Friday, July 02, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 149 (7/2) -- Spectrum 16 edited by Cathy & Arnie Fenner

Annuals are difficult books to critique -- either a critic has to first establish a baseline from previous books in the series (and risk diving too far into minutia and losing any less-than-completely-devoted readers), or has to go in completely the opposite direction, and act as if the book in hand is the only thing that matters (which has its own problems). Art annuals add an additional layer of complexity -- what we might call the dancing-about-architecture issue -- in that what's most important and vital about any piece of art can't be translated into words in the first place.

For more than a dozen years, I didn't worry about the Spectrum annuals -- as always, collecting the best in "fantastic" art (a deliberately broad term, left to be interpreted widely by entrants and judges) of the previous year, curated by Cathy and Arnie Fenner and judged by a new panel each year -- but just bought them for my then-employer, the SF Book Club, and let our staff copywriters figure out the proper words to describe just how swell they were. (And, even there, the copy tended to be short, full of adjectives and names of artists -- since we could actually show art, which does a better job of selling an art book than any number of words can.) More recently, I've been an ordinary schmo, and buy them for my own shelves.

Last year, I said most of what could be said about Spectrum 15, and nearly all of that applies to this year's book as well. It's, as always, the best look at what's going on in all of the pieces of the fantastic-art world, from advertising to magazines to book covers to comics to statues to even less likely things. (There were a bunch of great opera posters about five or seven years ago, for example.) If you like imaginative art, this is the book to get every year; it's just that simple.
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
Listening to: Ann Vriend - St Paul
via FoxyTunes

1 comment:

Jon said...

When I saw the title of this anthology, I wondered if it had anything to do with an earlier series of Spectrum anthologies I have in my collection. I have Spectrum 1, 2 and 3, edited by Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest, published in 1961, 62, and 63. Unless they just took a long hiatus and started back up, I suppose not, or it would be up around Spectrum 50 at this point.

Post a Comment