Michael Vagnetti's Reviews > The Beauty of Violence

The Beauty of Violence by Karl Lagerfeld
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Feb 15, 12

Read from February 14 to 15, 2012

Apart an epigraph by George Santayana, the book is 68 pages of Baptiste Giabiconi, who's body seems as computer-generated as his name. What I assume the authors are going for is a kind of violence that's beautiful in the way that love or lust is, when it devastates you/ It's all hard to take seriously that Bapiste's erotic possession is either authentic, well-acted, beautiful, or violent. This is a publishing vanity project, or it may be a new kind of advertising, a way to establish a new face into the image culture. It's well printed, however, in three-color black-and-white.

It also had me thinking of the painting The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David (1787). This was a painting that Dr. Howard Lay, my art history professor at Michigan, also chided for the melodrama of its gestures. (He was also the first person I'd ever heard use the word "chic.") The way that Socrates' disciples grieve - heads in hands, arms upraised - brought to mind these photographs.

You can't help but think how these images could have been something else: transgressive, varied, drawing of distinctions, or expressive of the kind of beautiful physicality that we find, for example, in ballet. The Beauty of Violence takes the length of a book to do what what a twelve-page magazine editorial can do better.
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02/15/2012
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