Houdini: Art and Magic

Overview

Born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest, Hungary, Harry Houdini (1874–1926) was a rabbi’s son who became one of the 20th century’s most famous performers. His gripping theatrical presentations and heart-stopping outdoor spectacles attracted unprecedented crowds, and his talent for self-promotion and provocation captured headlines on both sides of the Atlantic.

Though Houdini’s work has earned him a place in the cultural pantheon, the details of his personal life and public persona are ...

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Overview

Born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest, Hungary, Harry Houdini (1874–1926) was a rabbi’s son who became one of the 20th century’s most famous performers. His gripping theatrical presentations and heart-stopping outdoor spectacles attracted unprecedented crowds, and his talent for self-promotion and provocation captured headlines on both sides of the Atlantic.

Though Houdini’s work has earned him a place in the cultural pantheon, the details of his personal life and public persona are subjects of equal fascination. His success was both cause for celebration in the Jewish community and testament to his powers of self-reinvention. In Houdini: Art and Magic, essays on the artist’s life and work are accompanied by interviews with novelist E. L. Doctorow, magician Teller (of Penn and Teller), and contemporary artists including Raymond Pettibon and Matthew Barney, documenting Houdini’s evolution and influence from the late 19th century to the present. Beautifully illustrated with a range of visual material, including Houdini’s own diaries, iconic handcuffs, and straitjacket, alongside rare period posters, prints, and photographs, this book brings Houdini—both the myth and the man—back to life.

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Editorial Reviews

Jewish Book World

“A first-rate contribution to the Houdini canon.”—Jewish Book World
Vanity Fair

"A handsome catalogue."—Vanity Fair
Pop Matters

"Images from the exhibition make up the bulk of this book. The materials gathered here are eye-popping promotional ephemera, family photographs, and a mountain of visual representations of Houdini. . . . Any Houdini fan must own this book, though it will also have wide-crossover appeal for those interested in topics as diverse as the Jewish experience in America to the graphic arts and historical representation. Thoughtfully written and gorgeously designed, it''s the perfect introduction to the master of escapes."—W. Scott Poole, Pop Matters

— W. Scott Poole

Pop Matters - W. Scott Poole

"Images from the exhibition make up the bulk of this book. The materials gathered here are eye-popping promotional ephemera, family photographs, and a mountain of visual representations of Houdini. . . . Any Houdini fan must own this book, though it will also have wide-crossover appeal for those interested in topics as diverse as the Jewish experience in America to the graphic arts and historical representation. Thoughtfully written and gorgeously designed, it's the perfect introduction to the master of escapes."—W. Scott Poole, Pop Matters
Jewish Book Council - National Jewish Book Awards Finalist

Finalist for the 2011 National Jewish Book Awards in the Visual Arts category, sponsored by the Jewish Book Council
Library Journal
This volume, published in association with The Jewish Museum, is a companion to a major exhibition of Harry Houdini's life and work that will be touring museums around the United States in 2011 after its current stop in New York. Rapaport, the show's curator, delves into Houdini's astonishing career as a magician and celebrity as well as his life growing up as a rabbi's son in the late 1800s in an atmosphere of anti-Semitism. There are gorgeous color photographs documenting his life, his work, and his influence on other artists such as Andy Warhol, Matthew Barney, and Edward Hopper. The book even provides details on many of Houdini's most famous tricks such as the metamorphosis trunk and the straitjacket. This engrossing look also features essays by Houdini experts across several disciplines. VERDICT Highly recommended for readers interested in celebrity biographies, Harry Houdini, performing arts, magicians, magic tricks, escape artists, Jewish celebrities, and biographies.—Sally Bryant, Pepperdine Univ. Lib., Malibu, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300146844
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2010
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 496,835
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Brooke Kamin Rapaport is a curator and writer.  Alan Brinkley is the Allan Nevins Professor of History at Columbia University.  Gabriel de Guzman is Neubauer Family Foundation Curatorial Assistant at The Jewish Museum.  Hasia R. Diner is Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History at New York University.  Kenneth Silverman is professor emeritus at New York University.
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