Life Cast: Behind the Mask

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Hardcover New This photographic exploration of artist Willa Shalit's plaster masks of 30 world-famous personalities--Paul Newman, Sting, Whoopi Goldberg, Cling Eastwood, and ... others--includes her thoughts about making art accessible to the blind. Willa Shalit is the daughter of Today show commentator Gene Shalit, and her work has been featured on television and in the press. 40 photos. Read more Show Less

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Hardcover New This photographic exploration of artist Willa Shalit's plaster masks of 30 world-famous personalities--Paul Newman, Sting, Whoopi Goldberg, Cling Eastwood, and ... others--includes her thoughts about making art accessible to the blind. Willa Shalit is the daughter of Today show commentator Gene Shalit, and her work has been featured on television and in the press. 40 photos. Read more Show Less

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Shalit's work arouses a complex of responses. On one level, to cast the rich and celebrated in alginate gel and plaster seems an exercise in kitsch--a self-conscious, paint-by-the-number effort to fit snugly into Shalit's ``Please Touch!'' national art exhibition geared to helping the blind ``see'' and the sighted ``experience'' with their hands. On another level, even as platitudes about life casting's inherent ability to ``show us what lies behind the mask'' force the issue, the simplicity and the elegance of the layout and design do in fact reveal the flip side of glitz. Shalit supports her boiled-down depictions of the stars with childlike observations about the truth behind celebrityhood that magnify the irony of the mask as revealer of the truth. Unfortunately, she never fully addresses the notion of life casting as a ``poor relation to genuine sculpture.'' Not until the last page is the reader invited to learn more about the process, and only then by sending away for a booklet. As a study in art, the volume is thus seriously lacking. While Shalit ought to be commended for donating proceeds to the Touch Foundation for the Blind, the reader is left wondering what makes the artist truly expert in her discipline.-- Marigrace Maselli, New York City
Alice Joyce
Shalit (Gene's daughter, by the way) has long been hooked on casting life masks. Using a quick-setting material (capable of capturing a more animated, expressive countenance on her subjects than traditional techniques for death masks can capture), she casts faces of the beautiful (e.g., Michelle Pfeiffer) and the famous (Ted Turner, for instance). The substance of this volume consists of a photographic portfolio--more than 30 images of well-known personalities--accompanied by the author's intimate observations. Along with a collaborator, she has created artworks for an exhibition entitled "Please Touch," aimed at an audience that includes the blind. Shalit's warmly felt document will also have an audio and braille version.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780941831802
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1992
  • Pages: 95
  • Product dimensions: 10.16 (w) x 12.34 (h) x 0.62 (d)

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