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Freelancer Frank (Dublin)

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Grandville
Grandville
by Bryan Talbot
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Preserved Noir Dogs, 11 July 2013
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This review is from: Grandville (Hardcover)
This is a book about conspiracy. The story and characters tend to run to the cliche. The originality lies in the artwork, visual imagination and the use of animals in the place of people. It is an enjoyable enough read for those who enjoy their badgers on the Tarantino side.


Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity (Art Institute of Chicago)
Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity (Art Institute of Chicago)
by Gloria Groom
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uniform Light Source, 9 Jun. 2013
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This is a book about some of the aims and methods of Parisian painters in the late 1800s. It particularly focuses on their notions of modernity and how this influences their work. One idea considered particularly modern was a view of life as comprised of transitory moments and movements. This view, probably influenced by the rise of photography, is at the root of the emphasis in the works on fashion and public spaces. The fashions depicted are full of coded symbolism, due to the complexity of rules governing what could be worn, by whom, and at what time and place. The book is erudite and full of insight. The reproductions are universally wonderful.


Nothing To Envy: Real Lives In North Korea
Nothing To Envy: Real Lives In North Korea
Price: £6.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside Stories, 24 May 2013
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This is a book about surviving North Korea. Even if one expects a horrific account of daily life in the country, shocking insights remain in the details - the way, for example, that the government gave each citizen portraits of their leaders and a cloth to clean them with - in addition to regular inspections to check that the portraits remained dust free. All the accounts feel entirely believable. Given what these people have been through, the would be 'down to earth' almost by definition, and their stories feel honest and unblemished by exaggeration. In recounting defector's histories, the book gives the lie to the notion that North Koreans are so indoctrinated that it would be impossible to change them now. There is indoctrination and it goes deep but it relies heavily on a lack of knowledge about the outside world. In almost all cases, as soon as the individuals in this book saw something of life elsewhere, they simply gave up their illusion and tried to adapt to the new reality.


Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
by Alison Bechdel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny, peculiar, 24 May 2013
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This is a book about sexuality. The dynamic - of gay and lesbian father/daughter, dressed in repression and housed in a literally funereal setting - is entirely original and intriguing. The drawing (particularly the edits and zooms) works very well with the subject matter. The work, however, is tinged with a self-absorption that detracts from any more universal message. It feels somewhat one-sided.


Snapshot: Painter/Photographers from Bonnard to Vuillard (Phillips Collection)
Snapshot: Painter/Photographers from Bonnard to Vuillard (Phillips Collection)
by Elizabeth W. Easton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £31.50

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars View finding, 12 May 2013
This is a book about the impact of the dawn of photography on a group of late nineteenth century artists known as the Nabis. The examination focuses on photographs taken by the artists themselves, the reasons the images were taken and the influence of those images on their artworks (and sometimes vice versa). In some cases, the influence is very direct (where the artist copies one of their photographs), while in others the influence is more opaque - a general feel for light and composition in the photographs is noted also in the artworks. The major insight is in how, even with a very direct influence, the artist often improves on the photograph in purely painterly terms - demonstrating the notion that photography simply killed of representative art is too simplistic. The great fascination of the book is in how the photographs reveal an immediate in intimate knowledge of the artists and of the works they created.


A Delicate Truth
A Delicate Truth
Price: £4.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fifty shades of grey area, 11 May 2013
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This review is from: A Delicate Truth (Kindle Edition)
This is a book about the possibilities of moral relativism. The characters are all compromised in their own ways, and the story concerns how they compromise further and to what degree. Le Carre plays a lot of engaging tricks with time in the narrative. In a way, time takes the place of the Soviet Union - it is the new monolith against which the individual struggles to keep their integrity intact. Le Carre subtly paints a picture of the world in which all values are potentially undermined, and his open-ended conclusion fits this viewpoint perfectly.


The Secret Museum
The Secret Museum
by Molly Oldfield
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quaint, Interesting., 6 May 2013
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This review is from: The Secret Museum (Hardcover)
This is a book about museums. It appears to be aimed at a family audience and would probably appeal to young adults. The author is a researcher for British television program 'QI' and the book reads like a research tome for that program. It is a somewhat beautiful thing with a patina of fascination about it. The content is a little patchy but more frequently absorbing than not. The emphasis tends not to be on the secrecy, as suggested by the title, but more on the museum and context of the objects mentioned. The work scores most highly on being unique.


The Orphan Master's Son
The Orphan Master's Son
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars All The Stage Is A World, 4 May 2013
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This is a book about indoctrination. Life in North Korea is imagined through the prism of Orwell. Many of the tricks and insights in 1984 are deployed or extended here. The characters are, by necessity, somewhat lacking dimension - but this is a political thing and the real human drama comes in the moments when they reveal themselves fully. There is a nice switch in the middle section where the state apparently appropriates the narrative, and the story becomes increasingly tough and paranoid, but this wins in terms of art. Having lived in an ex-Communist country, I feel as if the book has more of a 'deliberately unreal' feel to it (matching, of course, the purpose of North Korea itself) - but this, too, works on its own terms.


Great Works: 50 Paintings Explored
Great Works: 50 Paintings Explored
by Tom Lubbock
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars What is right with this picture?, 28 April 2013
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This is a book about complexity and specificity in painting. Lubbock makes idiosyncratic choices and always highlights a new aspect, but he works within the standard forms of art criticism, is always illuminating and never repeats himself. He often employs an engaging tactic of first discussing an interesting subject, apparently unconnected with the work at hand, then bringing the two together. The book and reproductions are on the small side but large enough to get the point across. It is nicely printed with an elegant and beautiful typeface.


A History of the World in 100 Objects
A History of the World in 100 Objects
by Dr Neil MacGregor
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars One Hundred Wonders, 28 April 2013
This is a book about common humanity. Each object is accompanied by a commentary, all of around equal length, that places the object in context, describes its features and explains what it reveals about the society in which it was made and humanity in general. The commentaries manage the difficult task of being simultaneously elucidating, fascinating and filled with factual detail. The level of detail might appear to make the book hard-going, but attentive reading is rewarding here and, having read the book chronologically, it is perfectly possible to return to a few favorite objects and re-read to learn even more. The objects themselves are almost always both intrinsically interesting, and revealing in context. The BBC site that accompanies the book is an excellent supplement to it.


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