16 July 2021
Books received #45
Bill Brandt and Henry Moore; Closed on Mondays by Dinah Casson; Drama by Vanja Cuculić
Here are a few books about visual culture that have been languishing in a dark corner of the Eye office.
The catalogue to a monumental exhibition that was sadly neglected during the lockdown; a book about the theory and practice of museum design; and a collection of extraordinary Croatian theatre posters.
Cover of Bill Brandt and Henry Moore (Yale).
Top. Detail of theatre poster for Steven Berkoff’s play Kvetch by Vanja Cuculić, 2006.
This big book about two twentieth-century giants finds interesting and thought-provoking correspondences between photography and sculpture, sometimes in the printed pages of newspapers and magazines such as Lilliput, the small format periodical art directed by Stefan Lorant (see ‘A new kind of story’ in Eye 71.
Published to accompany the exhibition ‘Bill Brandt | Henry Moore’, curated by Martina Droth of the Yale Center for British Art, the book stands up well as an analysis of relationships between the monumental and the deceptively ephemeral, with large, beautifully presented images.
Spread from Bill Brandt | Henry Moore (Yale), showing Brandt’s 1960 photographs of Moore’s right eye.
The book’s design, by Miko McGinty and Rita Jules, takes care to show how Brandt’s and Moore’s work was presented in printed media, from books to magazine to newspapers, making the most of the generous format. Well researched essays, by Droth and Paul Messier, Lynda Nead, Simon Wallis and many more, draw out many strands in common between the two artists, in particular their images of bodies huddled together in temporary shelters.
Spread from Bill Brandt | Henry Moore (Yale), showing Moore’s 1941 drawings from the London Underground. Left. Study for ‘Row of Sleepers’. Right. Row of Sleepers.
The exhibition opened at The Hepworth Wakefield on 7 February 2020, but its dates were interrupted by closure, as was its time at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, Norwich, which opened briefly in late November 2020 and now continues until 22 August 2021. The exhibition is now set to open in the USA on 17 November 2022 at Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut 06510-2302.
Carol M. Armstrong’s essay quotes Lawrence Durrell: ‘Brandt … is to photography what a sculptor is to a block of marble.’
Cover of Closed on Mondays.
Closed on Mondays (Lund Humphries) is a book about museums by Dinah Casson (co-founder of exhibition design practice Casson Mann) who took part in Eye’s Type Tuesday about exhibition design in March 2020. Six chapters get to grips with the various issues – big concepts and crucial details – involved in museum management, curation and design.
The windows of The National Immigration Museum, Ellis Island, New York, 2002, from Casson’s essay ‘In Praise of Windows’.
These range from the existence or absence of windows to the nature of collections, taking in controversial aspects such as labels and text panels, ‘Collections and their Consequences’ and the the importance of having a good cloakroom. Casson writes: ‘Enjoying a good meal or watching a play is always best without a coat. It is a measure of commitment and it makes concentration possible.’
Installation designed by Carlo Scarpa for Bellini’s Presentation at the Temple (1460). Collection Palazzo Querini Stampalia, Venice.
Shoe installation, Fondazione Museo Ettore Guatelli, Ozzano Taro, Parma, Italy, 2012, from the chapter ‘Collections and their Consequences’.
Cover of Vanja Cuculić – Drama. Design and layout: Leo Kirinčić. Art director: Vanja Cuculić.
For fifteen years, designer / illustrator Vanja Cuculić made all the posters for the Gavella Drama Theatre in Zagreb, Croatia, in which he enjoyed a remarkable degree of freedom. Mainly silkscreened, Cuculić’s posters have a vivid surreality that anticipates the heightened reality of the plays enacted on the Gavella’s stage.
Kaligula, 2008. Poster for theatre production based on Caligula by Albert Camus.
The book Vanja Cuculić – Drama, published by Hrvatsko dizajnersko društvo [Croatian Designers Association] is the catalogue for an exhibition of the posters held in Zagreb in February 2020. Cuculić’s images have an allegorical universality, addressing sex, religion, politics, money and the legacy of the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s.
Crne Oći [Dark Eyes], Vanja Cuculić, 2011. A picket fence becomes a row of graves, evoking the everyday horrors of the 1990s Balkan conflicts.
Kvetch, Vanja Cuculić, 2006. ‘Various fears and neurosis slither through the character’s head,’ writes Marko Golub.
Marko Golub writes in his lucid introductory essay: ‘It is not imperative to be familiar with the dramatic text, even less with its theatrical interpretation, to be able to experience the poster.’ At his sharpest, Cuculić brings the golden age of Eastern European poster design a decisive kick into the 21st century.
Kiklop [Cyclops], Vanja Cuculić, 2019. Ranko Marinković’s play deals with the rise of fascism.
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