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Baroque Baroque: The Culture of Excess Hardcover – 17 Nov 1994

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More About the Author

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Product Description


'The most provocative and stimulating style book of the year.' (The New York Times)

'Baroque Baroque is a carefully written and wonderfully illustrated book ... it helps to define the notion of Englishness itself.' (The Times)

'The sort of book that could itself become a landmark in taste.' (Country Life)

About the Author

Stephen Calloway is Associate Curator of Paintings at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. He is also a writer, lecturer, designer and consultant on historical interiors, and a frequent contributor to television and radio programmes. His books include Twentieth Century Decoration, The House of Liberty, The Elements of Style, Oscar Wilde, An Exquisite Life and Aubrey Beardsley.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Treasure... 4 Sept. 2005
By C. T. Northrup - Published on
Format: Paperback
After over ten years in my collection, this book continues to inspire and enthrall me. I was originally lured in by the books' physical beauty (gold and hot pink...who could refuse?), but the text, too, keeps me coming back. It is highly imaginative by way of subject, but also by way concept and design.

With this book Mr. Calloway introduced me to a whole world of seemingly "obscure" artists, designers, photographers and filmmakers that I may not have discoverd and enjoyed quite so soon in my life (for this I say THANKS!). I was an art history student in college at the time, and I certainly wasn't learning about this sort of "Baroque", while studying Bernini.

My favorite "discoveries" from this book include:

Jean Cocteau (J'adore!), Elsa Schiaparelli, Cecil Beaton, Angus McBean, Derek Jarman, Pierre et Gilles, Edith Sitwell and Clough Williams-Ellis' Portmeirion in Wales. It set me on path in my life searching for the overlooked, the strange and georgeous things that Calloway's British perspective and knowledge helped bring to my attention. If the lives and works of these figures interest you, than this "dandy" of a book is for you. Explore the obscure, enjoy the sublime, dream the dreams of will never die, only inspire us to survive.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
all about 20th century's taste for decorative flamboyancy 15 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
The book is about the decorative arts and tendencies in fashion, portraiture, phtography, and in cinema. As such, it covers the entire ten decades of the 20th century, with a heavy emphasis on the British stuff -- Cecil Beaton's very "gay" sensibilities for the theatre and later, of course, Peter Greenaway's Caravaggioesque obsessions in film. Some very elegant and justifiably famous photographs are reproduced here, including those shot for Dior and Co. Also valuable are some rare photo-stills taken from cinema. But, on the whole, the book relies on the idea that the "Baroque" is a state of mind, therefore anything flamboyant goes. The book does well showcase the fundamental difference between the works done during the high Baroque period and the 20th century obsession for the bizzare. While the former almost always bore the virility of taking delight in excess, the latter appears to be decidedly Narcissistic, regurgitative and effete. The book shows to what extent the European sensibility has become "Chinese" in modern times with its incessant wistful harking back to a fixed style of pre-conceived form of elegance and behavior.
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