A beautifully produced introduction to a celebrated artist.

EDVARD MUNCH

AN INNER LIFE

Norway's most lauded modernist reinvented his aesthetic aims throughout his long career.

Edvard Munch (1863-1944), famous for his haunting work The Scream, produced nearly 1,800 paintings and thousands of drawings, etchings, prints, sculpture, and photographs. In the 1950s, New York’s Museum of Modern Art mounted an extensive traveling exhibition of his works, and in 1963, the Munch Museum in Oslo opened on the centennial of his birth. Although Munch has been the subject of much scholarship, art historian and museum curator Ustvedt saw the need for an introduction addressed to general readers. He amply succeeds in this insightful, vibrant overview of Munch’s life and prolific oeuvre, deftly translated by McCullough and illustrated with a wealth of images. The author traces Munch’s development beginning in the 1880s, when he broke with past traditions and “successfully positioned himself as a radical revolutionary.” Munch identified an early painting, The Sick Child, as an artistic breakthrough: an effort to capture “the fleeting mood” of the sickroom with bold, layered brush strokes, streaming light, and blurred details. Throughout the 1890s, Munch became part of a circle of bohemian intellectuals in Paris and Berlin. An Artists’ Association exhibition in Berlin, however, scandalized some critics, who derided his paintings as “sloppy and unfinished” and not “morally edifying.” Munch welcomed the scandal, soon mounting his own exhibition—for which he charged an entry fee. Ustvedt recounts Munch’s doomed love affairs, mental breakdown, and artistic frustrations, all feeding works that evoked—with swirling movement, brash colors, and ghostly images—“the emotional rather than the rational”: anxiety, vulnerability, and “the inner life of the soul.” Though receptive to the “sensibilities of the age,” Munch delved deeply into his psyche, believing that art must be “forced into being by a man’s compulsion to open his heart. All art…must be created with one’s lifeblood.”

A beautifully produced introduction to a celebrated artist. (130 illustrations)

Pub Date: July 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-29576-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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