decades there is a growing interest in these delightful figures and the book will be useful to collectors as an excellent overview of the leading artists.

Twenty-four pages in the front of the book has an illustrated essay: The allure of Art Deco. This gives a brief description of the artistic influences that inspired craftsmen, mainly French, from 1914 to 1939 to make the female dancer into a distinctive style. The Plates section (211 pages) alphabetically lists the artists with a short biography and a selection of their work, oddly these pages don't necessarily reflect their importance. Chiparus only gets two photos despite being the leading artist in this field though he has twenty-four in the sepia printed catalogue section of the book (and the author has written the definitive book about Chiparus, recently published by the ACC) Preiss only gets two but Le Faguays gets eleven, Charol fourteen and Goddard twelve. I found the Plates section rather impressive because of the excellent color photos of the statues. The book's back pages, apart from an in-depth Index has fifty-three pages reproducing Les Neveux de Jules Lehmann (LNJL) twenties and thirties catalog pages. This Paris foundry and dealer made and displayed the leading artists until 1939.

Alberto Shayo has edited a fascinating book about one aspect of Art Deco style.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 15, 2016 3:02 AM PDT

Chiparus: Master of Art Deco
Chiparus: Master of Art Deco
by Alberto Shayo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $98.50
33 used & new from $76.25

5.0 out of 5 stars The dancing ladies man, May 15, 2016
This book is the second the author has written on Chiparus, the first was published in 1993 (reprinted in 1999) with 216 pages and commands remarkably high prices second-hand. Fortunately this new book has a lot more pages and visual content and I expect it will become the standard work on this remarkable artist.

Chipartus (1886-1947) though born in Romania is really part of that wonderful French, or should that be Parisian, Art Decorative movement inspired by the cities 1925 International Exposition. The book reproduces dozens of his statues based on themes from the Ballet Russes, Paris music halls, Egypt plus the 1922 opening of Tutankhamun's tomb and the art of the Orient. The dancing female figure was a Chiparus staple and classed as chryselephantine sculpture made from ivory and bronze, used because it could fill the smallest detail in a mould. An initial plasteline model was made (several of these are shown in the book with a page reference to the finished statue) and given to a foundry to cast in bronze, an ivory-carving workshop created the faces and other parts of the body not covered by clothing then all the pieces were screwed together for the final statue.

I found the reference to the foundry ivory-carving workshop interesting, it implies that a statue cast several times would have identical bronze clothing but the faces could be very slightly different because they were individual carved from ivory. On page 171 there is a photo of ‘Les girls’, five dancers with just their faces and hands in ivory, each face within the five is similar but not identical, other castings of the statue would have slight changes to each face, too.

Chiparus , not content with creating stunning figurines, wanted them to stand on an appropriate base, usually made from onyx or marble and carved into various abstract shapes. Looking through the book there doesn’t seem to be any repeated bases and the text mentions that the same statue available on a different base. Also a statue could be in two different sizes.

Throughout his life Chiparus was known as a sculpture but the book’s back pages reveal some other aspects of his creativity with examples of oil paintings, ceramics and terracotta work. I found these all rather bland when compared to his exquisite dancing ladies.

The book is a large, handsome (and heavy) production with three hundred colour illustrations beautifully printed on a matt art paper. No doubt soon to become the standard work on Mister Art Deco.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 15, 2016 4:32 AM PDT

Gag On This: The Scrofulous Cartoons of Charles Rodrigues
Gag On This: The Scrofulous Cartoons of Charles Rodrigues
by Charles Rodrigues
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.72
55 used & new from $18.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charles Rodrigues was an equal opportunity cartoonist, he offended everyone, April 30, 2016
If you remember his cartoons in the National Lampoon, from 1970 to 1993 you can relive the laughs with this chunky square book containing several hundred drawings. There is no doubt that he took advantage of every human foible, mental and physical so if you are incredibly sensitive, easily shocked or a paid up member of the religious Right I think you should avoid this book.

Not only great humor but wonderful, scratchy drawings done with pen and ink, I think his style added to the outrageousness of the jokes, his hand-lettering was pretty cool, too. Charles Rodrigues (1926-2004) was unique, the man who could find humor in any human tragedy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 30, 2016 8:26 AM PDT

Frederic Chaubin: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed
Frederic Chaubin: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed
by Frédéric Chaubin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $37.96
74 used & new from $28.97

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monumental failure, April 27, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Frederic Chaubin, in his book, has managed to capture some of the ugliest modern buildings in the world. Page after page of structures that were a product of the failed Soviet state. They seem devoid of any discernable style other than, mostly, being big and brutal. I wonder if this has anything to do with the Soviet planners and their Five Year Plans which had a quirky view of production, in lots of cases it was based on weight rather than quantity, which is why Soviet products tended to be chunky and heavy. Factory managers could achieve their output goals by making heavier but fewer units. Maybe architects got their plans approved by using as many bags of cement and tons of steel as possible.

The author, in his rather rambling essay, mentions the Soviet obsession with the future, especially space travel. The design of many buildings seems to be inspired by flying saucers with another influence Saarinen's curvy TWA terminal (now demolished) at JFK, New York. Soviet architects of the brutalist school couldn't keep things simple, they had to add bits and pieces to the external walls or cut oblong and circular shapes into them. So much of this appears to be just decoration for the sake of it.

Chaubin's photos reveal an interesting side to Soviet buildings, a lack of attention to the finish. Moisture stains appear on walls, walkways have badly fitted concrete blocks, railings with supports that aren't upright, tiled floors that have not been laid in a straight line, gutters aren't upright, big patios outside buildings are not flat. As the only client was the state why should the builders worry about the look of the finished place ("So long as the bosses pretend to pay us, we'll pretend to work"). Though some of the structures are less than forty years old they are crumbling, probably through lack of attention because they are uneconomic to use now that the state doesn't cover their costs.

The book is perhaps as monumental as it's subject. I found it too large (ten inch square would have been ideal) because the photos are big enlargements and most don't reveal lots of detail to take advantage of the book's size. All the buildings are captioned for location, date, architect, place and sometimes a comment from the author.

Chaubin's photos of ninety Soviet buildings is a fascinating record of structural failure.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 27, 2016 12:25 PM PDT

Price: $14.99

2.0 out of 5 stars It would have been worth a read but not a look, April 21, 2016
This review is from: Citizenfour (Amazon Video)
A fascinating and amazing story about lengths a government will go to know everything and deny they are doing it (we were lying for national security reasons) but I wonder how many people will watch this documentary twice. The problem I found with Laura Poitras's film is that the subject isn't really visual. This would have been a wonderful long forme article in the New Yorker, Atlantic or Vanity Fair where copy editors knock it into shape to make every word count. Thankfully there is no print equivalent of out of focus camera work, visual padding with no commentary, white noise background sound (prevalent at the start of the film) or sloppy filming of three men, in a Hong Kong hotel, discussing how to leak secrets. It could all have been summed up in a few thousand words and two or three photos in a magazine.

STATIONS: An Imagined Journey
STATIONS: An Imagined Journey
by Michael Flanagan
Edition: Hardcover
69 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Making tracks, April 20, 2016
An early example of a graphic novel (published in 1994) with the graphic aspect totally unrelated to the conventional meaning of the term. There are thirty-nine paintings by Michael Flanagan (1943-2012) on the right-hand pages but you really have to see some to appreciate the extraordinary amount of work that has gone into them. Each image has a photographic style rendering with some handwriting underneath. This writing is typeset on the left-hand page and printed on a color panel. Additional type on the page is the novel and if you read the editorial review from Publishers Weekly above you'll get a good idea of what this aspect of the book is about.

I thought the story was worthwhile enough but my interest in the book is primarily the paintings. Flanagan has managed to capture a bygone age of the railroad but in a unique way. The pictures are on torn and crumpled paper with stains, creases, tape stuck on a tear and nicely here and there additional pieces of paper underneath the top sheet, all this has
been painted Actually it's a shame that the book wasn't bigger so the reader can enjoy these amazing images. I couldn't find any reference to how big the originals were, with the amount of handwriting below each image I would guess they were three or four times the size in the book.

I think this is a remarkable book which you can pick up for less than the shipping costs.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 20, 2016 10:56 PM PDT

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