Review by Choice Review
The Archives of American Art, a division of the Smithsonian Institution, is the nation's repository of documents, both oral and written, that records the lives and works of American artists. Letters figure prominently in the collection, and many, not surprisingly, are decorated with drawings by their respective authors, augmenting the text with "more than words." The present publication presents a delightful and lavish sampling. The chronological span ranges from the 1830s to contemporary artist William Wegman. Kirwin has wisely chosen not to organize the book sequentially but according to themes (e.g., "Bon Voyage," "I Do," "Thank-you"), which, by their whimsy, underline the humorous, light-hearted, and often wittily self-deprecating nature of the writings and drawings. Most of the art is not meant to be "serious," but there are a few pieces that stand out as fine instances of the artist's work; Calder's directions to his house is an example. All the letters are transcribed. The research value of the collection is negligible--a researcher would examine all of the correspondence of a given subject as a matter of course. The chief contribution of this book is its charm. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; lower- and upper-division undergraduates. L. R. Matteson University of Southern California
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.