New November/December Art Books

This diverse selection of books is indicative of the breadth of disciplines and thinking that makes up art.  There is a tinge of an outlier theme with some of these titles. One obvious example in this mix is Eddie Chamber’s Black Artist’s in British Art: A History Since the 1950’s, the story of Black Artists who have been frequently overlooked in the dominant history of  20th Century British Art. Another title worth picking up  for those with a particular interest in our national art history is The Critics Part: Wynston Curnow Art Writings 1971-2013, a title that links to the afore mentioned outlier theme. A feature threading through this collection of writing is the particular insularity of New Zealand’s Art scene due to geographical distance and its periphery from international counterparts.

Syndetics book coverJeff Koons : conversations with Norman Rosenthal / [Norman Rosenthal, Jeff Koons].
“This book has the potential to become the reference point for all who want to understand Koons and creativity in the twenty-first century. Published to coincide with his 2014-2015 retrospective, this new book provides the most revealing portrait that exists of Jeff Koons’ singular personality and artistic vision as he discusses works across his thirty-five-year career. Rosenthal’s masterful interviews, conducted over three years, give unparalleled access to the thoughts of one of the most influential minds in contemporary culture, disclosing the artist undistorted and in his own words. As well as examining all his major series in depth, from his first inflatables to his latest series on antiquities, the interviews shed new light on the artist’s interest in other artists’ works, reveal the significance of his youth and family life on his art, and explain the key concepts of his practice, such as his ideas on self-acceptance, ecstasy and sex.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover33 artists in 3 acts / Sarah Thornton.
“In three richly interlinked but distinct ‘acts’ – Politics, Kinship and Craft – Sarah Thornton compares and contrasts answers to the simple but profound question: what is an artist? 33 Artists in 3 Acts draws on hundreds of personal encounters with the world’s most important artists, to ask what it means to be making artworks in different parts of the world today. With Thornton as expert guide and trusted insider, we have unprecedented access to the lives of the artists, from late-night Skype chats with Ai Weiwei to taxi rides with Maurizio Cattelan on the way to and from the show that announces his death. The result is a series of cinematic experiences, which juxtapose artists in thought-provoking ways, and build up narratives that end with epiphanies.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe critic’s part : Wystan Curnow art writings 1971-2013 / edited by Christina Barton and Robert Leonard ; with Thomasin Sleigh.
“Wystan Curnow is New Zealand’s longest-serving and, arguably, most important art critic. This edited collection brings together a selection of his art writings from 1971 to 2013 to provide the first comprehensive overview of his practice. Selectively drawing on his considerable ouput, the publication features Curnow’s long form essays that investigate the stakes for ‘high culture’ in a ‘small province’ like New Zealand, and major essays on key artists including Len Lye, Colin McCahon, Billy Apple, Stephen Bambury, Max Gimblett, and Imants Tillers. Both a map of contemporary theory and practice and a cogent agenda for thinking through the implications and challenges of making art here, this compilation is an essential companion for anyone interested in New Zealand art as it has unfolded since 1970.” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverBrilliant history of color in art
“This book presents a deceptively simple and accessible text that never pretends to be more than a conversational overview of the development and use of color in art. Yet, beginning with cave paintings and progressing casually through the centuries up to the present, the book provides a wealth of information, including brief forays into the science of color. Beautifully illustrated with examples, mostly drawn from the collections of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles “A Brilliant history of color in art” is rich with lesser-known anecdotes from art history.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverRobert Indiana : beyond Love / Barbara Haskell ; with contributions by Rene Paul Barilleaux, Sasha Nicholas.
“Much more than a souvenir, this print companion to famous pop artist Robert Indiana’s Whitney show seeks to “reassess and appreciate the power and importance of Indiana’s larger body of workThe focus is on the complexity and variety of his work as a truly American artist while noting his seminal shaping of contemporary art and global appreciation, through authoritative prose and excellent full-color reproductions. Five heavily illustrated sections flesh out this testimony.  It is scholarly yet approachable and enjoyable.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverCreative block : get unstuck, discover new ideas : advice and projects from 50 successful artists / Danielle Krysa. Creative block presents the most crippling-and unfortunately universal-challenge for artists.  This chunky blockbuster of a book is chock-full of solutions for overcoming all manner of artistic impediment. The blogger behind The Jealous Curator interviews 50 successful international artists working in different mediums and mines their insights on how to conquer self-doubt, stay motivated, and get new ideas to flow. Each artist offers a tried-and-true exercise-from road trips to 30-day challenges to cataloging the medicine cabinet- that will kick-start the creative process. (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book cover50 art movements you should know : from impressionism to performance art.
“Filled with stunning reproductions of some of the world’s greatest masterpieces, this reference book offers a chronological journey through artistic revolutions. Each movement is presented in a series of informative presentations–a concise definition and description; full-page and smaller detailed color illustrations; and in-depth profiles of the artists crucial to the style’s development. Covering a wide range of movements both familiar and obscure, this accessible and informative volume is a perfect introduction for readers interested in art’s constantly evolving story.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack artists in British art : a history since the 1950s / Eddie Chambers.
“Black artists have been making major contributions to the British art scene for decades, since at least the middle of the 20th century. Sometimes, these artists – with backgrounds in the countries of Africa, the Caribbean, and South Asia – were regarded and embraced as British practitioners of note and merit. At other times, particularly during the 1970s and 1980s, they were not. In response, on occasion, Britain’s black artists came together and made their own exhibitions or created their own gallery spaces. In this book, Eddie Chambers tells the story of Britain’s black artists, from the 1950s onwards, including the contemporary art of Steve McQueen, Chris Ofili and Yinka Shonibare. Black Artists in British Art represents a timely and important contribution to British art history.” (

Syndetics book coverCommon threads: weaving community through collaborative eco-art
“This book works as a serious guide for those who want to “up-purpose green waste” and create eco-art pieces for their communities. Kallis provides examples from her own extensive work with different kinds of eco-activism and crafts in a variety of public arenas. Some projects are architectural in nature, such as woven fences defining a newly refurbished local public commons; others are ingeniously functional, as when a crocheted net of invasive ivy provides much-needed temporary erosion control. Each object is worked on by many hands and appreciated by many eyes, and then left to its own devices.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book cover100 moments of Australian painting from the Art Gallery of New South Wales
“What makes a painting endure and resonate through time? What makes a masterpiece? Highly respected art curator Barry Pearce provides a personal tour of 100 of his favourite Australian paintings from the walls and vaults of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. He reveals intriguing stories behind some of Australia’s best-loved paintings, and uncovers lesser-known gems along the way.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverIan Davenport / Martin Filler ; Ian Davenport in conversation with Michael Bracewell ; introduction by Damien Hirst.
“Over the past 25 years Ian Davenport has consistently employed intensely rigorous and unconventional painting processes. He has experimented with method and medium, exploring the qualities and applications of paints, both in his early monochrome paintings and in his later complex colour combinations. Davenport is a keen drummer and listens to music while he paints. The musical influence is important; in his more recent paintings the repetition of multiple vertical lines of various colours creates an underlying rhythm that pulses through each work.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverPeter Smith : his life and legacy in art and education / Jill Smith.
“Peter Smith was one the most influential art educators in New Zealand. During his 50 year career as well-loved teacher, role model, mentor, and leader in arts education policy he elevated the status and value of New Zealand art education to both national and international acclaim. To know Peter’s life and legacy is to understand the evolution of art education in New Zealand from World War II to today” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)