Looking for Mushrooms: Beat Poets, Hippies, Funk, Minimal
Art; San Francisco 1955-1968. Cologne,
Germany: Museum Ludwig, 2008.
This catalog of an exhibition held at the Museum Ludwig in
Cologne focuses on political, social, and artistic trends that occurred in
Northern California between 1955 and 1968. Often marginalized in contrast to the art scene of the East Coast of the United States,
and especially that of New York City, the West Coast was a site of important changes in both
art and society. In Northern California
during this time, political and artistic movements became engaged and dissolved
the boundaries of art to produce a “politicized counterculture” which
incorporated theater, film, visual arts, dance, and literature. The organizers of the exhibition focus on the
socio-political changes of this time and the artistic experiments that took
place in this environment. Artists such
as Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, and H.C. Westermann are some of the artists
examined at length, along with important counterculture figures such as Timothy
Leary and Allen Ginsberg, and important influences such as the Black Panther
movement and the Bay Area rock bands.
Hoving, Kirsten. Joseph Cornell and Astronomy: A Case for the
Stars. Princeton University Press,
Joseph Cornell was an American artist who created collages
and assembled boxes with objects and images that seem to hint at enigmatic
meanings. Hundreds of the works that he
created over his career contain references to astronomy. Although not formally trained in astronomy,
Cornell taught himself by collecting more than one hundred books on the subject
which he supplemented with clipping files filled with illustrations from old
books and magazines. Many of these
clippings would subsequently be used in his artwork. This book explores Cornell’s deep interest in
astronomy, and examines hundreds of his works that contain references to
astronomical phenomena. The author considers the importance of science in
Cornell’s creative process and explores the connection the artist felt to the
stars and the exploration of space in his time.
Milne, David. America’s Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the
Vietnam War. Hill and Wang, 2008.
Walt W. Rostow was an economic historian who became one of
the primary architects and defenders of the Vietnam War as an adviser to
Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. A perpetual optimist in the ability of the
United States to export the American dream to countries under the threat of communism,
Rostow was an unwavering proponent of the Vietnam War during the Kennedy and
Johnson administrations. Described as “America’s
Rasputin” for the influence he exerted on presidential decision-making, Rostow
espoused a policy of military escalation, championed optimistic reporting, and
then advised Johnson against pursuing a compromise peace with North Vietnam. David Milne closely examines Rostow’s role in
Vietnam decision making and the subsequent impact of the policies and decisions
that were made.
Neset, Arne. Arcadian Waters and Wanton Seas: The Iconology
of Waterscapes in Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Culture. Peter Lang, 2009.
Through the interdisciplinary perspectives of art history, cultural history, literature, and visual culture, the author defines and interprets the iconology and cultural meanings of landscape and waterscape pictures in the United States and Europe in the 19th century. Depictions of landscapes have a long history that can be traced back to classical ideals of Arcadia and Eden, and the author posits that these influenced American artists of the 19th century who portrayed an American Arcadia through classical conventions. These influences are also manifested in seascapes in which the author perceives iconological traditions in cultures across the Atlantic. Drawing on many different perspectives of the 19th century, the author proposes a different way of looking at the landscapes and seascapes produced during this time.—Doug Litts