Zero Mostel Reads a Book. By Robert Frank. Book design by Robert Frank and Gerhard Steidl. STEIDL Robert Frank, 2008. 40 pp., illustrated throughout, 13,7x20,2cm. Images from here.
I came across this book purely by chance and I really love it. Steidl's whole Robert Frank Project is a pretty wonderful thing.
"When Robert Frank had completed his first two films, he accepted a commission for a photo-book from the New York Times, which became 'Zero Mostel Reads a Book'.
In it Frank takes the comic actor Zero Mostel (1915–1977) for his subject, and depicts him in cartoonish dimensions - bemused, baffled and apoplectic, as he makes his way through an unidentified hardback volume, seated at a table or on a sofa in a large lounge area.
Originally published "for the fun of it" in 1963 and dedicated to the American bookseller, the book was intended as a present for customers yet it never reached the book market. It has been a collector’s item since.
'Zero Mostel Reads a Book' references a series of theatrical and playful vignettes in which Mostel’s most famous roles - Tevye in 'Fiddler on the Roof', Pseudolus in 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum', and Max Bialystock in 'The Producers' - are clearly signaled.
It is a delightful moment of slapstick in Frank’s oeuvre, and directly reflects his emphasis on the moving image at the time."