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Review: Dangerous Curves: The Art of the Guitar by Darcy Kuronen

Review: Dangerous Curves: The Art of the Guitar by Darcy Kuronen

Reviewed by John Calkin

Originally published in American Lutherie #67, 2001 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Six, 2013

Dangerous Curves: The Art of the Guitar
Darcy Kuronen
MFA Publications, 2000
ISBN 978-0878464784

It’s getting harder to write reviews of guitar picture books. I’ve nearly passed through my third decade of playing, building, and heavy reading about guitars, and I have seen the elephant and heard the owl. When confronted by yet another hip coffee-table volume, my first thought is, “Go ahead, impress me. I dare you.”

Dangerous Curves is sort of up to the challenge. Photos of 110 guitars (from an exhibition held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) illustrate the evolution of the guitar as objet d’art while the text attempts — succinctly and entertainingly — to track the changes to the instrument as cultural phenomena. The book is a good thumbnail refresher course in the history of the guitar with a new twist. Guitar nuts tend to think of a few guitars as important and the rest as also-rans. Within the context of art there are no important guitars, only artistically interesting guitars. Art is dynamic. The strongest art has led its culture. With the possible exception of the Stratocaster (my own judgment), no guitar has been artistically that important. Guitar art has followed cultural trends, not led them.

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