umbrella on line

ISSN 0160-0699

Volume 29, No. 4, Dec 2006

From The Editor

Well, it’s hard to believe that almost a year has gone by when we launched this new format of Umbrella Online, but readers all over the world are enjoying it, renewing their subscriptions for 2007 and I hope this next year will bring faster news and notes on a regular basis, and longer journal articles and interviews. We keep being overwhelmed by news from all points, not only about artist books but also about wars, battles, hunger, and destruction of natural habitats. So information overload is part of almost everyday. I hasten to recommend that we all know how to sit down peacefully and read, a rare commodity these days with all the technological innovations that bombard us.

And as you read this, know that my rediscovery of Paris in October made for quite an education. Pompidou had a remarkable exhibition of Yves Klein, his films, his voice, his 150 works of art, and the amazing multimedia presentations that Pompidou does so well. Another remarkable Pompidou exhibition was about film and art, including films by Len Lye, Leger, Cornell, Wegman, Keaton, Baldessari, Nauman, Broodthaers and so many more intertwined with artist books, installations, paintings, sculpture and the profound interpretation of how cinema and art are intertwined.

The newly renovated and re-installed Museum of Decorative Arts proved to be a wonder with exhibitions of chairs, of furniture, and of toys and so much more using all the new technology and new curatorial skills of juxtaposition. And then there was Quai Branly, the anthropological museum created by Jean Nouvel with wonderful landscaping. The continents of Africa and Asia are amazingly presented with all the latest techniques, save for the fourth floor which seemed to be French propaganda for Western approaches to colonialism and spirituality.

Of course, the Louvre had the Da Vinci Code tourists seeking out that very small painting that has been a hit for a very long time, the Mona Lisa. Red umbrellas held up by tour guides were abundant. But what hit us between the eyeballs was a show not announced anywhere curated the Toni Morrison, the Toni Morrison who curated out of the Louvre’s print collection and included videotapes of contemporary artists about “the other” including a film by Buster Keaton!

And because it was the Autumn Festival in Paris, which allows foreign artists to be invited to create installations in unusual venues, we did see Ernesto Neto’s great Leviathan Thon installed in all of the Pantheon. It was the most photogenic installation, and the videotape of the installation was in both French and in English, showing the Brazilian artist with a great sense of humor and finesse. There were many other installations in unusual venues as well, making for nice lunch breaks at the conference of art critics which I attended. We did get out to the suburbs where some of the best contemporary art is hidden in venues supported by the city. Young curators get a chance to install interesting shows, which most of my artist friends have never seen. So it was a rare opportunity to cover many venues in a short time.

Now that we have 28 years of Umbrella now online, thanks to the cooperation and collaboration of Indiana University-Purdue and the great librarian, Sonia Staum-Kuniej, at Herron School of Art, the database is now completely searchable, and one can do research on artist books from another angle. We are indebted to Sonia and her team and hope some of you avail yourselves of the chance to read back issues and use Umbrella as a resource.

So I ask you all to re-subscribe for 2007 online. There will be another reminder, so please use Paypal or whatever method you deem convenient. I wish you all a Happy Holiday season and a Happy New Year, one full of peace, peace for us all so that we can indeed go forward with a positive stance. May we all feel some hope for the world.

— jah