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Curiosa: Celebrity Relics, Historical Fossils, and Other Metamorphic Rubbish
     

Curiosa: Celebrity Relics, Historical Fossils, and Other Metamorphic Rubbish

5.0 1
by Barton Lidice Benes, John Berendt (Introduction)
 
Barton Benes imbues mundane objects with the mystical power of holy relics. He assembles modern-day curiosity cabinets, or reliquaries, out of everyday items that have been touched by fame. From such bizarre celebrity-owned articles as Madonna's panties, Bill Clinton's throat lozenge, O. J. Simpson's glove, Larry Hagman's gallstone, and glass from the car crash in

Overview

Barton Benes imbues mundane objects with the mystical power of holy relics. He assembles modern-day curiosity cabinets, or reliquaries, out of everyday items that have been touched by fame. From such bizarre celebrity-owned articles as Madonna's panties, Bill Clinton's throat lozenge, O. J. Simpson's glove, Larry Hagman's gallstone, and glass from the car crash in which Princess Diana died, Barton Benes creates an art that is as arresting as it is unique.

Whether his creativity is fueled by discards with the pedigree of fame or infamy, such as a Frank Sinatra fingernail clipping or the Son of Sam's hair, or by unusual and strange objects from human and natural history, such as mummy dust, Benes mounts and labels the items and assembles them into mini-museums that are, as this book shows, alternately provocative, disturbing, and amusing, but always compelling. Benes supplies humorous captions that tell the quirky history of each piece, and John Berendt, best-selling author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, writes an insightful introduction on Benes's art and discusses his own fascination with it.

Barton Lidice Benes's art has evolved over the last 30 years from commentary on society's obsession with money to issues dealing with AIDS. He has had solo exhibitions all over the world; his art is in the collections of major museums; and his work has been featured in several books and numerous magazines and newspapers. He lives in New York City. John Berendt is a best-selling author. He lives in New York City and Venice, Italy.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the idiosyncratic tradition of Joseph Cornell and Ray Johnson, Benes has established his own school of art, one founded on obsessive assemblage. A born collector-"I have always been afraid of losing things"-Benes leaves no gallstone (see page 59 for Larry Hagman's) unturned in his acquisition of odd objets. The artist's fastidious catalogue recalls crime-scene investigations and Albertus Seba's Cabinet of Natural Curiosities. Whereas the 19th-century pharmacist recorded rare flora and fauna, Benes preserves the leavings of celebrity culture-Nancy Reagan's chocolate-souffl stained napkin, Bill Clinton's half-sucked throat lozenge, Roy Rogers's nasal douche. Macabre, witty and earnest, the book offers readers the guilty pleasure of supermarket tabloids and the brooding quirkiness of a modern-day Vanitas. The most mundane object-a desiccated cookie baked by Katharine Hepburn, for example-labeled and squared in its wooden cubbyhole, looks just like art, but also foretells decay. Leavening the reliquary's morbidity are anecdotes of stealthy acquisition-the artist surreptitiously pocketing Ed Koch's dinner fork, friends thieving a twig from Mao Tse-tung's broom, a postal worker retrieving a dead bird that flew into Elizabeth Taylor's window. The book itself, beautifully designed, promises to be a poignant keepsake for connoisseurs of the absurd. Warhol would have loved it; Benes has indexed a celluloid strip from Empire. And Berendt (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) has contributed not only the introduction but also the aforementioned Rogers keepsake. 110 full-color illus. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810935372
Publisher:
Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
10/28/2002
Pages:
132
Product dimensions:
9.32(w) x 9.32(h) x 0.87(d)

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Curiosa: Celebrity Relics, Historical Fossils, and Other Metamorphic Rubbish 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've seen the galleys and cover and Barton's book is exquisite. Beautifully photographed and printed. Best of all, the publisher actually got Barton to write about the relics, telling the stories behind their acquisition, which are sometimes even more interesting than the relics themselves. Anyone with an ounce of curiosity, humor, or irony is going to love Curiosa.