Book List of the Week

The Right Intensity of Light: The Book Lists of Jules Fisher and Paul Marantz

By Steve Kroeter March 29, 2011
Jules Fisher

To get a feel for the remarkably varied and ever-present role that light plays in our lives, there is no better place to look than the work of the firm founded by lighting designers Jules Fisher and Paul Marantz. Over the course of the more than 40 years that they have worked together, their combined projects reveal the full spectrum of light as a constant social, cultural, and commercial force.

In New York they designed the city’s “Tribute in Light” to honor the victims of 9/11. Well known for their architectural projects, they were responsible for lighting the world’s tallest building (Dubai) and one of the planet’s largest airport terminals (Hong Kong). Their work showcases the art in the Getty Center in Los Angeles and other major museums across the country and around the globe.

The firm has designed the lighting for more than 200 Broadway and off-Broadway shows, as well as films, ballets, operas, rock concerts, and television programs.

Paul Marantz

Glimpsing the titles included on Jules Fisher and Paul Marantz's book lists is like experiencing strobe-like insights into the form and function of their world of light. From Fisher comes “The Dramatic Imagination,” “In the Light of Italy,” and “Unless It Moves the Human Heart.” From Marantz, we get “Brilliant,” “Eye and Brain,” and “In Praise of Shadows.”

While Fisher and Marantz think in many ways like artists (Fisher includes a book on the painter Corot and Marantz has one on the architect Albert Kahn, a “poet of natural light”)—working in an invisible medium—they are at the same time attuned to the power of words and how they are used. Fisher compares “picking the right word” to picking “the right intensity of light.” And on Marantz’s list is The Elements of Style, in which “clear exposition” is irreplaceable.

From the “recent and ancient” books on Fisher’s list to writing that Marantz sees as mirroring light in the “mind’s eye”—the books on these two lists provide insights into a subject that touches us all.

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