Actors' headshots, manhole covers, forensic courtroom displays, Mexican wrestling, a sewage treatment plants may seem unlikely subjects for the gaze of an art critic, but then Ralph Rugoff - no ordinary critic - has an eye capable of discerning an aesthetic in the unlikeliest of locations. Rugoff wants to remind readers that art is not produced in a vacuum, but is a continuum of everyday life. In this spirit, this book takes us on a guided tour of some of the world's leading museums and some of the most unusual, including the L.A. County Sheriff's Museum, the Nixon Museum, the Liberace Museum, the Museum of Pathological Anatomy and the Museum of Jurassic Technology. They transport us to built spaces such as Citywalk, L.A.'s theme park of itself, around horsetracks and on freeways, barely pausing to point out that the visual appeal of a daring overpass and the aesthetic appeal of a curvilinear sculpture are not unrelated. They talk to us about the relationship between L.A. artists and theme park aesthetics, about the role of fantasy in contemporary architecture, about the art of the human body as revealed in nudist photography, bodybuilding and plastic surgery.
This book, emulating the talent of artists for making unexpected connections and juxtapositions, allows readers to perceive and enjoy the beautiful, the bizarre and the downright perverse in places we never thought of looking before.
Publisher: Verso Books
Number of pages: 220
Weight: 507 g
Dimensions: 280 x 210 x 11 mm
"Ralph Rugoff delights his readers with his customarily dizzying range and perennially deft sensibility but also with something more unusual, a real sense of discretion."--Lawrence Weschler, New Yorker
"As millenarian Western time loops, Ralph Rugoff presents a carnival of New World wonders: yesterday and tomorrow today."--Jon Savage, author of England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock and Beyond
"Ralph Rugoff gives us the critic as expert tracker, with brilliant flair for the vivid scene. By turns funny and alarming, affectionate and macabre, his writing is filled with thoughtful asides on the way we live now."--Marina Warner, author of From the Beast to the Blonde and Managing Monsters