In the opening essay of I Is Style, editor Fuchs, director of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, notes that Schwitters “has thus far been either relatively absent or been presented as a curious outsider. He was much more important than that.” Both observations are true, but, one hopes, the two major exhibitions for which these catalogs were produced will help to raise his stature. I Is Style, accompanying a show seen in Amsterdam and Leipzig, mixes four essays on aspects of Schwitters’s career with nine of his own short writings, six remembrances by his contemporaries, and more than 75 illustrations of his “merz” collages. Unfortunately, the essays are rather poorly translated and do not provide the sort of introduction to the artist and his diverse career one would expect from a retrospective catalog. And, though the bright and clear illustrations offer works from the full range of his collage output (1918-47), one wishes for some examples of his painting, sculpture, installations, and typographic works. However, Schwitters’s poems and two-page autobiography (1926) and the recollections of friends are wonderful resources, which even those new to the artist will appreciate. The Sprengel Museum in Hanover, Schwitters’s beloved home until he fled the Nazis, has put together a show that is both more comprehensive and more focused. The curators/editors set out to demonstrate the artist’s continuing influence on many strands of contemporary art by presenting large-format illustrations of 230 works in all media by Schwitters as well as 80 more pieces by 32 other artists. The parallels between Schwitters and Louise Nevelson, Cy Twombly, Nam June Paik, Joseph Beuys, and other artists are sometimes subtle and sometimes striking but always thought-provoking. The ten short essays offer both biographical overview and investigations of his legacy to movements such as pop art, action art, installation art, and sound poetry.

German photographer Struth is among the artists from the celebrated D sseldorf School who studied under conceptualists Bernd and Hilla Becher in the 1970s and 1980s. Their rigid, deadpan style of uniform picture making proved a rich starting point, and in maturity Struth’s work excavates the nature of photography itself. Three new titles encapsulate the work of this important midcareer artist. Portraits, published on the occasion of Struth’s one-man exhibition at the Sprengel Museum in Hanover, contains the artist’s psychologically loaded frontal images of his human subjects. In the words of curator Weski, Struth’s camera is applied like “a two-way mirror,” reflecting both the photographer and his view of the subject with us, the viewer, as the third partner. Still presents an overview of the artist’s work, including his flower pieces, some portraiture, and his early street photos. Dubbed “subconscious places” by the photographer, the city roads, with their austerity and vanishing point perspective, convey multiple layers of history as well as the “photographic moment.” Museum Photographs, with its images of people viewing works of art in museums around the world, explores photography’s rivalry with painting as well as issues like how art changes by being in a museum, how it is displayed, and how we look at it. Including an outstanding essay by Belting, this slim, oversized book contains 17 large plates of the enormous photographs. In spite of its usefulness in bringing these works together and the high quality of the reproductions, this publication underscores an inherent difficulty in publishing Struth’s photography: because it is so much about photography itself, i.e., the photograph on the wall, this “translation” into book form strips away some meaning and a large portion of the effect. Both Museum Photographs and Portraits are recommended for larger art and photography collections, the former for its superior essay and the latter for its comprehensive look at this central series.

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