Monday, January 12, 2009

Art & Culture: Dreambook by Mark di Suvero

“Each human saves himself or herself, and no other being can do anything but give insight, show a way, or block. Will, acting across parameters of necessity that are in delicate equilibrium, can change things. History shows this. Those who have changed the course of human history have always believed themselves capable of it. Sadly though, most of the time most humans act from necessity.”
What makes Dreambook (University of California Press) special is that it’s so much more than it might have been. So much, in a way, more than it appears.

Dreambook is said to be “the definitive volume on American sculptor Mark di Suvero” and in some ways it is. Over 200 images track the deep course of his work; the changes it has made; the sharp turns of direction it has taken over the years. But there is very little about di Suvero included which -- taken within the context of the book -- is absolutely right. This is di Suvero’s book. His book of dreams. And so we see his work but, in his own words, we hear his heart. Admired works by other writers are included as well: Walt Whitman, Marianne Moore, Rainer Maria Rilke, many others.

di Suvero was born in China to Italian parents and raised in the United States. Without question, he is one of the most important living sculptors. His work can be found in museums and collections the world over. And though there is a very good biographical section on di Suvero by Francois Barré late in the book, it is only a very small portion of Dreambook.

This is probably not the most definitive book on di Suvero that will ever be. It is, however, purely Mark di Suvero’s book. We get to experience his art, albeit from the distance of photography. Perhaps more importantly, though, through his personal essays and his editorial choices about what other writing should be included in this, his book of dreams, we get to experience his heart.

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