Picks and Pans Review: Fame 2
by Brad Benedict
"Richard Bernstein portrays stars," writes Paloma Picasso in her introduction to Megastar. "He celebrates their faces, he gives them larger than Fiction size. He puts wit into the beauties, fantasy into the rich, depth into the glamorous and adds instant patina to newcomers." Bernstein's giant faces on the covers of Andy Warhol's Interview magazine look like photographs that have been colored with an airbrush and touched up to give the images glittering highlights. While surreal, they are instantly recognizable as Jacqueline Onassis or Grace Jones, Bette Midler or Ali MacGraw. Lily Tomlin on the telephone is as pretty as a model and yet she still looks like Lily Tomlin—that's the celebrityism art form that Bernstein practices. Like Interview, this volume (Indigo Books, $14.95) is 11 by 14 inches so that the famous heads loom as big as life. Benedict, founder of a greeting card company, has assembled a collection that includes airbrushed glamour portraits of stars. But he also admires and includes caricatures, cartoons and everything else happening in illustration. There are several portraits of Ronald Reagan: Ed Wexler turns Reagan into the screaming face in a famous Edvard Munch painting; Ben Osto sees the President as crumbling cubes and planes; Robert Kopecky gives his portrait the white, blank eyes of Daddy Warbucks. Many of the works reproduced in this lavish paperback (Indigo, $14.95) can be dismissed as trendy copies of better artists' work. Still, the vitality and ingenuity are, in this context, impressive.
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