Our picks of the new art books this time round include public art projects from Australia and round the globe, plus: a tribute to the memory of Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, a history of queer art from around the world since 1900, and some remarkable botanical sketchbooks from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. This quote, on the topic of Australian war art from World War One, also touched us:
Among all the forms of national memory and commemoration, it falls to the artists to paint a war. When war is as traumatic as the Great War, the artists’ burden is so much greater
To paint a war : the lives of the Australian artists who painted the Great War, 1914-1918 / Richard Travers.
“Among all the forms of national memory and commemoration, it falls to the artists to paint a war. When war is as traumatic as the Great War, the artists’ burden is so much greater. The Australian artists who painted World War I approached their subject personally, in ways that reflected their experience of the war. Grace Cossington Smith painted on the home front. Hilda Rix Nicholas suffered personal loss beyond words. Tom Roberts, George Coates, and Arthur Streeton served as wardsmen in a military hospital in London. George Lambert travelled to Anzac Cove in 1919 to make the definitive record of the war at Gallipoli. Some contributed as members of the official war artists’ scheme. Others painted as eyewitnesses of the unfolding tragedy. Yet others painted from their hearts. Their work, in all its richness and variety, is a sweeping painterly chronicle of the war, and a vital part of Australia’s heritage.” (Publisher’s description)
The short story of art : a pocket guide to key movements, works, themes & techniques / Susie Hodge.
“The Short Story of Art is a new and innovative introduction to the subject of art. Simply constructed, the book explores 50 key works, from the wall paintings of Lascaux to contemporary installations, and then links these to sections on art movements, themes, and techniques. The design of the book allows the student or art enthusiast to easily navigate their way around key periods, artists and styles. Accessible and concise, it simplifies and explains the most important and influential concepts in art, and shows how they are linked.” (Syndetics summary)
Colonial Gothic to Māori renaissance : essays in memory of Jonathan Mane-Wheoki / edited by Conal McCarthy & Mark Stocker.
“Jonathan Mane-Wheoki (1943–2014) was a much loved and respected academic and curator of broad and varied interests, who made an immense contribution to New Zealand art history over almost half a century. His scholarship was matched by a terrific generosity of spirit and personal charisma. Colonial Gothic to Māori Renaissance is a remarkable tribute to his memory from friends, colleagues and former students alike. Its contents are as varied and interesting as the man himself: Victorian church architecture and liturgy, mysticism, the New Zealand International Exhibition of 1906, the Toi Te Papa exhibition of 2006, traditional and contemporary Māori art, and the artists Thomas Benjamin Kennington, Gottfried Lindauer, Colin McCahon, Tony Fomison, Philip Clairmont and Emily Karaka are all included here. Beautifully illustrated and scholarly yet readable, this book is a powerful testament to the inspiration of a remarkable person.” (Victoria University Press)
Visionaries : creating a modern Guggenheim / [curator], Megan Fontanella
“Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim celebrates the late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century masterworks at the core of the institution’s holdings, and the trailblazers – artists and early patrons alike – whose contributions helped define the forward-looking identity of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Central to Visionaries is the story of museum founder Solomon R. Guggenheim, who with support from his trusted advisor, Hilla Rebay, become a great champion of ‘nonobjective’ art and assembled a radical collection against the backdrop of economic crisis and war in the 1930s and ’40s.” (Syndetics summary)
Running the city : why public art matters / Felicity Fenner.
“Leading Australian curator Felicity Fenner profiles activity-based and pop-up contemporary public art projects from Australia and around the globe. Running the City explores art projects that bring together diverse disciplines and cultures – including running, cycling, architecture, and guerilla gardening. From runners taking to the streets of Sydney’s CBD in Runscape to Work No. 850, where athletes sprinted through the corridors of Tate Britain, the book surveys recent art projects that utilise the city both as subject matter and a site for art.” (Syndetics summary)
A queer little history of art / Alex Pilcher.
“The last century has seen a dramatic shift in gender and sexual identities for both men and women, reflected in artistic experimentation as artists have sought to challenge social conventions and push the boundaries of what has been deemed acceptable. The result is a wealth of deeply emotive and powerful art intended to express a range of desires and experiences but also to question, criticize, and provoke dialogue. This generously illustrated book showcases the breadth and depth of queer art from around the world since 1900, exploring identity, eroticism, relationships, hidden desires, love, and gender, revealing how experiences have also been shaped by class and ethnicity, and how art itself has played a key role in changing attitudes and crystalizing identities in different historic and contemporary contexts.” (Syndetics summary)
Botanical sketchbooks / compiled by Helen & William Bynum.
“Recording the world of plant and animal life and documenting the strange beauty of the natural world have been human passions ever since the first cave paintings. While there are many histories of botanical art featuring beautiful paintings and finished drawings, the artists’ preparatory sketches, first impressions, and scribbled notes on paper are rarely seen. But it is often these early attempts that give us real insight into the firsthand experiences and adventures of the botanists, artists, collectors, and explorers behind them. This exquisite visual compendium of botanical sketches by eighty artists from around the world brings these personal and vividly spontaneous records back into the light. Filled with remarkable images from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries, sourced from the unparalleled collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Library, Art & Archives, and other libraries, museums, and archives, Botanical Sketchbooks also provides fascinating biographical portraits of the intriguing characters featured within, including such renowned artists, scientists, and amateur botanists as Leonardo da Vinci, Georg Dionysius Ehret, Carl Linnaeus, Maria Sibylla Merian, Mark Catesby, and Helen and Margaret Shelley (sisters of the novelist Mary Shelley), among many others.” (Syndetics summary)
Art record covers / Francesco Sampinato ; ed. Julius Wiedemann.
“An unprecedented collection of artists’ record covers from the 1950s to today. Since the dawn of modernism, visual and music production have had a particularly intimate relationship. From Luigi Russolo’s 1913 Futurist manifesto L’Arte dei Rumori (The Art of Noise) to Marcel Duchamp’s 1925 double-sided discs Rotereliefs, the 20th century saw ever more fertile exchange between sounds and shapes, marks and melodies, and different fields of composition and performance. In Francesco Spampinato’ unique anthology of artists’ record covers, we discover the rhythm of this particular cultural history. The book presents 500 covers and records by visual artists from the 1950s through to today, exploring how modernism, Pop Art, Conceptual Art, postmodernism, and various forms of contemporary art practice have all informed this collateral field of visual production and supported the mass distribution of music with defining imagery that swiftly and suggestively evokes an aural encounter.” (Syndetics summary)