The epistolary Eliot

The Letters of T.S. Eliot. Volume 8: 1936-1938 T.S. Eliot, Valerie Eliot, John Haffenden (eds.), Faber & Faber, 2019, 1,100pp + li, illus., £50 The Letters of T.S. Eliot. Volume 9: 1939-1941 T.S. Eliot, Valerie Eliot, John Haffenden (eds.), Faber & Faber, 2021, 1,072pp + lxix, illus., £60 ALEXANDER ADAMS loses himself in a great…

Images of Bacon

Francis Bacon, by Reginald Gray. Wikimedia Commons After/Après Francis Bacon Alexander Adams, Bristol: Golconda Fine Art Books, 2022, 60 pages, £10. English and French (French translation by Peggy Pancini) LIAM GUILAR follows an influential artist’s flamboyant trajectory through verse Some years ago, the Canadian critic, Hugh Kenner, in conversation with Charles Tomlinson, lamented the disappearance…

Modernism seen now

RICHARD GERSTL (1883–1908), Self-Portrait in front of a Stove, 1907. Oil on canvas on board. Neue Galerie New York Modern Worlds: Austrian and German Art, 1890-1940 Renée Price (ed.), Prestel/Neue Galerie, 2021, 656pp, $75/£55 ALEXANDER ADAMS is transported to a thrilling time of artistic experimentation The Neue Galerie in New York holds one of the world’s…

John Wyndham, genius and prophet

The Wyndham Collection John Wyndham, three vols. (Day of the Triffids, The Midwich Cuckoos, The Chrysalids), Folio Society, 2022, 704 pps, £125 ALEXANDER ADAMS finds 1950s classics have troublingly modern messages The publication of a clothbound boxset containing the classic novels Day of the Triffids, The Midwich Cuckoos and The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (1903-1969)…

Dreaming of utopias past

Henry Wrong, first administrator of the Barbican Centre, overlooking the build. Credit: Barbican Archive Building Utopia: The Barbican Centre Nicholas Kenyon et al, Batsford, 2022, 288pp, fully illus., £40 ALEXANDER ADAMS acknowledges a modernist monument’s coming of age My first exposure to the Barbican Centre came obliquely. In the children’s science-fiction drama The Tripods, when…

The evolutions of revolutionary architecture

A 1934 competition project, Narkomtiazhprom - from Soviet Design From Constructivism to Modernism,1920-1980 Anna Bokov, VKhUTEMAS and the Pedagogy of Space, 1920-1930 Park Books, 2021, 624pp, illus., $65 Katherine Zubovich, Moscow Monumental: Soviet Skyscrapers and Urban Life in Stalin’s Capital Princeton University, 2021, 274pp + xii, illus., £34 Kristina Krasnyanskaya, Alexander Semenov (eds.), Soviet Design…

The decadence and darkness of Symbolism

Caresses, by Fernand Khnopff Decadence and Dark Dreams: Belgian Symbolism Ralph Geis (ed.), Hirmer, 2020, hardback, 336pp, fully illus., €45/£42/$50 ALEXANDER ADAMS immerses himself in disquiet and dreamscapes Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie exhibition of Belgian Symbolists, Decadence and Dark Dreams: Belgian Symbolism, closed last month. As few were able to attend, for obvious reasons, this article…

The rights of the human heart: essays by Camus

via Wikimedia Commons Personal Writings Albert Camus, Penguin, 2020, 224 pages, £7.07 Committed Writings Albert Camus, Penguin, 2020, 160 pages, £7.21 ALEXANDER ADAMS revisits the rich oeuvre of one of 20th century France’s finest thinkers Albert Camus (1913-1960) confessed that he had one wellspring of inspiration: his Algerian childhood. His silent unlettered mother, his absent…

From iconoclasm to ruins

All paintings by the author ALEXANDER ADAMS surveys the story of deliberate destruction We are familiar with the folly and – from the Baroque period onward – the purposefully constructed ruin used to enhance the pathos of a place, most especially a view of a country estate. This would be a view that could be…