Close Objects: by Ch'ng Kiah Kiean

Ch'ng Kiah Kiean
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Publisher
Ch'ng Kiah Kiean
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Published on
May 25, 2019
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Pages
46
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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From the monumental public frescoes of Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Álfaro Siqueiros, to the canvasses and drawings of younger artists like Galván, Cantú, Meza, Tamayo, and Orozco Romero, Mexican painting since the First World War has developed into a strong, influential artistic tradition.
This book explores this Mexican tradition — the artists, their works, the social and political background, and the relationship of the modern painters to European and Mexican historical tradition. Helm, an important collector who knew most of the artists, writes informally yet with deep understanding about the major figures — Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros — as well as over 40 others little known outside their native Mexico.
He ably ties together such diverse influences as the Revolution and the regime of Obregón, the Siqueiros Syndicate and its power in getting artists to pool resources and works for a powerful national style, Rivera's strong political beliefs and their effect on his work, Orozco's deep empathy, the development of the young artists, the effects of low wages and bohemian existence on artistic production, links to Indian art, the rediscovery of fresco technique, important patrons, the religious and anti-religious forces in the early works, and much more. In addition, 95 works by 37 artists are reproduced, showing the range and best works of modern Mexican painting.
MacKinley Helm was in a uniquely favorable position to write about these artists, and his book is now considered the best introduction to the art and artists of Mexico during the great artistic movements of the '20s and '30s. Collectors, artists, and others who have felt the lack of solid information about this important Western tradition will find this book gives clear insight into the conflicts, personalities, and important works that have developed into modern Mexican art.
I am down to a pencil, a pen, and a bottle of ink. I hope one day to eliminate the pencil.

Al Hirschfeld redefined caricature and exemplified Broadway and Hollywood, enchanting generations with his mastery of line. His art appeared in every major publication during nine decades of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as well as on numerous book, record, and program covers; film posters and publicity art; and on fifteen U.S. postage stamps.

Now, The Hirschfeld Century brings together for the first time the artist’s extraordinary eighty-two-year career, revealed in more than 360 of his iconic black-and-white and color drawings, illustrations, and photographs—his influences, his techniques, his evolution from his earliest works to his last drawings, and with a biographical text by David Leopold, Hirschfeld authority, who, as archivist to the artist, worked side by side with him and has spent more than twenty years documenting the artist’s extraordinary output.

Here is Hirschfeld at age seventeen, working in the publicity department at Goldwyn Pictures (1920–1921), rising from errand boy to artist; his year at Universal (1921); and, beginning at age eighteen, art director at Selznick Pictures, headed by Louis Selznick (father of David O.) in New York. We see Hirschfeld, at age twenty-one, being influenced by the stylized drawings of Miguel Covarrubias, newly arrived from Mexico (they shared a studio on West Forty-Second Street), whose caricatures appeared in many of the most influential magazines, among them Vanity Fair. We see, as well, how Hirschfeld’s friendship with John Held Jr. (Held’s drawings literally created the look of the Jazz Age) was just as central as Covarrubias to the young artist’s development, how Held’s thin line affected Hirschfeld’s early caricatures.

Here is the Hirschfeld century, from his early doodles on the backs of theater programs in 1926 that led to his work for the drama editors of the New York Herald Tribune (an association that lasted twenty years) to his receiving a telegram from The New York Times, in 1928, asking for a two-column drawing of Sir Harry Lauder, a Scottish vaudeville singing sensation making one of his (many) farewell tours, an assignment that began a collaboration with the Times that lasted seventy-five years, to Hirschfeld’s theater caricatures, by age twenty-five, a drawing appearing every week in one of four different New York newspapers.

Here, through Hirschfeld’s pen, are Ethel Merman, Benny Goodman, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Katharine Hepburn, the Marx Brothers, Barbra Streisand, Elia Kazan, Mick Jagger, Ella Fitzgerald, Laurence Olivier, Martha Graham, et al. . . . Among the productions featured: Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Rent, Guys and Dolls, The Wizard of Oz (Hirschfeld drew five posters for the original release), Gone with the Wind, The Sopranos, and more.

Here as well are his brilliant portraits of writers, politicians, and the like, among them Ernest Hemingway (a pal from 1920s Paris), Tom Wolfe, Charles de Gaulle, Nelson Mandela, Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, and every president from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Bill Clinton.

Sumptuous and ambitious, a book that gives us, through images and text, a Hirschfeld portrait of an artist and his age. 
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