Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Michael Lally on “A Palpable Elyseum”

At his blog, poet and Black Sparrow author Michael Lally writes, “A Palpable Elysium contains photographs of some of the many friends and acquaintances [Jonathan Williams] made from the 1950s to the 1990s (the book was published in 2002), as well as some of their artwork or their gravestones. The photographs are often as casual as snapshots and sometimes as unexpectedly unique and / or flawed. But with his commentary added to each, they become something much more, something that typically cannot be described any better than Jonathan did himself in the title he gave this collection: A Palpable Elysium.

“Even if you don't have the same taste as Jonathan, and I sometimes don't, if you read his comments often linking his subjects to other artists and friends and then look up the lives and work of all those he mentions in this book, you will have given yourself an education, on the highest level, in a particularly rare contingent of the avant-garde of the second half of the 20th Century.

“For my taste, the book is worth owning just for the quality of its production, let alone the sometimes exquisite images (his photograph of poet William Carlos Williams not long before WCW passed is stunning and one I wish I had a framed print of hanging on my wall). But it's Jonathan's commentary that makes this book unique and worth paying attention to. His fearless judgements, his ribaldry, his appreciation of the lone genius creator whether renowned or unknown (he spent a lot of time searching out so-called ‘primitive’ or ‘outsider’ artists and even gives directions to their locations so you can drive the country back roads of rural Georgia or South Carolina and go see their work yourself!).”

No comments:

Post a Comment