Red

Stephanie Busuttil-Cesar

Published by Assouline Publishing, 2000
ISBN 10: 2843232228 / ISBN 13: 9782843232220
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Synopsis: Violent, mystical, powerful, hot, sensual and sophisticated, red is the color. This book is a celebration of the color red in its various incarnations in religion, fashion, design, medicine, architecture, and contemporary art. A voyage to Fellini and Kurosawa, James Turrell, Fontana, Picasso and Caravaggio, Richard Neutra and Nick Knight. Violent red of Andy Warhol, Mondino or Cindy Sherman. Mystical red of cardinals, of Buddhist rituals, of Serrano or Anish Kapoor. Sophisticated red of geishas, lacquer, of Barragan and Villa Malaparte. Aggressive red of bordellos, lingerie, Nan Goldin and David LaChapelle. Shocking red of bullfights and Africa. Containing more shades than can be found in the Pantone range. Bound in the imagination with the forbidden, the taboo, red provokes, fascinates, repulses and attracts but never leaves us indifferent.

Review: The marketing gurus say, "If you can't make it good, make it big. And if you can't make it big, paint it red." That's the theme of this sumptuously produced book from Assouline (one of the most consistently interesting art-book publishers, based in Paris). So why this attraction for red? And why so uncontrollable?

Like all the primary colors, red refers to something that already exists in nature, but it refers above all to blood. The symbolism of red is made up of life, death, femininity, virility, evil, saintliness, and holiness. Here in spread after spread of gorgeous photographs, red is celebrated in a completely original examination of the evocative power of color. From the red of Napoleon's coronation costume to the brilliance of those electronic teletape letters at the butcher shop, we are presented with a fresh look at exactly how color intrudes upon and complements our daily existence.

When red is sexual (and in this book it often is), it's the red of racing cars and firemen, the irresistible apple red sold by the witch to Snow White. Women wear red to stimulate the senses and the libido. In sub-Saharan Africa, they coat themselves with red on the eve of their wedding day. The same occurs in certain Indian tribes, where women paint themselves red to attract their lovers. The systematic symbolism of sensual red lips, calling to mind a proffered female sexual organ, is taken to outrageous limits in Man Ray's L'heure de l'observatoire des amoureux, with that immense red mouth hanging in the sky.

The perfect book both for those who maintain an attraction and for those who are revolted by red, this paean to the bold color of violence comes full to the brim with spectacular photographs--from Claude Leveque's "Stigmata" installation at P.S.1 in New York to Pierre & Gilles' "Purgatory" to William Wegman's hilarious weimaraners in Little Red Riding Hood drag. Produced in beautiful scarlet cloth and with pages trimmed in red, the book itself, as interior-design object, would serve as a brilliant counterpoint carefully placed on an Eileen Gray cocktail table in a Zen-like black-and-white setting. John Pawson would approve. --Charles Decker

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Red
Publisher: Assouline Publishing
Publication Date: 2000
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Good

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