It is hard to believe that that the perennially young Japanese label UNDERCOVER turned 25 last year. As part of the anniversary, the publisher Rizzoli is releasing a 256-page book on the brand ($65). It is the first comprehensive overview of UNDERCOVER’s body of work and the first book on the brand available in the West (if you can find it, hunt down the fantastic “The Shepherd,” which documented UNDERCOVER’s first Parisian shows.)
Aaaah, the Smiths! As a late convert I cannot claim allegiance to the good old formative days when meat was murder and the queen was dead. But, the more I listen to the Smiths as of late the more their music overtakes my consciousness.
I did not know that one of the most impressive modern buildings is in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, until I saw its photo in This Brutal World (Phaidon, $49.95). The jaw-dropping structure is a testament to the human aspirations and follies. If architecture, like art, should reflect our world, the still-unfinished (inside) Ryugyong Hotel is it.
Underneath the pressing debate in the publishing industry that’s threatened by e-readers and Amazon, there lies one basic question – what does a book make? Especially, a book of literature? Is a text simply a text? Does the physical book matter? Ask any old bibliophile, and their lament will extend way back to the rise of the cheap trade paperback that replaced the beautiful folios of yore in most home libraries. To them the physicality of the book extends the respect due to the text.
Boris Mikhailov is a somewhat accidental artist. He worked as an engineer in the Soviet Ukraine, dabbling in photography on the side when he was ratted out for taking nude photos of his wife. He was subsequently thrown out of work for spreading pornography – a common practice to remove “undesirable elements,” especially those of Jewish descent. Consigned to the dregs of society, which included the bohemia of the artists unapproved by the state, Mikhailov began to take photos in earnest. Photos that reflected the deep aesthetic and spiritual ugliness of the homeland that betrayed him.
Francesca Woodman was one of those art prodigies who has never quite found her place in this world.
She died young, but she has left a rich body of work that consists of photographs that could easily be mundane in the hands of a lesser artist, but in Woodman’s hands become enigmatic.
If you happen to be in Venice in the next few months, don’t miss the Sarah Moon exhibit at Palazzo Fortuny. Moon is a perennial favorite, and this sensual, melancholic series of photographs taken at the Palazzon is no exception.