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344 Books provided so many unidealized representations of New York City in the earlier part of this century. Gruger was the artist who first illustrated Edna Ferber's Show Boat for Woman's Horne Companion in 1926. Since he was no colorist, his pictures reproduced in four color process gain very little over the black and white wash drawings at which he excelled. He was painstaking when it came to historical detail, at least to the same degree that serious antiquarians were during his time, and the sense of locale his work conveys is notable. His treatment of such well-known stories as Aldous Huxley's 'Gioconda Smile' and Maugham's 'The Luncheon', as well as others by Sabatini, Marquand, Agatha Christie and William Faulkner, make one curious to read other stories illustrated by him and included in the book. And that, perhaps, is the highest compliment one can pay the journeyman illustrator. On the other hand, Gruger's drawings for Faulkner's 'Ambuscade' (1934) and Stephen Vincent Benet's 'Freedom's a Hard Bought Thing' (1940) mix an apparent sympathy for USAmerican Black people with brutalizing stereotypes that had already assumed a grotesque exaggeration in his Saturday Evening Post illustration for Joseph Hergesheimer's 'Charleston' in 1927. Still, none of these things is without a certain expressive vitality, and some of them have a genuine, if melodramatic, power. At last, though, the real interest of the book resides not in Gruger's work so much as in his times and the people with whom he associated. It is not often that one gets to see, for example, a photograph of the painter John Sloan in drag (women's dress) as 'Twillbe' (for a student farce satirizing DuMaurier's Trilby). The best part of the book is encountered early on where journalism of the late 19th century is described along with practices of old-fashioned academy teachers that deserve close study still today. Anshutz taught anatomy in the manner of his own teacher, Thomas Eakins, modeling muscles in clay, then laying them up onto a skeleton as he lectured. Henry Thouron, the composition lecturer, used to draw a rectangular area, then 'locate within it a few freehand lines and a dot. "Now I want a picture where this dot is the lobe of a man's ear and these lines are incorporated", he would advise.' Even then, some talented students, including Maxfield Parrish , did not care for the approach. But, in essence, it has not been much improved upon. Format in Painting. Avigdor Poseq. Tchernikover Pub!., TelAviv , 1978. 214 pp., illus. Paper. Reviewed by Albert Garrett* This book covers format from the architectural extension of design from the walls of a building outwards, the ceiling downwards and the floor upwards to the design and composition of artworks that were commissioned or are from art collections that find their way eventually into either the interior or the exterior of a building. It is a detailed study and the subject of his doctoral thesis at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. It is refreshing to read a historical work where the author is at ease dealing with artworks both of antiquity and of one's own time. Today, a high value is placed on individualism in some countries, and artists there would like to see their works preserved in museums, which gives rise to an irony in format, because artworks cannot be seen in isolation by the public that has access to a building. In format there is the world of design that lies between a visual artist and an architect. Answers have to be found fot size, shape, proportion, scale, medium and perspective of a picture in relation to a building's style, environment, viewing angle, height, structure, texture and light. It was just these considerations that saved Poseq from making a horrible mistake. For many years I viewed largescale paintings by Rothko, Kline, Pollock and others in London Commercial galleries, and their dimensions appeared ostentatious and inappropriate. But when I saw the paintings hung in the huge marbled galleries of the Empire State Plaza in Albany, New York, they settled into this environment as *10 Sunningdale Ave., Eastcote, Ruislip, Middlesex HA4 9SR...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
p. 344
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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