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4.0 out of 5 stars the alluring art/design of Ron Arad, at once timely and timeless, February 7, 2012
This review is from: Ron Arad: Minimum Design (Hardcover)
While the term 'biomorphic" used for much postmodern and contemporary art applies to Arad's creations, it does so not to define them as it ordinarily does, but is only a reference to start to get a grasp of the works. For "biomorphic", as the term implies, applies to the amorphic, cell-like shape of an art work. Microscopic views of the shapes and transformations of cells of parts of the body are the sources for biopmophic art. Arad's works relate to these sources and postmodern style, but they extend beyond it by seeming mutations of the mutable cellular life; and along with this, with their materials and often their colors, Arad's works have an exceptional material presence. Like sculpture, Arad's works, even ones such as chairs or tables having an overt practical use, generate a futuristic, illimitable atmosphere. Materials include polyethylene, aluminum, thermoplastic, silicone, and resin--often combined and sometimes highly polished, thus enhancing the presence of the elementary shape. As explained in the introductory essay by Andrea Branzi, that Arad's work "is situated on the increasingly open border between two fields [design and art] which are now growing more and more fluid, breathing life into each other and creating a new free space for material culture."

Born in Tel Aviv in 1951, after studying at the Jerusalem Academy of Art, in the 1970s Arad moved to London to study and create. He has also subsequently worked or had exhibitions in New Orleans, New York, Italy, France, and elsewhere. Although Arad has now gained an international reputation, his art cannot be called "international" in style any more than it can be termed simply "biomorphic". For the work exceeds even the broad, encompassing term international. With its cosmic potential, like distant glittering stars or galaxies, and yet its familiarity and intimacy like the corpuscles of one's own body, Arad's works transcend the cultural influences and globalization reflected in the term international for art and design. In a second essay "A Designer With No Passport" by the book's author Christian Galli, Jungian psychology with its archetypes and Frank Gehry (architect), Anish Kapoor (installation artist), and Henry Moore (sculptor) are used as reference points for understanding Arad's unique works.

The organization and content of this book is an example for all the books of this exciting new series bringing attention to highly imaginative artists in what has become the new field blending art and design. There is an introductory essay by the series director Andrea Branzi followed by a second essay by the book's author, in this book going more broadly into the totality of the artist's work, relating background and bringing in comparisons to the work, and charting the biography.

A two-page spread of small, three-inch by three-inch, color photographs of art works is arranged chronologically as a timeline so the reader can at once take in the time span during which the works were created and readily see the varied kinds and any evolution. Then comes the central, main section titled "Objects", which is a catalog of major and representative art works with accompanying short essays. This is followed by an interview with the artist and a final essay by the book's author critiquing and assessing the artist. Interspersed with this wide-ranging textual content are attractive color photographs, some full-page and some showing particular works from different angles. All-in-all, a well-designed, well thought out book.
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