Juggler's World: Vol. 38, No. 1

Book Reviews

Juggling. The Art And Its Artists

Interpretive drawing of Francis Brunn
(by Paul Degen, from Juggling: The Art and Its Artists)

by Karl-Heinz Ziethen and Andrew Allen

ISBN 3-9801140-1-5. Published by Werner Rausch & Werner Luft Inc., Hasenheide 54, D-1000 Berlin 61. $46 until May 31, $64 later.

Reviewed by Bill Giduz, publisher

Naturalists have 'em and train buffs have 'em. There are shelves full for artists, and finally jugglers have a handsome coffee table book of their own. Without even turning the first page, the 9"-by-12" cover of the hardback book, Juggling: The Art and Its Artists bespeaks quality. A sparse interpretive drawing of Francis Brunn by Paul Degan set on a shiny silver background captures in a few pen strokes the power and beauty of the art.

Inside, about 350 photographs and poster reproductions chronicle juggling from long past to present. But the aim of the book is not history. Ziethen has assembled some of the best pictures in his vast collection to give a pictorial overview of juggling as art.

Allen's text matches that theme as well. It's easy reading. Allen limits his prose to about a half-page at the beginning of each section, plus a thorough and informative three-page introductory overview of juggling history. Allen's style is humorous and thought-provoking. It is a complement to, rather than interference with, the main business of the book, which is pictures, pictures, pictures!

Picture Paul Conchas balancing an artillery piece on his head. Picture Paul Spadoni seated, juggling a tray, table, cup and saucer. Picture a close-up of Rastelli's powerful hands gripping a ball and a club. Picture Paolo Piletto standing on one foot on a rolling globe, spinning a hoop on the other foot, balancing two balls on pedestals and juggling five hoops.

Paulo Piletto, known as "The German Rastelli," as seen in 1928
(Photo from Juggling: The Art and Its Artists)

The photographs cover everything from juggling's sublime to its ridiculous. The minimalist drawing of Brunn on the cover contrasts wonderfully with a 1910 poster showing the comic chaos of the Seven Perezoffs in their restaurant skit. Both styles are flip sides of the same artistic coin.

The book consists of 19 sections devoted to certain styles of juggling, forms of manipulation or particular jugglers. Individuals deemed worthy of a full chapter's attention are Paul Cinquevalli, the Kremos, Enrico Rastelli and the Brunns. Almost anyone else of any notoriety is pictured elsewhere in the book. A total of 212 artists are listed along with a one or two sentence biographical sketch in a helpful index at the back of the volume. The performers are listed alphabetically and handily cross-indexed to the page on which their picture appears.

Most photos are publicity shots, many visibly signed by the performer with greetings to Ziethen. A half-dozen color illustrations surprise the viewer intermittently throughout the volume. The most effective photos, however, are those taken candidly in performance. You see Violetta Kiss doing a one-hand stand on Alexander Kiss' head as he juggles in the circus ring, and look beyond into the rapt faces of the Russian audience.

The Four Afanasjews included 10 club passing between two people in their act
(reprinted from Juggling: The Art and Its Artists)

The illustrations provide good ideas for aspiring performers for both tricks and costuming. Many are simple and easily adaptable, while others are only things to dream of, such as Erik van Aro's juggling of a drum set.

The typography and design are excellent. Humorous cartoons by juggler Toly M begin each chapter with a light touch. The book is dedicated to John Fisher, an English television producer who has helped Ziethen over the years to amassing his collection.

Pride of authorship is clear throughout. Allen, a performer himself and student of languages, gives the English language a healthy workout. Witness an excerpt from his introduction to the chapter on Russian jugglers: "So many superb jugglers have come from the USSR that this entire chapter is devoted in its entirety to the exasperating exuberance of these perpetuants of dexterital anomalies." Now there's a man who enjoys his craft!

During more than 20 years of devotion to juggling, Ziethen has compiled the finest collection in Europe and probably the world. It includes more than 10,000 photos, as well as files and files bulging with biographies, programs, photographs, videotapes, posters and props. He has wanted for many years to share this treasure trove with a wider audience and he does so in this book with imminent class.

Author Karl-Heinz Ziethen (photo by Mertin-Olaf Mueler-Hanssen

How To Build Unicycles and Artistic Bicycles (2nd edition)

by Jack Wiley

ISBN 0-913999-13-X. Solipaz Publishing Co., Box 366, Lodi, CA 95241. $15.95.

The second edition is a completely revised and greatly expanded version of a book originally published in 1983. Its 81 8x10-inch pages include 131 photos and computer-generated line drawings illustrating how to build unicycles and artistic bicycles. This manual details how to turn used bicycle parts and/or stock material into a variety of standard unicycles, handlebar units, giraffe unicycles, and artistic and novelty bicycles.

The book begins with an explanation of basic construction techniques and assemblies. Construction requires considerable time and metalworking skills, but for those so equipped, this is surely the most complete and detailed manual available on the subject. It includes an index and appendix listing sources for parts needed to build 'em yourself.

Book Reviews / Index, Vol. 38, No. 1 / jis@juggling.org
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