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Robert Frank's American Cinema
Until now, celebrated photographer Robert Frank’s daring and unconventional work as a filmmaker has not been awarded the critical notice it deserves. In this timely volume, George Kouvaros surveys Frank’s films and videos and places them in the larger context of experimentation in American art and literature since World War II.
Born in 1924, Frank emigrated from Switzerland to the United States in 1947 and quickly made his mark as a photojournalist. A 1955 Guggenheim Foundation fellowship allowed him to travel across the country, photographing aspects of American life that had previously received little attention. The resulting book, The Americans, with an Introduction by Jack Kerouac, is generally considered a landmark in the history of postwar photography. During the same period, Frank befriended other artists and writers, among them Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, and Gregory Corso, all of whom are featured in his first film, Pull My Daisy, which is narrated by Kerouac. This film set the terms for a new era of experimental filmmaking.
By examining Frank’s films and videos, including Pull My Daisy, Me and My Brother, and Cocksucker Blues, in the framework of his more widely recognized photographic achievements, Kouvaros develops a model of cross-media history in which photography, film, and video are complicit in the search for fresh forms of visual expression. Awakening the Eye is an insightful, compelling, and, at times, moving account of Frank’s determination to forge a personal connection between the circumstances of his life and the media in which he works.
The Brion Gysin Reader
Brion Gysin (1916–1986) was a visual artist, historian, novelist, and an experimental poet credited with the discovery of the ‘cut-up’ technique -- a collage of texts, not pictures -- which his longtime collaborator William S. Burroughs put to more extensive use. He is also considered one of the early innovators of sound poetry, which he defines as ‘getting poetry back off the page and into performance.’ Back in No Time gathers materials from the entire Gysin oeuvre: scholarly historical study, baroque fiction, permutated and cut-up poetry, unsettling memoir, selections from The Process and The Last Museum, and his unproduced screenplay of Burroughs’ novel Naked Lunch. In addition, the Reader contains complete texts of several Gysin pieces that are difficult to find, including “Poem of Poems,” “The Pipes of Pan,” and “A Quick Trip to Alamut.”
Tradition, Media, and Technological Horizons
In the Footsteps of the Padres
The story of the American Quilt Trail, featuring the colorful patterns of quilt squares writ large on barns throughout North America, is the story of one of the fastest-growing grassroots public arts movements in the United States and Canada. In Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement Suzi Parron travels through twenty-nine states and two Canadian provinces to visit the people and places that have put this movement on America’s tourist and folk art map.
Through dozens of interviews with barn artists, committee members, and barn owners Parron documents a journey that began in 2001 with the founder of the movement, Donna Sue Groves. Groves’s desire to honor her mother with a quilt square painted on their barn became a group effort that eventually grew into a county-wide project. Today, registered quilt squares form a long imaginary clothesline, appearing on more than three thousand barns scattered along one hundred driving trails.
With more than fifty full-color photographs, Parron documents a movement that combines rural economic development with an American folk art phenomenon.
Featuring more than 100 stunning full-color photographs along with helpful diagrams and historic photos, Barns of Connecticut captures both the iconic and the unique, including historic and noteworthy barns. The book discusses the importance of barns to Connecticut agriculture across our state and up to the present day. Markham Starr's Barns of Connecticut offers a lovely introduction to the architectural, functional, and agricultural roles these structures played in early Connecticut. Through text and color photographs, it tells a story of change and continuity. From the earliest colonial structures to the low steel buildings of modern dairy farms, barns have adapted to meet the needs of each generation; they've stored wheat, hay, and tobacco, and housed farm animals and dairy cows. These enduring structures display the optimism, ingenuity, hard work, and practicality of the people who tend land and livestock throughout the state.
How Aerial Vision Shaped the Midwest
To Midwesterners tucked into small towns or farms early in the twentieth century, the landscape of the American heartland reached the horizon—and then imagination had to provide what lay beyond. But when aviation took off and scenes of the Midwest were no longer earthbound, the Midwestern landscape was transformed and with it, Jason Weems suggests in this book, the very idea of the Midwest itself.
Barnstorming the Prairies offers a panoramic vista of the transformative nature and power of the aerial vision that remade the Midwest in the wake of the airplane. This new perspective from above enabled Americans to conceptualize the region as something other than isolated and unchanging, and to see it instead as a dynamic space where people worked to harmonize the core traditions of America’s agrarian character with the more abstract forms of twentieth-century modernity. In the maps and aerial survey photography of the Midwest, as well as the painting, cinema, animation, and suburban landscapes that arose through flight, Weems also finds a different and provocative view of modernity in the making. In representations of the Midwest, from Grant Wood’s iconic images to the Prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright to the design of greenbelt suburbs, Weems reveals aerial vision’s fundamental contribution to regional identity—to Midwesternness as we understand it.
Reading comparatively across these images, Weems explores how the cognitive and perceptual practices of aerial vision helped to resymbolize the Midwestern landscape amid the technological change and social uncertainty of the early twentieth century.
Roots of the Fantastic in the Age of Curiosities
David Castillo takes us on a tour of some horrific materials that have rarely been considered together. He sheds a fantastical new light on the baroque. ---Anthony J. Cascardi, University of California Berkeley "Baroque Horrors is a textual archeologist's dream, scavenged from obscure chronicles, manuals, minor histories, and lesser-known works of major artists. Castillo finds tales of mutilation, mutation, monstrosity, murder, and mayhem, and delivers them to us with an inimitable flair for the sensational that nonetheless rejects sensationalism because it remains so grounded in historical fact." ---William Egginton, Johns Hopkins University "Baroque Horrors is a major contribution to baroque ideology, as well as an exploration of the grotesque, the horrible, the fantastic. Castillo organizes his monograph around the motif of curiosity, refuting the belief that Spain is a country incapable of organized scientific inquiry." ---David Foster, Arizona State University Baroque Horrors turns the current cultural and political conversation from the familiar narrative patterns and self-justifying allegories of abjection to a dialogue on the history of our modern fears and their monstrous offspring. When life and death are severed from nature and history, "reality" and "authenticity" may be experienced as spectator sports and staged attractions, as in the "real lives" captured by reality TV and the "authentic cadavers" displayed around the world in the Body Worlds exhibitions. Rather than thinking of virtual reality and staged authenticity as recent developments of the postmodern age, Castillo looks back to the Spanish baroque period in search for the roots of the commodification of nature and the horror vacui that accompanies it. Aimed at specialists, students, and readers of early modern literature and culture in the Spanish and Anglophone traditions as well as anyone interested in horror fantasy, Baroque Horrors offers new ways to rethink broad questions of intellectual and political history and relate them to the modern age. David Castillo is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. Jacket art: Frederick Ruysch's anatomical diorama. Engraving reproduction "drawn from life" by Cornelius Huyberts. Image from the Zymoglyphic Museum.
The Aesthetic Aftermath
Of the conceptual artists who began their careers in the 1960s and 1970s—Bruce Nauman, Chris Burden, Vito Acconci, and Mel Bochner among them—Barry Le Va may be the most elusive. As this first study of his work reveals, his rigorously planned art was instigated to mask its creator’s intentions and methods, presenting itself as an “aftermath” of modernism’s claim to permanency and civil society’s preferred mode of monumentalism.
For Michael Maizels, Le Va’s work constitutes a particularly productive subject of inquiry because it clearly articulates the interconnection between the avant-garde’s distrust of autonomous art objects, two decades of social unrest, the emergence of information theory, and lingering notions of scientific objectivity. Barry Le Va: The Aesthetic Aftermath explores how Le Va used such materials as shattered glass, spent bullets, sound recordings, scattered flour, and meat cleavers embedded in a floor to challenge the interlocking assumptions behind blind faith in lasting beauty, just government, and perfectible knowledge. Taking inspiration from popular crime novels as well as contemporary art theory, Le Va charged his viewers to attempt, like detectives at a crime scene, to decipher an order underlying the apparent chaos.
Le Va’s installations were designed to erode not simply the presumed autonomy of the art object but also the economic and political authority of the art establishment. In his concluding chapter, Maizels looks at the more fixed work of the past two decades in which Le Va turned to architectural themes and cast concrete to probe the limits of dynamism and the idea of permanence.
From Feminine Craft to Mode of Design
The Bauhaus school in Germany has long been understood through the writings of its founding director, Walter Gropius, and well-known artists who taught there such as Wassily Kandinsky and László Moholy-Nagy. Far less recognized are texts by women in the school’s weaving workshop. In Bauhaus Weaving Theory, T’ai Smith uncovers new significance in the work the Bauhaus weavers did as writers.
From colorful, expressionist tapestries to the invention of soundproofing and light-reflective fabric, the workshop’s innovative creations influenced a modernist theory of weaving. In the first careful examination of the writings of Bauhaus weavers, including Anni Albers, Gunta Stözl, and Otti Berger, Smith details how these women challenged assumptions about the feminine nature of their craft. As they harnessed the vocabulary of other disciplines like painting, architecture, and photography, Smith argues, the weavers resisted modernist thinking about distinct media. In parsing texts about tapestries and functional textiles, the vital role these women played in debates about medium in the twentieth century and a nuanced history of the Bauhaus comes to light.
Bauhaus Weaving Theory deftly reframes the Bauhaus weaving workshop as central to theoretical inquiry at the school. Putting questions of how value and legitimacy are established in the art world into dialogue with the limits of modernism, Smith confronts the belief that the crafts are manual and technical but never intellectual arts.