Cover image for Curiosa : celebrity relics, historical fossils, & other metamorphic rubbish
Curiosa : celebrity relics, historical fossils, & other metamorphic rubbish
Beneš, Barton Lidicé.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Harry N. Abrams, [2002]

Physical Description:
131 pages : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6494.F6 B45 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Benes imbues mundane objects with the mystical power of holy relics. This collection of his objects is provocative, disturbing and amusing. 110 illustrations.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the idiosyncratic tradition of Joseph Cornell and Ray Johnson, Benes has established his own school of art, one founded on obsessive assemblage. A born collector-"I have always been afraid of losing things"-Benes leaves no gallstone (see page 59 for Larry Hagman's) unturned in his acquisition of odd objets. The artist's fastidious catalogue recalls crime-scene investigations and Albertus Seba's Cabinet of Natural Curiosities. Whereas the 19th-century pharmacist recorded rare flora and fauna, Benes preserves the leavings of celebrity culture-Nancy Reagan's chocolate-souffl stained napkin, Bill Clinton's half-sucked throat lozenge, Roy Rogers's nasal douche. Macabre, witty and earnest, the book offers readers the guilty pleasure of supermarket tabloids and the brooding quirkiness of a modern-day Vanitas. The most mundane object-a desiccated cookie baked by Katharine Hepburn, for example-labeled and squared in its wooden cubbyhole, looks just like art, but also foretells decay. Leavening the reliquary's morbidity are anecdotes of stealthy acquisition-the artist surreptitiously pocketing Ed Koch's dinner fork, friends thieving a twig from Mao Tse-tung's broom, a postal worker retrieving a dead bird that flew into Elizabeth Taylor's window. The book itself, beautifully designed, promises to be a poignant keepsake for connoisseurs of the absurd. Warhol would have loved it; Benes has indexed a celluloid strip from Empire. And Berendt (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) has contributed not only the introduction but also the aforementioned Rogers keepsake. 110 full-color illus. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved