A brilliant account of Nazi pillage and the ongoing efforts at restitution.

BELONGING AND BETRAYAL

HOW JEWS MADE THE ART WORLD MODERN

A scholar tells the story of 20th-century art dealers, the avant-garde and old masters works they promoted, and Nazi plunder.

In 1945, “Jewish gentleman” Lt. James Rorimer, the Harvard-educated director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval branch, was given the job of traveling to Buxheim monastery in Germany and “hunting down an unknown quantity of works of art that the Nazis had despoiled.” He discovered 158 paintings of a quality few museum collections could match, works by Boucher, Fragonard, Delacroix, and others. These would not be the only cultural assets recovered that the Nazis had taken from Jews through a Wehrmacht unit known as ERR; it was a “massive confiscation of fine and decorative art almost immediately after the fall of France and the beginning of the German occupation.” But how did European Jews acquire the art in the first place, given that such works had hitherto been available only to royalty and the landed classes? In this exceptional work of scholarship, Boston University history professor Dellheim “sets out to reframe our picture of Nazi-stolen art” by focusing on “the rise and fall of a small number of Jews, individuals and families, who were both merchants and connoisseurs, dealers and collectors.” The author devotes most of the book to a detailed history of the Jewish dealers and collectors who acquired these artworks—e.g., Nathan Wildenstein, a textile merchant who developed “an astonishingly good eye” for authenticating old masters paintings; and Joseph Duveen, who would become one of the most influential art dealers in history. In the devastating final chapters, Dellheim describes the “cultural violence” of the Nazi dispossession of art and recounts the grotesque goals of “ensuring that museums and galleries were securely judenrein, ‘cleansed’ of Jews,” and “removing old masters from Jewish hands."

A brilliant account of Nazi pillage and the ongoing efforts at restitution.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68458-056-9

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Brandeis Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

HUMANS OF NEW YORK

STORIES

Photographer and author Stanton returns with a companion volume to Humans of New York (2013), this one with similarly affecting photographs of New Yorkers but also with some tales from his subjects’ mouths.

Readers of the first volume—and followers of the related site on Facebook and elsewhere—will feel immediately at home. The author has continued to photograph the human zoo: folks out in the streets and in the parks, in moods ranging from parade-happy to deep despair. He includes one running feature—“Today in Microfashion,” which shows images of little children dressed up in various arresting ways. He also provides some juxtapositions, images and/or stories that are related somehow. These range from surprising to forced to barely tolerable. One shows a man with a cat on his head and a woman with a large flowered headpiece, another a construction worker proud of his body and, on the facing page, a man in a wheelchair. The emotions course along the entire continuum of human passion: love, broken love, elation, depression, playfulness, argumentativeness, madness, arrogance, humility, pride, frustration, and confusion. We see varieties of the human costume, as well, from formalwear to homeless-wear. A few celebrities appear, President Barack Obama among them. The “stories” range from single-sentence comments and quips and complaints to more lengthy tales (none longer than a couple of pages). People talk about abusive parents, exes, struggles to succeed, addiction and recovery, dramatic failures, and lifelong happiness. Some deliver minirants (a neuroscientist is especially curmudgeonly), and the children often provide the most (often unintended) humor. One little boy with a fishing pole talks about a monster fish. Toward the end, the images seem to lead us toward hope. But then…a final photograph turns the light out once again.

A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05890-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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