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King of the Kustomizers: The Art of George Barris Hardcover – September 1, 2015
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About the Author
Brett Barris is the son of George Barris. He has worked in the entertainment industry for over fifteen years, and as an art photographer for over twenty. Being the son of George Barris, he knows George’s career better than most. He currently works with his father as a marketing director of Barris Kustom Industries, preserving and extending the Barris legacy. This book fulfills a longtime dream: to share his father’s work as an innovator and multi-talented artist with a wide audience.
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While I consider myself well versed on the automotive world, I came away a bit shocked on how prolific George Barris was. It's mind boggling that one man could oversee the creation of so much.
The book is a whopping 496 pages long and filled with a good balance of text and images. This is not just a book with pretty pictures. It offers "real information" that informs the reader in a concise yet comprehensive way. In addition to the general text, each image is labeled so the reader can understand its significance. The pictures ultimately tell the story of the end result --- great custom vehicles. Of course, the quality of the images vary greatly since the sources vary. These images are blended well to make the reading experience enjoyable. The images and information are not so dense that the reader is overwhelmed. The book is hard to fault for its content.
If I were to criticize the book, I would have hoped for the material to be presented in a more chronological fashion. I understand that many of the cars and Barris' endeavors need to categorized into silos. However, I really wanted to see how his art progressed over time. Its always useful to see how time and experience influences an artist's output. I found myself a bit confused trying to mentally sort out which cars came when. Fortunately most images are at least labeled with a year.
The other element I would have like to see improved is - ironically - the coverage of the Batmobile. When most people think of George Barris, they usually think of the Batmobile first, after all its on the cover of the book. The author holds off covering the Batmobile until the latter part of the book. I was eager to read this and see a great spread of images. I was disappointed. The write up was decent, but the images simply do not do justice to the car. There are too few, they are poorly arranged and there really aren't the 360 degrees of glamour shots that I expected to see of arguably his ultimate achievement. I was surprised by this given how great the rest of the book is.
With that said, the book is still a gem ... and deserves FIVE STARS, because the shortcomings are completely offset by the stellar quality of the rest of the book. This book serves as an excellent testament to George Barris' influence on custom vehicles, the entertainment industry and pop culture.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! A MUST BUY FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN GEORGE BARRIS OR CUSTOM VEHICLES ...
It gets an A for quantity, a D for organization and clarity, and an F for selectivity. Important cars are often shown in three or four different chapters because of the confusing organization of the book. This is an excellent example of more being less. The authors were unable to leave out any trivial item. The single largest section concerns cars that appeared in movies.
Readers can find information on every one of Barris’s major creations but it is usually buried in a pile of trivia. There is little analysis of topics like how custom cars evolved, rods vs. customs , how custom cars affected manufacturers’ decisions on styling. This could be good source material for a more skilled author who wants to write a better book on the topic.
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