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3.0 out of 5 stars Good Plates and Biographical Details Compensate for Unhelpful Essays, 2 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Pierre Klossowski (Hardcover)
Pierre Klossowski was the elder brother of Balthazar Klossowski, better known as the artist Balthus. Both boys were from artistic parents and developed differing careers in the arts themselves. Much of Pierre's early output was concerned with translating novels and philosophical works from German into French, the language of the adopted country of their parents. Pierre began writing mildly erotic novels and also began drawing black and white pencil images to illustrate the text, the first being published in 1953 when Klossowski was 48 years old. It was only in 1972 that Pierre Klossowski, at the age of 67 years, began to write and translate less in order to concentrate on drawing with coloured pencil, many of his images feature a likeness of his wife, Denise.
This catalogue, published to accompany an exhibition of Klossowski's work at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, in the autumn of 2006, contains examples of his black and white drawings dating from the 1950s and colour pencil work from the 1970s and 80s. A number of photographs from Klossowski's illustrated erotic novel, `La Monnaie vivante', published in 1970 are also included. The title literally means, `Living Currency' and refers to this literary and philosophical essay about a Sadean republic in which women, boys and girls, are used as payment for pleasure. The writings of Sade and Nietzsche being a recurring theme in Klossowski's oeuvre. Klossowski wrote a highly regarded book on the philosophy of Nietzsche. Several photographs of the three dimensional resin figures that were produced to realise his drawings are also shown. In summary, the catalogue contains four essays, a series of plates, and then a very comprehensive list of works and an equally detailed chronology of the life and work of the author/artist.
For my own part I found the essays almost incomprehensible with many references to French philosophers including Michel Foucault and Georges Bataille and much discussion about philosophy, mythology and recurring erotic themes that appear in the work of Klossowski. To me, experts should endeavour to make a subject comprehensible and accessible and avoid long displays of their supposed erudition which simply serves to obscure and complicate the meaning of the essay.
The mildly erotic plates are fascinating and show Klossowski to have a highly distinctive and unusual talent and the detailed and lengthy chronology is perhaps the most useful part of the text. The book is good for the illustrations and chronology but I doubt many readers will learn much from the essays and it is for this reason that I cannot give a high rating despite the undoubted interest of this unusual catalogue.
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Dr. R. Brandon
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Location: England

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