“In the medieval tradition, Beksinski seems to believe art to be a forewarning about the fragility of the flesh– whatever pleasures we know are doomed to perish– thus, his paintings manage to evoke at once the process of decay and the ongoing struggle for life. They hold within them a secret poetry, stained with blood and rust.” –director Guillermo Del Toro
I’ve been singing the praise of Zdzislaw Beksinski since 1998 when Morpheus International introduced his art to those outside Poland by publishing THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI.
Twelve years later and Beksinski’s work is more well known to the point where there are films and filmmakers singing his praises, bands doing albums to him, and additional art books produced about him. Sad that this increased exposure couldn’t arrive while he was still alive.
However, that injustice aside, I’m glad the art books and product are, in the wake of his demise, finding an audience. The work of Beksinski deserves to… persist.
One recent art book is BEKSINSKI 1 by publisher Bosz Art. A 2009 printing, which I only recently received. Having loved THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI, (it remains 12 years later, and hundreds of art books later, my essential art book) I had constantly been on the search for more art books by this “master of the aftermath”, and BEKSINSKI 1 fit the bill nicely.
It’s a bit more substantial of a book than Morpheus’ THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI. BEKSINSKI 1 is about the same height as THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI (which is 12″ by 9.6″) while being over an inch thicker, and sporting about 100 more pages.
There’s a very nice forward, both in Polish and English, by Wieslaw Banach, that is quite eloquent and slightly poetic. Beyond those few pages the rest of the books is given over to just a broad selection, listed chronologically, of Beksinski’s art.
The strength of this tome is its size allows it to include a lot of art not in THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI, some of it quite arresting. The weakness of this tome however is most of the tome is given to his post 1990 work, which is in a different less beautiful/fantastic realist style than his earlier work. It gets quite repetitive actually.
A 2nd failing is while the paper stock is thick, it is a dull, matte finish that does not show off the art of Beksinski as well as the Morpheus tome.
The glossy Morpheus paper, really captures the brightness and vibrancy of Beksinski’s colors, it makes the art come alive. An illusion that is lost in the dull matte finish of the Bosz Tome. Also with the inclusion of quotes interspersed, quite thematically, throughout the entirety of the book, as well as framing the art against, mostly haunting dark colors, THE FANTASIC ART OF BEKSINSKI is just a far superior designed book.
So I don’t regret spending the money to acquire BEKSINSKI 1, it’s a nice expansion to the world of Beksinski, but Morpheus International’s 12 year old tome, THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI remains the definitive book on the last great surrealist.
Final Grades: A+ for THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI B+ for BEKSINSKI 1.