Art recent picks for June 2014

Shiny, colourful and life-enhancing new art books – to gladden the heart in winter 2014 :

Syndetics book coverPaula Modersohn-Becker : the first modern woman artist / Diane Radycki.
“Long, successful lives of important individuals can be retold by biographers to identify early talents and ambitions as prescient moments that portend later accomplishments. The personal journey can be depicted with the inevitability of a straight line. Lives cut short at the point where talent and ambition are just becoming visible are more difficult to refashion because those later accomplishments are absent. In the case of German modernist Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907), a satisfactory understanding of her short life and career was unwittingly compromised (after her death) by well-meaning admirers who ascribed to her accomplishments beyond her years, and who tried to tell her life story as though it were full and complete. Radycki (Moravian College) takes on the challenge of restoring the honesty of Modersohn-Becker’s short, turbulent life in all its complexity and contradiction. In her retelling, it is the life full of desire and ambition that one already knows from her admirers, but also a life full of personal crisis, confusion, and disarray. The author’s enthusiasm for her task occasionally causes her to lose scholarly objectivity, but those lapses are offset by insightful reading of major works, particularly Modersohn-Becker’s exploratory nude self-portraits. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through researchers/faculty. W. S. Bradley Colorado Mesa UniversityCopyright American Library Association, used with permission.” (CHOICE)

Syndetics book coverPaul Klee : making visible / edited by Matthew Gale.
“Paul Klee (1879–1940) created some of the most innovative and best-loved works of the twentieth century in etching, drawing, ink, pastel, oil paint, and watercolor. Although he moved freely between media and from figuration to abstraction, Klee’s works remain instantly recognizable, often characterized by a playfulness and wit that can sharpen to biting satire on occasion. In 1920 Klee was appointed to teach at the Bauhaus, where he remained for ten years as an influential and much-loved figure. In 1933 he returned to Switzerland having been dismissed from his position by the Nazis; his work was included in the infamous Degenerate Art exhibition in 1937 and Klee spent the rest of his life unable to return to the country that had fostered his career.This retrospective book, which accompanies an exhibition at the Tate Modern, surveys Klee’s entire career, focusing on particular moments in depth and allowing his work to be seen in the context of the times in which he lived. Despite his quirky lyricism, he is revealed as an artist troubled by the challenges of the modern world, far more complex than he may first appear”. (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverDavid Hockney : a bigger picture / [Tim Barringer … [et al.]].
“David Hockney (b. 1937) has always been closely associated with Pop Art and California, where he has lived for much of his life. This major study of his work, published to accompany the exhibition showing at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, redefines him as an important painter of the English countryside, presenting his recent landscapes for the first time. In an attempt to renew contemporary art, Hockney has returned to painting in the open air, observing with honesty and intensity the scenery of his childhood in East Yorkshire. Marco Livingstone explores this bold departure in the context of Hockney’s sixty-year career, while other contributors address the artists place in the landscape tradition, his recent video works and their relationship to English landscape film-making, and his ongoing use of new technologies. Illustrated with paintings, iPad drawings and video stills, many of which have never been seen before, this landmark publication confirms David Hockney as one of the greatest artists of his generation.”
(adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverHenri Matisse : the cut-outs / edited by Karl Buchberg … [et al.] ; with essays by Karl Buchberg … [et al.].
“Henri Matisse (1869 1954) is one of the leading figures of modern art. His unparalleled cut-outs are among the most significant of any artist s late works. When ill health first prevented Matisse from painting, he began to cut into painted paper with scissors as his primary technique to make maquettes for a number of commissions, from books and stained glass window designs to tapestries and ceramics. Taking the form of a studio diary , the catalogue re-examines the cut-outs in terms of the methods and materials that Matisse used, and looks at the tensions in the works between finish and process; fine art and decoration; contemplation and utility; and drawing and colour.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk description)

Syndetics book coverOne thousand cuts : life and art in central Australia / Rod Moss.
From artist and memoirist Rod Moss comes the follow-up to the Prime Minister’s Prize winner The Hard Light of Day. Thirty years ago Rod Moss made his home in the stark beauty of Australia’s Centre. Since then, his place in Alice Springs and the traditional lands of the Arrernte has been deepened by his enduring intimacy with the families of Whitegate camp on the town’s eastern fringe. In this frank and powerful illustrated memoir, Moss gently uncovers the places where his own family and art intersect with the lives of those in the Whitegate mob. The closely connected Hayes, Johnson, Ryder and Neil families consider Moss one of their own and, through them, Moss shows us the majesty of the land, the necessity of story, the intensity of kin, the madness of violence, the tenderness of friendship, and the rhythm of grief. One Thousand Cuts continues where Moss’s highly acclaimed first book left off — this time in pictures as much as words. Through Moss’s moving stories and his stunning paintings and photographs, we share in and celebrate his everyday life with the Whitegate mob, including their fight for a standard of living that is basic to most Australians.

Syndetics book coverDegas, Cassatt / Kimberly A. Jones ; with contributions by Elliot Bostwick Davis [and 5 others].
“This surprising study examines the extent to which Mary Cassatt influenced the work of her contemporary Edgar Degas. Edgar Degas’s influence upon Mary Cassatt has long been acknowledged, but her role in shaping his artistic production and in preparing the way for his warm reception in America is fully examined for the first time. These two major figures of the impressionist movement shared a keen observer’s eye, as well as an openness to experimentation. Despite differences of gender and nationality, they built a deep friendship based on mutual respect and admiration for each other’s talents. Focusing on the critical period from the late 1870s through the mid-1880s, when Degas and Cassatt were most closely allied, this book brings together some seventy works in a variety of media to examine the fascinating artistic dialogue that developed between these two celebrated artists.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Art Recent Picks for May

Stunning new art books for autumn reading: Brancusi, Indiana, Warhol & more.

Syndetics book coverCitizen Warhol / Blake Stimson.
“From his life to his work, Andy Warhol is an enigma. The leading figure of the pop art movement, Warhol created paintings, films, performance art, and his famous studio, the Factory, in New York City. Fans, aficionados, enthusiasts, experts, and critics alike have tried to make sense of Warhol, creating a wealth of knowledge and speculation. Blake Stimson builds on this project in this gorgeously illustrated book, which brings new attention to the philosophical and creative influences behind Warhol’s life and work.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverWhistler : a life for art’s sake / Daniel E. Sutherland.
” The first biography in more than twenty years of James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) is also the first to make extensive use of the artist’s private correspondence to tell the story of his life and work. This engaging personal history dispels the popular notion of Whistler as merely a combative, eccentric, and unrelenting publicity seeker, a man as renowned for his public feuds with Oscar Wilde and John Ruskin as for the iconic portrait of his mother. The Whistler revealed in these pages is an intense, introspective, and complex man, plagued by self-doubt and haunted by an endless pursuit of perfection in his painting and drawing.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverAustralian art : a history / Sasha Grishin.
“Provides an overview of the major developments in Australian art, from its origins to the present. The book commences with ancient Aboriginal rock art and early colonists’ interpretations of their surroundings, and moves on to discuss the formation of an Australian identity through art, the shock of early modernism and the notorious Heide circle. It finishes with the popular recognition of modern Indigenous art and contemporary Australian art and its place in the world.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe essential Robert Indiana / Martin Krause, John Wilmerding.
“Decoding Robert Indiana’s work for a new generation, this revelatory book explores previously unknown autobiographical elements in the work of the Pop artist and printmaker. Famously proclaiming himself to be “an American painter of signs,” Robert Indiana has created an enormous body of work, much of it boldly colored abstractions. In this incisive new examination of the artist, based on ongoing conversations with Indiana, art historian Martin Krause sifts through autobiographical clues within the artist’s work and finds a wealth of affecting and affectionate references to Indiana’s childhood, literary heroes, and the cultural icons of his generation.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBrancusi New York, 1913-2013 / text by Jérôme Neutres.
“The pure, abstract sculptures made by Constantin Brancusi have had a large and enthusiastic audience in New York ever since they were first shown on American soil at the 1913 Armory Show. The numerous American collectors, muses, friends, and exhibitions that enabled his success had a profound influence on the eccentric Romanian artist who lived in Paris… Over the last one hundred years his effect on the city’s art scene has never waned. Through stunning archival images and text by art curator Jerome Neutres, Brancusi New York tells the story of the mutually beneficial relationship between the sculptor and the Big Apple.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverThe self-portrait : a cultural history / James Hall.
“This broad cultural history of self-portraiture brilliantly maps the history of the genre, from the earliest myths of Narcissus and the Christian tradition of bearing witness to the prolific self-image-making of todays contemporary artists. Focusing on a perennially popular subject, the book tells the vivid history of works that offer insights into artists personal, psychological, and creative worlds… The full range of the subject is explored, including comic and caricature self-portraits, invented or imaginary self-portraits, and important collections of self-portraiture such as that of the Medici.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Art Recent Picks for March 2014

Leaves are falling, light is fading – no better time to get out a snazzy new “coffee table” art book from the library!:

Syndetics book cover9 artists / [edited by] Bartholomew Ryan ; texts by Yael Bartana, Liam Gillick, Renzo Martens, Bjarne Melgaard, Nástio Mosquito, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Hito Steyerl, Danh Vo.
“Accompanying an exciting exhibition at the Walker Art Center, this catalogue brings together 16-page “books” by the contributing artists, with occasional commentary from the curators. The eight artists (yes, there are eight) all create work that is dynamically and decidedly focused on contemporary questions. While their modes and perspectives vary, together they probe the role of the artist and citizen in a heavily networked, globalizing world. The images throughout are as rich and thought-provoking as the text, resulting in a visual and textual object that continually rewards engagement.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYinka Shonibare MBE / edited by Rachel Kent.
“Newly revised and updated, this authoritative book presents the exciting, ironic, and often subversive work of Yinka Shonibare MBE, one of the stars of the international art scene. Born in London and raised in Nigeria, Shonibare employs a diverse range of media–from sculpture, painting, and installation to photography and film–to probe matters of race, class, cultural identity, and history. He is perhaps best known for his signature use of a colorful “African” batik fabric that actually originated in Indonesia and was introduced to Africa in the19th century by British and Dutch colonizers. Incorporated into Victorian costumes, covering sculptures of extraterrestrials, or stretched like canvas for paintings, these vibrant textiles cleverly challenge issues of origin and authenticity. ” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMagritte : the mystery of the ordinary, 1926-1938 / edited by Anne Umland ; with essays by Stephanie D’Alessandro … [et al.].
“Featuring works from more than 50 collections, this exhibition catalogue reproduces and contextualizes Rene Magritte’s development as a surrealist artist from 1926, when he began his quest, until 1938, when he presented a lecture that summarized his accomplishments in this genre. The introduction explains Magritte’s cubist work prior to 1926 and explores how the artistic influence of Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst shifted his work toward surrealism. The catalogue proper and four additional essays divide the 13-year period into segments based on the artist’s physical location–from Brussels to Paris, back to Brussels, and finally to London, where he completed commissions for Edward James.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe global art compass / Alistair Hicks.
In the past, writers and critics such as Goethe, Ruskin, and Clement Greenberg perpetuated particular ideas about art and even dictated these ideas to the artists themselves. Today, artists no longer have to follow one prevailing theory and the art world is less centralized in particular cities: New York, London, Paris, Berlin, and Beijing all offer rich environments to artists but none are designated as the exclusive center of the art world. In this book, Alistair Hicks demonstrates his belief that no single curator, critic, or dealer should monopolize our view of what is happening in the art world today, but that by listening to the artists themselves, we can gradually make out an ever-evolving web of patterns, relationships, and themes.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFantasy+. 5, World’s most imaginative artworks / Vincent Zhao.
“This is the 2013 volume in the highly regarded Fantasy+ series. This book collects the latest works from top artists around the world, categorised by their applications, from advertising, book illustration, modeling, games, animation to personal portfolio works. Rich artistic creations and a diverse variety of styles engage the reader in a powerful visual experience. It will provide a valuable reference source of expressive methods and techniques for art and design enthusiasts.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverGallery 1988’s crazy4cult : cult movie art. 2 / introduction by Seth Rogen ; [edited by Gallery 1988].
“There’s probably a more dignified way to enjoy the pop culture group Gallery 1988’s second collection of its Crazy 4 Cult art show than by stopping on every page to show your friends the brilliant takes on -Donnie Darko, The Breakfast Club, Suspiria, or A Clockwork Orange. However, breathless excitement is the honest response to this collection of cult classic-inspired artwork featuring mixed-media takes on beloved films. As actor Seth Rogen says in the book’s introduction, this is an accessible art collection for fans of offbeat interpretations of the movies they grew up watching.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArt : everything you need to know about the greatest artists and their works / Susie Hodge.
“Art introduces readers to 100 of the world’s most important artists and their paintings, from the 13th century to the modern era. Works by artists including Caravaggio, Vermeer, van Gogh and Warhol are reproduced in superb high quality, arranged chronologically and set in their historical context by Susie Hodge’s concise and readable narrative. Including explanations of key periods in art history – from the Early Renaissance to Dutch Realism, and from Rococo to Pop Art – a guide to the world’s best art galleries and a helpful glossary of key terms, this is the perfect book for any art lover.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk description)

Art Recent Picks for February 2014

For February, a festival of fabulous new art books:-

Syndetics book coverContemporary art in the United Kingdom / [edited by Black Dog Publishing ; contributors, Nicolas Bourriaud … [et al.]].
“The fifth title in Black Dog Publishing’s Artworld series, Contemporary Art in the United Kingdom showcases the wealth of contemporary art being produced in the United Kingdom today. Diverse in content and style, Contemporary Art in the United Kingdom features work from artists including, Gavin Turk, Tracey Emin, Fiona Banner, Bob and Roberta Smith, Chris Ofili and Mark Quinn, alongside the work of emerging British artists today. Exploring the phenomenon of the YBA, looking at pre and post-YBA; alongside the growing influence of art fairs such as Frieze and prizes such as the Turner Prize; Contemporary Art in the United Kingdom provides a comprehensive a complexion of the contemporary art scene from all four corners of the British Isles.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverNature morte : contemporary artists reinvigorate the still-life tradition / Michael Petry.
“Current twists on the still life reflect the tradition’s ongoing obsession with death in this survey featuring the work of John Currin, Renata Hegyi, Gabriel Orozco, Cy Twombly, and many others. For Petry (Installation Art in the New Millennium), director of London’s Museum of Contemporary Art, these images are considered nature morte (“dead nature”), as exemplified by the volume’s amusing lenticular cover of an exploding floral arrangement. After discussing the “mortal edge” present in the past five centuries of the still life, Petry traces broad historical changes alongside artistic developments, with selected contemporary works organized into chapters dedicated to “Flora,” “Food,” “House and Home,” “Fauna,” and “Death.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEl Greco : life and work – a new history / Fernando Marías; [translated from the Spanish by Paul Edson and Sander Berg].
“Domenikos Theotokopoulos, known to us as El Greco, was one of the seminal figures of the Spanish Golden Age. This magnificent volume, published to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the artist’s death, features superb new photographs of recently cleaned and restored paintings, revealing hitherto unknown facets of his art. He was a painter not only of religious subjects but also of idiosyncratic portraits executed in his own uniquely dramatic and expressionistic style.” (abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWalk the line : the art of drawing / Marc Valli & Ana Ibarra.
“Drawing has always been a fundamental skill and good drawing skills allowed artists to grasp the reality around them. At the turn of the millennium, however, the general impression was that with the wide availability of computers, scanners, digital cameras and image software, drawing would dwindle into a marginal activity. In fact, the opposite happened: the enthusiasm for digital imagery died down and the ability to draw has become a treasured skill. In the art world, attitudes to drawing have also changed. Drawing became a way of making a statement as an artist, of showing masterly skill something that up to then had been most commonly associated with painting. After centuries in the shadow of its more illustrious fine art relatives, drawing started to be appreciated for its own sake, as an art discipline, an end in itself, an art form.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverQueen: art & image
“This publication, in association with the National Portrait Gallery in London, follows the reign of Queen Elizabeth II documented in photographs and portraits by some of the most important 20th century artists.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverArt of D*Face: one man and his dog
“D*Face has been a leading figure in urban art for well over a decade. A contemporary of Banksy, he was at the forefront of the urban art movement, and has had a constant presence throughout its meteoric rise into popular culture. This long-awaited monograph shows the development of his career as an artist to date, encompassing his continuing street work, and the path that led him from the early beginnings of the street art genre to multiple sell-out solo exhibitions around the world. Containing previously unseen images of his working process and studio, as well as firsthand anecdotes, and the stories behind his extraordinary work, the book provides an insider’s view of one of Britain’s most important urban artists.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Art Recent Picks for January 2014

A selection of new art books as varied as Wellington’s “summer” weather:-

Syndetics book coverFace to face : Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance painting / Paula Nuttall.
“This lavishly illustrated catalogue accompanies an exhibition of the same name at the Huntington Art Collections that runs from September 28, 2013 to January 13, 2014. Co-curator and scholar Paula Nuttall explores the transmission of ideas, techniques, and modes of artistic rendering that first developed in the Burgundian court and became hugely influential in southern Europe—notably painting in Florence, usually considered the artistic epicenter of Renaissance Europe. Nuttall treats thematic groupings of the exhibition, exploring the diptych as an art form, the portrayal of the face of Christ, the development of portraiture, and the virtuosic renderings of materials and textures.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverDamien Hirst : relics / curator, Francesco Bonami ; essays by Francesco Bonami, Abdellah Karroum, Michael Craig-Martin ; and an interview by Nicholas Serota.
“A groundbreaking work, this catalog accompanies the largest exhibition ever realized on Damien Hirst, surveying the oeuvres of the highly acclaimed British artist. Published on the occasion of Relics, Hirst’s first retrospective exhibition in Doha, Qatar, this richly illustrated book offers a different perspective on the work of one of the best-known artists working today. Tracing Hirst’s career from his emergence on the art scene in the Young British Artists movement to his present status as one of the most controversial and highly regarded artists of his generation, this volume offers a complete overview on his wide-ranging practice, which includes installation, painting, sculpture, and drawing and challenges the boundaries between art, science, and popular culture.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAmerican mirror : the life and art of Norman Rockwell / Deborah Solomon.
“In this well-paced, insightful biography of the iconic illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post, art critic Solomon (Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell) reveals an enormously complicated man whose wholesome vision of America was not merely commercial kitsch, but art that sprung from an emotional life fraught with anxiety, depression, and self-doubt. This sympathetic portrait depicts a repressed and humble Rockwell-a fastidious realist whose style and obsessions clashed with the values of modernism… Though Solomon opts to simplify and quickly dismiss criticism of Rockwell (such as Dwight Macdonald’s), her substantive narrative captures the abundant complexities of this unusual artist, and reclaims him as a master storyteller.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBalthus : cats and girls / Sabine Rewald.
“Accompanying an exhibition at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art that opens in September 2013, this captivating catalogue focuses on French painter Balthus (aka Balthasar Klossowski, 1908-2001) and his obsession with childhood and the pubescent girls who modeled for his best-known works. Veteran Balthus scholar Rewald, a curator of modern and contemporary art at the Met, lucidly provides both the biographical and art-historical context for Balthus’s young subjects, whom he often depicted in gawky poses that heighten the tension between their innocence and looming puberty. Balthus vehemently denied the work’s eroticism. The girls are typically accompanied by smug cats-possibly erotic symbols and perhaps “a stand-in for the artist.” Cats had been a theme of Balthus’s since his childhood; at age 11, he completed 40 ink sketches of a stray he called Mitsou, and published the sketches with the support of poet Rainer Maria Rilke; they are splendidly reproduced here.” (Adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe Vatican : all the paintings / Anja Grebe ; introduction by Ross King.
“This comprehensive and heavy tome illustrates all the works of art on display in the Vatican and underscores the variety of its art, including works that popes commissioned from painters as well as works that were accumulated for art appreciation and prestige beginning in the 17th century. The book is divided into 22 sections representing the museums and areas of the Vatican. This includes the Pinacoteca (painting gallery), with paintings given to or purchased by the popes or removed from altarpieces of papal churches. Also included are images of art from the Borgia Apartments, the famous Raphael Rooms, and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. This book, which has a DVD that includes every work of art, will appeal to readers who are interested in the art of the Vatican.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Art Recent Picks for December 2013

Art now, and then: several new and fascinating surveys of the art world for the festive season:-

Syndetics book coverArt now. Vol. 4 / [edited by Hans Werner Holzwarth].
“Think of this tome as a global go-round of the world’s most influential galleries: if it’s hot in the art world today, it’s in this book. Emerging artists are featured alongside established greats like Chuck Close, David Hockney, or Brice Marden. A to Z entries on more than 100 artists include images of important recent work, an introductory text, and a short exhibition history with bibliographical information. The illustrated appendix collects contact details for the galleries representing the artists as well as auction results of the last few years” (adapted from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverA map of the world : according to illustrators & storytellers / edited by Antonis Antoniou, Robert Klanten, Sven Ehmann, and Hendrik Hellige.
“Maps help us understand the world. This book features the most original and sought-after map illustrators whose work is in line with the zeitgeist. Drawing a map means understanding our world a bit better. For centuries, we have used the tools of cartography to represent both our immediate surroundings and the world at large–and to convey them to others… A new generation of designers, illustrators, and mapmakers are currently discovering their passion for various forms of illustrative cartography. A Map of the World is a compelling collection of their work.” (adapted from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverArt since 1980 : charting the contemporary / Peter R. Kalb.
“Charts the story of art in contemporary global culture while holding up a mirror to our society. With over 300 pictures of painting, photography, sculpture, installation, and performance and video art, we are led on an illuminating journey via the individuals and communities who have shaped art internationally” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverMasterpieces of Chinese painting, 700-1900 / edited by Zhang Hongzing ; with essays by Ling Lizhong … [et al.].
“Painting has always been regarded by the Chinese as a supreme art, equal to those of poetry and philosophy. But dating back over 2,500 years, many Chinese paintings were made to be viewed just for a few hours or weeks. As a result, the masterpieces of the form have been seen very rarely, and then only by a few. This spectacular book accompanies a major V&A [Victoria & Albert Museum, UK] exhibition that brings together some of the world’s greatest paintings on silk and paper—many of which will be displayed only for a short time. All the paintings are reproduced in full, together with enlarged details.” (adapted from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverArt cities of the future / 21st century avant-gardes / authors, Antawan I. Byrd, Suygu Demir, Hyun Jung [and nine others].
“The explosion of global biennials and art fairs has been cited by some as the instrumentalisation of the art world by the financial world. Others see it as a sign of the destabilization of Western dominance and the emergence of new art centers. This book takes the latter position, arguing for 12 new international sites-Beirut, Bogota, Cluj, Delhi, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Lagos, San Juan, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Singapore, and Vancouver. Another significant effect of this opening of art worlds is the rise to prominence of the curator as a key figure who both elucidates and organizes this new topography. This work brings together curators from the regions mentioned above, each of whom has a highly specialized background. Each title city is introduced with a brief description of the locale’s political and contemporary art history written by the curator. Eight artists (and collectives) represent the avant-garde of their cities, and all share a commitment to experimental art and to their local milieu…” (abridged from Syndetics summary)

Art Recent Picks

Six wonderful new art books including: Street art, Chinese art, art scandals, and Breakfast with Lucian [Freud].

Syndetics book coverThe museum of scandals : art that shocked the world / Éléa Baucheron, Diane Routex.
“Art scandals are as old as art itself. Centuries ago, the liberal representation of naked flesh and all-too-obvious hints at political injustice broke many a taboo. In modern and contemporary art, too, provocative actions regularly attract attention. In this stunning book Éléa Baucheron and Diane Routex have collected the most outrageous scandals of art history from the Middle Ages to the present day, from Michelangelo to Ai Weiwei.” (Cover)

Syndetics book coverThe Chinese art book / contributors, Colin Mackenzie, Keith Pratt, Jeffrey Moser, Katie Hill.
“Taking on a dauntingly vast topic, this book attempts to survey discrete images and historical contexts from the long history of Chinese art while maintaining threads of cohesion. China is widely considered the oldest extant civilization, and the visual arts that emerged from Chinese cultures remained intricately entwined with their attendant politics, spiritualties, and material realities. Rather than organize this immense visual history along chronology or medium, the authors present the generously reproduced images in suggestive pairings on opposing pages, each work receiving its own page and a brief contextualization… The necessary concision of the prose, the lavish beauty of the images, and the accompanying timelines of Chinese and world history all aid in creating a pleasurable, heuristic read, worth the distraction regardless of the reader’s familiarity with calligraphic techniques or dynastic histories.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPainted on 21st street : Helen Frankenthaler from 1950 to 1959 / curated by John Elderfield ; in cooperation with the Estate of Helen Frankenthaler.
“Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) came to New York City in 1949 at age 21 and created many of her most original paintings in the 1950s, in a studio on East 21st Street. This handsome book includes many superb reproductions of her paintings from the period and follows Gagosian Gallery’s spring 2013 exhibition of her ’50s work-the first time these paintings had been shown together in more than 40 years. An informative and thoughtful essay by Elderfield, chief curator emeritus of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, introduces the collection, convincingly arguing that it’s crucial to go beyond painter Morris Louis’s description of Frankenthaler as “a bridge between Pollock and what was possible”; we must instead view her work as “its own destination,” he writes” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe art of drawing : British masters and methods since 1600 / Susan Owens.
“This beautiful book reveals works from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s rich collection of drawings ranging from the early 17th century right up to the present day. Reproducing, often for the first time, works by foremost British artists, this book offers fresh insights into the wide range of ways in which these artists have used drawing to think on paper, build up ideas, and make finished exhibition pieces. Including examples from the greatest masters—William Blake, Thomas Rowlandson, John Constable, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Paul Nash, Lucian Freud, David Hockney, John Piper, Grayson Perry, and others—author Susan Owens discusses the art and craft of drawing, materials, and techniques, and why artists chose them.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverBreakfast with Lucian : a portrait of the artist / Geordie Greig.
“For ten years Geordie Greig was among a very small group of friends who regularly met Lucian Freud for breakfast at Clarke’s restaurant on Kensington Church Street. Over tea and the morning papers, Freud would recount stories of his past and discuss art. It was, in effect, Freud’s private salon. In this kaleidoscopic memoir, Greig remembers Freud’s stories: of death threats; escaping from Nazi Germany; falling out with his brother Clement; loathing his mother; painting David Hockney; sleeping with horses; escaping the Krays; painting the Queen; his controversial role as a father; and why Velazquez was the greatest painter. It is revelatory about his art, his lovers, his children, his enemies and his love of gambling.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe world atlas of street art and graffiti / Rafael Schacter ; foreword by John Fekner.
“Since its genesis on the East Coast of the United States in the late 1960s, street art has travelled to nearly every corner of the globe, morphing into highly ornate and vibrant new styles. From Steve Powers (Espo) in New York to Kid Zoom in Australia, taking in Banksy’s London, Paris as transfigured by Honet and OX, and the gargantuan murals of the Brazilian twins ‘Os Gêmeos’, The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti is the first truly geographical history of the form. Featuring specially commissioned works from major graffiti and street art practitioners, The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti offers the reader an insider’s view of the urban landscape as the artists themselves experience it. This beautifully illustrated book, produced with the help of many of the artists it features, dispels the idea of such art as a thoughtless defacement of pristine surfaces, and instead celebrates it as a contemporary and highly creative inscription upon the skin of the built environment.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Art recent picks August 2013

Syndetics book coverCornelia Parker / Iwona Blazwick ; foreword by Yoko Ono ; introduction by Bruce W. Ferguson ; commentaries by Cornelia Parker.
“Described as a “physicist with the virtuoso skills of a craftsperson,” British conceptual artist Parker (born in 1956) has received glowing praise since the 1990s for her scientific research-based work and violent transformations of found objects. Wonderfully photographed and featuring a foreword by Yoko Ono … Unfortunately, Blazwick’s five essays do not adequately explain Parker’s enthusiasm for objects associated with history and famous people: a light-box display of Mia Farrow’s blue gown from Rosemary’s Baby; photomicrographs of Einstein’s chalk board; a pillow cut by Henry VIII’s sword. Viewers are supposed to be intrigued by these historical abstractions, but they can feel superfluous. As Parker writes, “Very often, the process involved in my work is just a flimsy excuse to get my hands on these objects that changed the face of history.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverFrancis Bacon : painting in a Godless world / Rina Arya.
“Arya (Univ. of Wolverhampton, UK) examines a contradiction of Francis Bacon’s oeuvre: the atheist’s denigrating use of religious imagery that seems to reinforce the potential meaning of the source material. According to Arya, Bacon’s art engages questions of theological debate while exploring the human condition through themes such as animalism, violence, suffering, alienation, and death … In examining connections between Bacon’s life, art, and religious association of symbolic and compositional devices, the book achieves its chief aim of consolidating recognition of religion’s significance in Bacon’s art…” (Syndetics review)

Syndetics book coverBoaz Vaadia : sculpture 1971-2012 / essay by Wendy Steiner ; foreword by Ivan C. Karp ; introduction by Anthony Brown ; artist Impressions by Boaz Vaadia.
“Eye-catching, life-size, and natural stone sculptures creatively conceived and intricately constructed that stop passersby in their tracks, are the hallmark of sculptor Boaz Vaadia. Drawing inspiration chiefly from what Vaadia calls ‘the primal connection to nature,’ he carves and assembles multilayered figurative pieces from glacial boulders and bluestone – originally discovered by Vaadia when bluestone sidewalks in SoHo were being replaced by concrete in the mid-1970s. He sculpts the bluestone in assorted sizes and colours to portray stunning likenesses – all named from the Old Testament – of family members, friends, and even the occasional accompanying dog or cat…” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverZainul Abedin / edited by Rosa Maria Falvo, with essays by Abul Monsur, Nazrul Islam, and Abul Hasnat.
“Zainul Abedin (1914-1976), reverently called the Shilpacharya or guru of art, is the architect of the modern art movement in Bangladesh, which began with the setting up of the first Government Art Institute in Dhaka in 1948. For his devotion to art education and his visionary and artistic achievements he has always been the undisputed protagonist of the Bangladeshi modern art scene. This book showcases Zainul Abedin’s work over a period of 40 years, with more than 200 colour and black and white plates illustrating his special relationship with his country, from various artistic, social, and political perspectives. This ground-breaking work retraces his personal vision and provides the best interpretative angles into a culture and reality that has been often overlooked and even misunderstood in the West. Abedin’s humanitarian stance and his commitment to art forged the way for an entire generation of Bangladeshi contemporary artists”
(adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverThe Bay Area School : Californian artists from the 1950s and 1960s / Thomas Williams.
“Tracing the development of Abstract Expressionism and the counter-blast of Figurative art on the West Coast of America during a decisive period, this important publication marks a milestone in the on-going understanding of the post-war art scene in the United States. The movement had its origins in the art schools of San Francisco and Berkeley in the early 1940s and rose to prominence in the 1950s as a major challenge to the dominance of New York. Starting with the work of the ‘first generation’ artists, such as David Park and Richard Diebenkorn, whose pioneering images explored both figuration and abstraction, the movement’s ‘bridge’ and ‘second’ generation artists, including Paul Wonner and Joan Brown, also feature. Including insightful discussions regarding the importance of drawing as a group activity, The Bay Area School skilfully presents a thorough survey of key works of the period and successfully argues the mutual influence of abstraction and figuration during this critical period, demonstrating, in turn, the continued importance of the these artists today” (amazon.com description)

Art recent picks for July 2013

Take a few art vitamins to fend off the cold! Try these great new books:

Syndetics book coverVitamin D2 : new perspectives in drawing / project editor, Matt Price.
“This handsome sequel to Phaidon’s 2005 contemporary drawing survey, Vitamin D, is a generous overview of the last eight years in drawing, a medium traditionally perceived as playing a lesser role in visual art, but one that, nevertheless, carries spontaneity, humor, and political bite-traits that characterize this broad and richly illustrated volume. Nominated by 78 curators, critics, art historians, and museum and gallery directors, the 115 represented artists (some emerging, some established) convey the limitless possibilities of the medium, not to mention the staggering diversity of recent art…”(Publisher Weekly) (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMilk and honey : contemporary art in California / by Justin Van Hoy.
“Milk and Honey: Contemporary Art in California” highlights new work by contemporary artists who are aesthetically and regionally joined through a variety of mediums and demographics. By showcasing unknown and emerging artists alongside established icons who all call California home, “Milk and Honey” recognizes the fact that region and lifestyle directly influence the working process and ultimately the state of contemporary imagery. In the same spirit as Roger Gastman and Jeffrey Deitch’s recent seminal MOCA show: Art in the Streets, “Milk and Honey” celebrates a group of contemporary artists with roots across various areas, including graffiti art, surf, and skate culture, and other uniquely Californian influences…” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverHopper drawing / Carter E. Foster ; with contributions by Daniel S. Palmer … [et al.].
“In 1967, Hopper’s widow, Josephine Nivison Hopper, bequeathed her husband’s artistic estate to the Whitney Museum of American Art, including a fascinating collection of more than 2,500 drawings spanning his entire career. This group of works has never been the subject of in-depth study and many have never been reproduced before. Hopper kept these drawings for personal reference as he revisited various themes throughout his career. Carter E. Foster examines how Hopper used his drawings to develop his paintings, arguing that the artist’s work can only be fully understood after careful study of these preparatory sketches. Foster also argues that Hopper was, in many ways, a traditional draftsman who methodically developed schematic ideas into detailed studies to refine content. However, the steps toward this refinement are unique to Hopper and reveal how he turned the mundane into poetic images with universal appeal.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverStreet art London / Frank Steam156 Malt.
“London: The Capital of Street Art – Banksy isn’t the only one to express himself on the streets of London. Names like D-Face, Eine, Mobstr and Paul Insect vie for space with international guests such as Obey, Roa, Mr. Brainwash and C215. Street Art London is focused on the latest and best of London’s many street artists. The ephemeral pieces that infuse the street scene with new meaning are preserved in this book, which also sets them in a broader context. Full of unique quotes from many of the artists, Street Art London is a unique opportunity to find the cream of the crop, and to become inspired by, and acquainted with, the street artists of London.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverShort cuts : artists in China / Thomas Fuesser.
“In this stylishly designed book of photographs, German photographer Fuesser documents his interactions with Chinese artists since he first began photographing them in the 1990s, when the now-successful subjects of these 17 portraits were unknown. As art dealer Lorenz Helbling notes in one of the four introductory essays, back then “the country was stirring with reforms and the unprecedented atmosphere was the catalyst for a select group of artists to fly well above the cultural clouds.” …The journey through these photographs is thrilling. The minimal text, which, in addition to introductory essays by curators and critics, includes artists interviewing and commenting on another-is strikingly idiosyncratic and sometimes perhaps tellingly obtuse. Although female artists are underrepresented, the journey through these photographs is revelatory.” (Publisher Weekly) (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPicasso and truth : from Cubism to Guernica / T.J. Clark.
“This masterful volume reproduces six lectures that U.C. Berkeley emeritus art historian Clark (Farewell to an Idea) gave at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in 2009 as part of the prestigious Mellon Lecture series. The renowned scholar (and member of Retort, a Bay-area-based collective of radical leftist writers and thinkers) tracks Picasso’s work from the 1920s through the ’30s with gusto and precision, culminating in a close look at the 1937 masterpiece, Guernica… This satisfyingly rigorous book is grounded in Picasso’s paintings and drawings throughout.” (Publisher Weekly) (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Art recent picks for June 2013

Make a modern art cake! using one of our fabulous new arty books for June 2013:-

Syndetics book coverModern art desserts : recipes for cakes, cookies, confections, and frozen treats based on iconic works of art / Caitlin Freeman ; photography by Clay McLachlan ; contributions from Tara Duggan ; curator’s notes by Janet Bishop ; foreword by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
“… Although all of baker-author (The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, 2012) Freeman’s inspirations have been prompted by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, it’s hard to believe that photographer Francesca Woodman’s works could be classified as iconic especially since her portfolio spans only a few years. Nonetheless, this is a remarkably innovative collection of more than 30 dessert recipes, all of which are modeled on art owned by the museum …” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArtwork / Peter Campbell.
“Peter Campbell was the resident designer and art critic for the London Review of Books. He worked for the magazine from its first appearance in 1979 and wrote more than 300 pieces, mainly about art but also about such things as escalators, weeds, bicycles, bridges and hearts. Each fortnight from 1996 onwards, Peter created a cover illustration for the LRB, coming up with a seemingly infinite array of unpredictable images: a yacht and a starfish, a tram, two knickerbocker glories, a game of dominoes, a man walking past a lighted window at night… Artwork is a collection of Peter’s finest works over the years”. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to read contemporary art / Michael Wilson.
“Today’s artists create work that’s challenging, complicated and often perplexing. Exploring the significance and impact of a broad selection of the most prominent artists working in Europe, North and Latin America, Asia and Australasia, including Francis Alys, Marina Abramovi’c, Allora and Calzadilla, Maurizio Cattelan, Luc Tuymans and many more, ‘How to Read Contemporary Art’ provides a thoughtful and accessible key to understanding the everchanging face of art practice at the beginning of the 21st century. Organized alphabetically by artist, it describes each artists use of media and symbolism in reference to their key pieces, and provides useful biographical information. Encompassing work in video, film, photography, installation, sculpture, painting, drawing, digital media and performance, this is a vibrant and vital companion for art lovers everywhere”. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBiennials and beyond : exhibitions that made art history, 1962-2002 / conceived and edited by Phaidon editors and Bruce Altshuler ; introductory essay and chapter introductions by Bruce Altshuler.
“This superbly produced companion volume to Altshuler’s Salon to Biennial: Exhibitions That Made Art History: 1863-1959 (2008) begins with the premise that installation photographs, catalogues, newspapers, and journals are vital documents of artistic and curatorial practice that need to be rescued from potential obscurity. Organized chronologically, the book showcases 25 seminal art exhibitions through archival photographs of artists, their art, and exhibition spaces alongside catalogue statements, exhibition materials, letters, and interviews from artists, including Jim Dine, Douglas Huebler, and Joseph Kosuth, as well as criticism from publications including Art in America, Artforum, Studio International, and Frieze…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreat and mighty things : outsider art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz collection / edited by Ann Percy with Cara Zimmerman ; contributions by Francesco Clemente, Lynne Cooke, Joanne Cubbs, Bernard L. Herman, Ann Percy, Colin Rhodes, and Cara Zimmerman.
“Accompanying an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this volume celebrates the artistically diverse “outsider” artists that comprise the Bonovitz Collection, one of the most extensive of its kind. The included artists worked outside of the conventional art establishment-making street corners into galleries or discarded roofing into canvases, for instance-before being brought into the art market by collectors and curators, often posthumously. The catalogue itself is the book’s heart, offering lavish reproductions alongside brief notes on the artists’ biographies and methods…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJohn Singer Sargent watercolors / Erica E. Hirshler and Teresa A. Carbone ; introduction by Richard Ormond ; technical essay by Annette Manick and Antoinette Owen ; contributions by Karen A. Sherry, Janet Chen, and Connie H. Choi.
“John Singer Sargent’s approach to watercolor was unconventional. Disregarding contemporary aesthetic standards that called for carefully delineated and composed landscapes filled with transparent washes, his confidently bold, dense strokes, loosely defined forms, and unexpected vantage points startled critics and fellow practitioners alike. One reviewer of an exhibition in London proclaimed him “an eagle in a dove-cote”; another called his work “swagger” watercolors. For Sargent, watercolors were not so much about swagger as about a renewed and liberated approach to painting. His vision became more personal and his works began to interconnect as he considered the way one image–often of friends or favorite places–enhanced another”. (adapted from Syndetics summary)