ARTS BIOGRAPHY REDWORDS Rivera/Mozart/Rembrandt/Coltrane (Redwords $34.99 each) 0000
Mozart has a Big Story that needs to be heard
In these days of post-modernism. when so many in the arts world subscribe to a Cynicism regarding ‘big stories'. it is tremendoust refreshing to see the publication of a series of cultural biographies of artists which locate their an very much in the social. political and historical context in which it was produced.
If you believe. as Bertolt Brecht did. that great art holds a “distorted mirror' up to our society. socialist publisher Redwords' little collection of portraits is an
All four authors paint a sophisticated picture of the times and places which shaped the lives and the art of their subjects. Mike Gonzalez‘s beautifully written Diego Rivera: The Man Who Painted Walls. for example. explains the origins of the Mexican Muralist tradition (an affront to the developing notion of private ownership of artworks) and the key events and players in the Mexican Revolution. These factors had. he convincineg argues. a fundamental bearing on
The wonderful thing about these beautifully produced and illustrated books is that they uphold an absolute respect for the freedom of both the artist and the process. They are also tremendously accessible. attracting praise from such diverse figures as jazz musician Courtney Pine (for John Coltrane) and art historian John Berger (for Rembrandt).
Locating the artists in their social contexts. without ever reducing the art to a mere statement of politics or history. they are a fine advert for serious writing on
Culture. (Mark Brown)
undoubtedly this year's fave. Exhibitions. films.
and now a book; if y0u're lucky there might be a T-shirt in time for Christmas.
Sylvie Matton attempts to imagine herself into the heart and mind of Rembrandt's muse. lover and companion. with whom he lived for the last twenty years of his life. Her present- tense monologue is aimed at creating a
rawness and immediacy but what emerges is an embarrassing intimacy that never quite rings true.
Take. for example: ‘You're withdrawing. no. Slowly. no. you leave me trembling.‘ Highly acclaimed in its original French. you can‘t help but feel that much of the power and subtlety has been lost in translation. Smells. textures and light are sometimes conjured up with a potency evocative of Rembrandt's own work. but as a love story it's just not quite there. (Ruth Hedges)
Edward Connery Lathem ed The Poetry Of Robert Frost (Vintage £8. 99)
All eleven collections of
the legendary San Franciscans remarkable verse.
Jane Wenham-Jones Raising The Roof (Transwor/d £5.99) Sparky relationship comedy-drama with central character lumbered by rubbish friends after her hubbie ditches her.
Geoffrey Farrington The Revenants (Deda/us £7.99) Revised edition of 19th century Gothic vampire terror.
Chris Petit The Hard ShOL/lder (Granta €74.99) SOul-searching and alienation in Thatcherite UK from Cult author.
Mervyn Peake Letters From A Lost Uncle (Methuen l: 72.99) A long-lost tale of a stranded Polar explorer with eerie drawings and spooky text.
THE GOLEM’S MIGHTY SWING James Sturm (Drawn + Quarterly) 0000
A Golem, for those unfamiliar with either the classic silent German film Der Go/em or Jewish history. is a creature created through ancient Kabbalist rituals to protect individuals and communities. In this instance all-Jewish baseball team the Stars of David call on one to save them from being wiped off the pitch by their white racist opponents while touring 19208 America. Sturm scores home runs with his ‘picture novel' of “historical fiction'. describing in compelling fashion the games. the anti-Semeticism and the folk lore. And the fly-leaf covers. sepia tone and old-fashioned newspaper strip-style illustrations heighten the credibility of the whole amazing story. (Miles Fielder)
Seth (Drawn + Quarterly) .00
In celebration of the tenth anniversary of the first publication of writer- artist Seth's semi- autobiographical comic book Pa/ookavi/le. Drawn + Quarterly have re-printed issue one with spanking new shiny silver card cover. But Seth ain't happy: as he writes in his honestly self-deprecating
introduction. ‘this comic book is truly awful'. True. it is as he says. an anecdote (Seth gets beaten up for wearing make-up in public) dressed up as a stOry. and it shows. However. the genesis of Seth's stylish artwork. influenced by 19408 newspaper cartoonists is in evidence. and it looked great back in 1991. Not a much on the Pa/ookavi/Ie of today. but interesting nevertheless.
SCIENCE FICTION PLANETARY VOLUMES 1 & 2 Warren Ellis, John Cassaday and Laura Depuy (Wildstorm)
These two trade paperbacks collect the first twelve issues of Warren Ellis‘ new sci-ti saga Planetary. Three agents. or as they like to be known ‘mystery archaeologists. examine the world's weirder goings on — kind of the
X-Fi/es with super
powers. Ellis portrays his heroes as dark and mysterious. not giving much away to add to the conundrum. but it just makes them seem shallow and you feel hard pressed to care about characters you know nothing about. Things improve in the second book. but character development is definitely the missing link in these otherwise intriguing conspiracy stories.
ESSAY REINVENTING COMICS
Scott McCloud (Paradox Press) 0...
How do you make a text book on comics interesting? Simple make it into a comic. Scott McCloud. author of the seminal Understanding Comics and acknowledged media expert. returns to talk about what he loves most. In part one he examines comics' place in society and people's perception of the medium as well as the business side of the industry. Part two moves into more theoretical realms. proposing how modern technology. in particular the internet. will revolutionise comics in the near future. And all these complex ideas are put fonrvard through simple black and white drawings. Accessible. thought-provoking and just about the smartest comic around.
Planetary offers shallow but intriguing conspiracy tales
4—18 Oct 2001 THE LIST 107