BE -- Fine Arts

  An RREO Original Review

Dictionnaire du surréalisme [Dictionary of Surrealism]. Clébert, Jean-Paul. Paris: Seuil, 1996. 608 p. ill. 25 cm. ISBN 2020245884: 350 FF.

Jean-Paul Clébert, author of the Dictionnaire du surréalisme, has had an abiding interest in the movement and a close association with at least two of its representative painters, Jacques Hérold and André Masson. His previous work, Paris insolite (1952), drew inspiration from a personal pilgrimage to the cafés, bistros, and galleries frequented by the Surrealists in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Dictionnaire introduces, in alphabetical order, major figures and minor players in the Surrealist movement in addition to writers of a younger generation who sought to revive it in the aftermath of Breton's death in 1966. The biographical entries vary in length. Artaud, Breton, Dalí, and Buñel, for example, are accorded two- to three-page essays. Clébert revisits the places where the Surrealists met to debate the issues of the day, with the geographical coverage now extended to include other European cities and the Americas. There are entries for texts and publications such as Nadja, Littérature, Poisson soluble, and the various manifestoes that constituted Surrealism's aesthetic, political, and literary expressions. The dictionary also highlights the recurrent themes, symbols, and devices that inspired and permeated Surrealist works: the automatism, "le cadavre exquis," the alchemy and magic, the dreams, the poetic analogies, and the fantastic bestiary.

In the period between 1920 and the onset of World War II, Breton and his followers were attracted to the political ideologies of Marxism and Communism. Breton's relationship with Trotsky, whom he visited in Mexico, endured until the revolutionary's assassination in 1940, but, as Clébert argues, many Surrealists found these alliances uneasy and constrictive. Breton himself would eventually opt for anarchism. Two extensive essays on politics and Surrealism attest to the author's scholarship and to his familiarity with contemporary artistic and political currents.

The art, photographs, film, and other illustrative materials have been carefully selected. Several portraits and paintings have been reproduced from the originals in private collections. Bibliographic citations appear at the end of each entry. Although the Dictionnaire lacks a general index, cross-references to other topics are marked by asterisks inserted in the text. This attractive and readable work stands as a welcome contribution to the history of a movement that, to Breton, embodied "absolute realism." At a reasonable cost, it is highly recommended for college and university reference collections.

Ceres B. Birkhead, University of Utah


Kunstgeschichte digital: eine Einführung für Praktiker und Studierende [Digital Art History: An Introduction for Practitioners and Students]. Ed. Hubertus Kohle. Berlin: Reimer, 1997. 213 p. ill. 21 cm. ISBN 3-496-01163-7: DM 39.80

This collection of articles focuses on the application of electronic technologies in the field of art history. The authors come from a variety of areas within the profession. Their contributions cluster around five general topics: libraries, research and teaching, preservation, museums, and the Internet. The articles document individual projects that have been undertaken in applying electronic technology to art history, including multimedia and other forms of electronic publishing and the online union catalog presently under development in Florence, Munich, and Rome. [jp/mjc]


Bibliographie zur thüringischen Kunstgeschichte und angrenzender Gebiete 1973 bis 1993 [Bibliography of the Art History of Thuringia and Related Fields]. Rosemarie Teschner for the Thüringisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege. Bad Homburg; Leipzig: Verlag Ausbildung + Wissen, 1997. x, 317 p. 28 cm. ISBN 3-927879-89-4: DM 68.00

This work updates a bibliography of Thuringian art history that originally appeared in a series called Schriften zur Kunstgeschichte, devoted to territories that were part of the German Democratic Republic. Since the period of coverage of the earlier volume extends to mid-1971, this new bibliography should, its title notwithstanding, actually cover the period from 1971 on, which is in fact the case (though the earlier years are skimpy). The arrangement of the earlier bibliography is preserved in this updated volume, with sections covering general topics, comprehensive works, architecture, sculpture, painting and graphic arts, crafts, and folklore. It includes over 8,000 entries, compared to 6,214 for the earlier volume, which covered a much longer period of time.

This new bibliography is derived almost completely from other bibliographic sources, which accounts for a certain inconsistency in the format of the entries. The Thüringen-Bibliographie appears to be the main source of entries, which may explain the inclusion of many titles without any immediate relation to art, such as works concerned primarily with library and information science. As with the Thüringen-Bibliographie, this volume indexes newspaper articles. There are indexes by author, personal subject, and place. The ongoing database from which this bibliography derives is available for use in the Thuringian State Office of Monuments (Landesamt für Denkmalpflege).

Similar supplements (with stricter criteria for coverage) should be undertaken for the remaining areas of the new federal states, and the art history of the "old" states of the Federal Republic would do well with this kind of bibliographic attention. [sh/sbd]


Stadt Leipzig [City of Leipzig]. München; Berlin : Deutscher Kunstverlag. 27 cm. (Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler von Sachsen)

Die Sakralbauten: mit einem Überblick über die städtebauliche Entwicklung von den Anfängen bis 1989 [Religious Structures: With an Overview of the Leipzig's Architectural History from the Beginnings to 1989]. Ed. Heinrich Magirius. ISBN 3-422-00568-4: 396.00 DM

Vol. 1 (1995). xv, 803 p. ill.

Vol. 2 (1995). viii p., p. 810-1363. ill.

This two-volume inventory of religious structures is the first part of a comprehensive inventory of historic buildings in Leipzig. Although based on preliminary work which began in 1965, a change in editorial focus after 1989 made it possible to include much more information about structures which no longer stand, such as the city's synagogues, and the university church of St. Paul, demolished in an act of vandalism by the government in 1968. This church now assumes a place of equal importance alongside the two main churches of the city, the churches of St. Thomas and St. Nicholas.

The wealth of textual and visual documentation presented in these volumes makes this a work appealing not only to architecture specialists. Those interested in music will enjoy the detailed description of the organ in the church of St. Thomas, and its seating plan is informative to anyone interested in social history. Introductory articles on Leipzig architectural history precede the actual inventory in volume one; volume two includes an index . [ak/sbd]


Baden-Württemberg. Rev. ed. München: Deutscher Kunstverlag. 19 cm. (Handbuch der deutschen Kunstdenkmäler)

Vol. 2. Die Regierungsbezirke Freiburg und Tübingen [The Districts of Freiburg and Tübingen]. Ed. Dagmar Zimdars, et al. Rev. ed. 1997. viii, 906 p. ISBN 3-422-03030-1: DM 75.00


Sachsen [Saxony]. Rev. ed. München: Deutscher Kunstverlag. 19 cm. (Handbuch der deutschen Kunstdenkmäler)

Vol. 1. Regierungsbezirk Dresden [District of Dresden]. Ed. Barbara Bechter, Wiebke Fastenrath, et al. 1996. xi, 934 p. ISBN 3-422-03043-3: DM 68.00

These new volumes are very welcome additions to the series known as "Dehio," or Handbuch der deutschen Kunstdenkmäler (see "Special Report: Inventories of Architectural Landmarks: A Typology on the Basis of Selected New Publications," RREA 1:364/RREO 95-3-403). A revised understanding of the concept of "landmark" and the recent territorial changes in Germany have led to significant revisions in the content of the Dehio guides. The volume for the districts of Freiburg and Tübingen now joins the first volume (the districts of Karlsruhe and Stuttgart), to complete coverage for the southwestern Land of Baden- Württemberg. Work on the first volume of the revised edition for the eastern Land of Saxony, covering the Dresden area, began in 1992 and was concluded in 1996. The final second volume for the districts of Chemnitz and Leipzig is in preparation.

Both volumes follow the well-known structure of other Dehio volumes: arrangement by locality, then in alphabetical order religious structures, followed by secular structures, arranged by turn according to whether they are public or residential buildings, fountains, monuments, or museums. Detailed maps and contextual history are provided for larger or more significant towns.

The revisions undertaken in these two new volumes are readily apparent. The scope of coverage is expanded significantly. The 591-page single volume for Baden-Württemberg published in 1964 has now grown to two volumes, of which the second, covering southern Baden-Württemberg alone, comprises 906 pages. The quality and depth of the descriptions has also been expanded. In their conception, these new revisions now resemble the best of the volumes in Reclam's Kunstführer series--which itself has unfortunately been discontinued. They derive from an expanded understanding of "landmark" to extend beyond single buildings to ensembles and larger-scale urban architectural organization, with a greater interest in the historical and architectural contexts. Further, the scope of "landmark" now includes the very recent past, and indeed the present. In other words: where there were chronologies there are now texts, clearly with an eye to practical use and a wider readership. The newer Dehio volumes also contain more plans and maps, again with the intention of situating details more strongly in their context.

In the case of the entry for Freiburg, the revised volumes provide greater coverage of structures from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as from "newer" parts of the city. Although Dresden's Baroque architecture remains central in its volume, the scope has expanded to include important structures in all areas of the city, as well as industrial structures. Issues surrounding the restoration of war-damaged buildings, more or less a closed chapter and thus very briefly described in the case of Freiburg, are still very topical in Dresden, most notably in the article on the "Frauenkirche," but in many of the other articles as well as in the volume's general perspective.

These Dehio volumes will serve as valuable guides to German architectural landmarks for years to come, and will complement comprehensive inventory projects already underway. [ak/sbd]


Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmale in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern [Architectural and Artistic Landmarks in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern]. Published for the Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Berlin: Henschel- Verlag. 23 cm

Vorpommersche Küstenregion: mit Stralsund, Greifswald, Rügen und Usedom [Coastal Region of Vorpommern: With Stralsund, Greifswald, Rügen and Usedom]. Ed. Gerd Baier of the Abteilung Forschung und Dokumentation. 1995. 643 p. ISBN 3-89487-222-5: DM 59.80

According to the foreword, this work continues the series Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Though substantially true, this claim is bibliographically inaccurate. The previous volumes appeared in the series Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmale in der DDR, but without division into regional subseries. Its final volume (1990) was on the coast of Mecklenburg, to which the present volume is a kind of sequel. Localities covered in the earlier volume that properly belong to this one have been omitted entirely-there are not even any references to guide the reader to the relevant pages of the Mecklenburg volume. The unscholarly standards in the bibliographical section result in bibliographic information that is of so little use that it would better have been left out entirely.

Entries are arranged by district and locality, but the lack of running and column titles makes this work difficult to use. With the exception of several larger towns, which merit more extensive entries, one often finds mere lists of monuments, with spare descriptive comments. Lacking documentation, historical descriptions, or photographs, this volume does not meet the standards of a scholarly comprehensive inventory, nor do the descriptions pretend to equal those of briefer inventories, as found in the revised Dehio series. [ak/sbd]


Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: eine Bilddokumentation [Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: A Documentation in Pictures]. Ed. Diethart Kerbs. Berlin: be.bra-Verlag, 1997. 192 p. ill. 25 cm. (Fotografie und Gedächtnis) ISBN 3-930863-22-7: DM 48.00

Considering the deficiencies of the officially-published inventory, one gladly consults additional publications which at least partially remedy its shortcomings. In this sense, this volume reveals a new architectural landscape. Work on the series Fotografie und Gedächtnis took place from 1993 to 1996 and resulted in volumes for the federal states of Brandenburg and Saxony- Anhalt as well. Photographers from eastern and western Germany have produced a work that is "artistic," an outstanding example of documentary and (especially) architectural photography. [ak/sbd]


Die böhmischen Länder: Handbuch der Denkmäler und Gedenkstätten europäischer Kulturbeziehungen in den böhmischen Ländern [The Bohemian Lands: Handbook of Landmarks to and Memorials of European Cultural Relations in the Bohemian Lands]. Hugo Rokyta. Praha: Vitalis-Buchverlag. 24 cm. (Vitalis-Buchverlag, U Luzického Semináre 19, CZ-11800 Praha 1, fax [42 2] 531 554)

Vol. 1. Prag. 2d rev. and expanded ed. 1995. 374 p. ill. ISBN 80-901621-7-7: DM 59.00
Vol. 2. Böhmen [Bohemia]. 2d rev. and expanded ed. 1997. 347 p. ISBN 80-85938-23-5: DM 59.00
Vol. 3. Mähren und Schlesien [Moravia and Silesia]. 2d rev. and expanded ed. 1997. 147 p. ill. ISBN 80-85938-17-0: DM 59.00

Neither quite a guide, nor an inventory, this three-volume revision of a work that originally appeared in 1970 in one volume is a problematic hybrid, listing and briefly describing important landmarks, with reference to historic events and especially historic markers, memorial plaques, etc., for significant (and many not-so-significant) individuals, with quotations from tombstones, poems, etc.

The Prague volume is arranged by district and then by building. The index is comprehensive, but difficult to use. The other two volumes are organized alphabetically by location (in Czech, with the German name in brackets). The numerous black-and-white illustrations in the first and third volumes are of good quality. Volume two contains an index of locations and persons, which cumulate into one index in the third volume. Volume three also includes a selective bibliography, which cannot compensate for the lack of any bibliographic references elsewhere.

A useful work for travelers interested in Czech-German cultural relations, but only of limited use as a library research tool. [sh/sl]


Topographie der historischen und kunstgeschichtlichen Denkmale in dem Bezirke Karlsbad: (Prag 1933) [Topography of Historical and Art Historical Landmarks in the District of Carlsbad: (Prague 1933)]. Anton Gnirs for the Collegium Carolinum. München: Oldenbourg, 1996. 262 p. + 404 ill. on plates. 24 cm. (Handbuch der sudetendeutschen Kulturgeschichte, 8). ISBN 3- 486-56170-7: DM 96.00

Originally intended to be volume 52 of an inventory of Czech landmarks edited by the art historian and archaeologist Anton Gnirs (1873-1933), this posthumously published volume has been updated with over 300 annotations. It is organized by German locality, with the Czech name in parentheses. (The index, on the other hand, refers from the Czech to the German name.) The manner of presentation is from another era: included are lists of artists and craftsmen taken from the builders' invoices, as well as inventories and valuations, with prices; descriptions of buildings are repeatedly followed by passages of text taken from the artists' contracts. A generous bibliography, with an emphasis on more recent literature, follows the text itself, followed in turn by indexes of persons and places, and a large section of photographs, in which older (usually dated) and newer (usually undated) images are juxtaposed. Given that the Czech Republic is Europe's richest site of Baroque architecture, a resumption of the inventory of Czech landmarks remains a major desideratum. [sh/sl]

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Last update: July 31, 2000 [RD]
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