Art Books: Antonio Lopez, Juan Usle & Umberto Eco

Learn more about art, ugliness and 70s' disco in captivating art books by authors, Antonio Lopez, Juan Usle & Umberto Eco in this short guide by azureazure.

Art takes on different forms and meanings according to the historical and socio-cultural moment in which it is conceived, just as the concepts of beauty, glamor and ugliness change as well. Discover three books that focus on how art changed during the 70s, and how those concepts of artistic aesthetics were portrayed by renowned the Antonio López, Juan Usle and Umberto Eco.

ANTONIO LÓPEZ. Fashion Art Sex and Disco. Rizzoli, 2012. Ed. Roger & Mauricio Padilha

It was the late sixties and early seventies when a group of talented designers, artists, models and creators set out to conquer the worlds of art and fashion in New York and Paris. Lead by Antonio López, the group included Jerry Hall, Juan Ramos, Pat Cleveland, Jessica Lange, Tina Chow, the extravagant Grace Jones, and several others.Antonio López (1943-1987), a contemporary of Andy Warhol in New York, was a skinny young man with a mustache and curly hair. Born and raised in the Bronx, he graduated from the Fashion Institute of Art. His brilliant drawings adorned the pages of magazines and newspapers of the time, and his illustrations and photographs from the advertising campaigns for Missoni and Valentino, among others, were published in Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, The New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily and Interview.

For those who didn’t experience this era of high fashion and disco, the publishing house Rizzoli has launched a superb book with the drawings, photos, illustrations and paintings of the internationally renowned artist.

López shared his years of splendor and glory with Juan Ramos, his companion in life and in art, in a Paris apartment leased from Karl Lagerfeld’s mother. During the day he worked with the late Lagerfeld at Chloé, and the bohemian nights were spent drinking champagne and dreaming about the future at the Café de Flore and in discotheques around Paris.

They returned to New York in the mid 70s to continue their career until death, caused by complications from AIDS, caught Antonio by surprise in Los Angeles, where he was exhibiting one of his works.

With a prologue by Andre Leon Talley, an epilogue by Anna Sui and an essay by Bill Cunningham, Rizzoli’s monograph pays tribute to this giant of international fashion after many years of oblivion.

Other famous books by the artist include: Antonio’s People, Antonio’s Girls, Antonios Tales from the Thousand and One Nights and Antonio – 60,70,80: Three Decades of Fashion Illustration.

JUAN USLÉ. The Last Dreams of Captain Nemo. Giuseppe Conte.

Behind each painting by Juan Uslé (Santander, Spain, 1954) there is a thought, an aphorism. His lyrical abstractions, somehow philosophical, are the expression of the silence of night, “a silence that resonates.”

“The truth of man depends on the geography of his doubts,” he writes, “the calendars, the architecture of time.”

Although he makes a living as a photographer, his art is represented by three galleries far apart from each other: Cheim & Reid in New York, Thomas Schulte in Berlín, and the Louver Gallery in Los Angeles.

The Last Dreams of Captain Nemo includes an essay written by the Italian poet and novelist Giuseppe Conte (1945). This book has been published in Spanish, English and Italian.

Nemo, Jules Verne’s character, brings to life the writings of Uslé in this compilation of his philosophical reflections and colorful aesthetics. The book covers the various stages of his art and explores in depth the architectural composition of his paintings.

The essay by Conte serves as a revealing analysis of the relationship between Uslé and Captain Nemo, the alter ego of his dreams. Those who love abstract painting and don’t know Uslé’s art will be delighted to discover this poet of color and life.

Other famous books by the artist include: Juan Uslé: The Blind Entrance, Juan Usle: Brezales, Juan Usle: OJO-NIDO, Juan Usle: Namste and Juan Usle. Open Rooms.

On Ugliness. Rizzoli. Edited by Umberto Eco.

“Born in the small town of Alessandria in northern Italy, Umberto Eco was the only son of an accountant named Giulio. Umberto and his mother, Giovanna fled to a village in the Piedmontese mountainside during World War II to escape the bombings while his father was called upon to serve in the army. Eco initially received a Salesian education and later entered the University of Turin to study law upon his father’s insistence who wanted his son to become a lawyer. However, following his interests, Eco soon switched to studying medieval philosophy and literature. He wrote a thesis on St. Thomas Aquinas and in 1954 earned a doctorate degree in philosophy. During his educational period, Umberto had lost faith in God and left the Roman Catholic Church,” according to

From there Eco became infatuated with writing books. One concept in particular that he focused on was “In Art there is also space for the aesthetics of ugliness, a trait of our humanity that varies with each culture. The same way that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we can say that ugliness is also subjective. Or should we leave it open to individual imagination and taste?”

Can we say that deformity, depravity, repulsiveness or monstrosity are subjective? Is Les demoiselle d’Avignon an ugly painting?

Umberto Eco tries to find an answer to those questions and seeks support from Proust, Nietzsche, Saint Agustin, Sartre, Goethe, Hippocrates, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Balzac, Hegel and Rilke to prove his points. In his essay, Eco explains three dimensions of ugliness: ugliness itself, formal ugliness and artistic ugliness.

Other famous books by the artist include: Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum, The Prague Cemetery, How to Write a Thesis, Baudolino, History of Beauty and On Ugliness. ■

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