New Art Picks for August

With something to offer for everyone this selection zig-zags between pop and cult culture, modernism and minimalism, to advice for practising artists. If you haven’t encountered artists Mark Wallinger or Nick Cave’s work (the artist not the singer) I suggest you seek them out. Mark Wallinger is first in this line up and Re:purposed further down the line features Nick Cave’s work. Curiosity and the lure of materiality makes Magnificent Obsessions (on the objects artists are drawn to collect) is fascinating read and well worth picking up.

Syndetics book coverMark Wallinger / Sally O’Reilly.
“Painter, sculptor, and video artist Mark Wallinger has created some of the most intelligent and irreverent work of the last 25 years. Winner of the Turner Prize in 2007, Wallinger is well known for his 50-meter sculpture of a white horse standing in the English countryside and a multipart work, Labyrinth , made for the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. Like all titles in this series, the book has 100 color illustrations and a new interview with the artist.” (Adapted syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHigh art: public art on the High Line
“High Art surveys the first five years of art on the High Line, the unique elevated park in New York City created through the repurposing of an abandoned railway line. Since 2009, when the High Line was opened to the public, nineteen million visitors have been witness to more than 100 public art projects animating the grounds of this unique “park in the sky.”  The High Line is steadily broadening the audience for contemporary art while pushing the boundaries of traditional public art programs.” (Adapted syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAgnes Martin: her life and art
“Over the course of a career that spanned fifty years, Agnes Martin’s austere, serene work anticipated and helped to define Minimalism. “I paint with my back to the world,” she says both at the beginning and at the conclusion of a documentary filmed when she was in her late eighties. No substantial critical monograph exists on this acclaimed artist; who was championed by critics as diverse in their approaches as Lucy Lippard, Lawrence Alloway, and Rosalind Krauss.  Agnes Martin is essential reading for anyone interested in abstract art or the history of women artists in America.” (Adapted syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUnexpected art : serendipitous installations, site-specific works, and surprising interventions / Jenny Moussa Spring, Florentijn Hofman, Christian L. Frock. (Overdrive E-Book)
“Graffiti made from cake icing, man-made clouds floating indoors, a luminous moon resting on water. Collected here are dozens of jaw-dropping artworks – site-specific installations, extraordinary sculptures, and groundbreaking interventions in public spaces – that reveal the exciting things that happen when contemporary artists play with the idea of place.” (Adapted syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPainting Beyond Pollock
“Painting Beyond Pollock is a captivating account of the history of European and American painting from the mid20th century onwards. Art historian and critic Morgan Falconer presents an extensively researched piece of writing that explains why painting has surged in popularity since Jackson Pollock and the Abstract Expressionists began painting in the late 1940s-early 1950s.”  (Adapted syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRe:purposed / by Matthew McLendon.
“What is ‘garbage’? ‘Trash’? ‘Rubbish’? More than a hundred years after Marcel Duchamp changed the course of Western art by re-focusing our view of ‘found objects’, artists today continue to explore ‘refuse’ and its many uses and meanings in contemporary art. Each theme is a potent reminder of our close connection to the materials we use to create and facilitate our lives. In the deft hands of these artists, those connections are far from severed when these materials are discarded.” (Adapted syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverListening to stone: the art and life of Isamu Noguchi
“Throughout the twentieth century, Isamu Noguchi was a vital figure in modern art. From interlocking wooden sculptures to massive steel monuments to the elegant Akari lamps, Noguchi became a master of what he called the “sculpturing of space” constantly striving to “take the essence of nature and distill it.” Herrera locates Noguchi in his friendships with such artists as Buckminster Fuller and Arshile Gorky, and in his affairs with women including Frida Kahlo and Anna Matta Clark. Listening to Stone is a moving portrait of an artist compulsively driven to reinvent himself as he searched for his own “essence of sculpture.”” (Adapted syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverFrida Kahlo and Diego Rivera : Mexican Modern Art
“Few artists have captured the public’s imagination with the force of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Icons respectively of surrealism and the Mural Movement, their work reflected their immersion in indigenous Mexican culture while looking ahead to progressive ideals and wielding a defining influence on Mexican Modernism.Set in the broader context of the Mexican modernist movement, Kahlo’s and Rivera’s pieces are accompanied by works by such other masters as José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo, and Leonora Carrington.” (Adapted syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPulp Macabre : The Art of Lee Brown Coye’s Final and Darkest Era
“No other artist working in mid-century pulp fiction created work as twisted as Lee Brown Coye. By the 1970s, after surviving a life-threatening illness, Coye would outdo himself, creating lurid illustrations exclusive to rare privately published books and fanzines. Pulp Macabre showcases Coye’s final and darkest era, containing some of the most passionately ghoulish artwork ever made.” (Adapted syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMagnificent obsessions : the artist as collector / editorial coordination, Lincoln Dexter.
“This unique and revealing book probes the aesthetic and psychological dimensions of collecting and shows how objects can influence and reflect their owners’ work.  A lead essay examines the reasons why artists collect, attempting to understand the relationship between the objects artists amass and the works they make, and contributions by or on each of the artists reflect on the personal significance of collecting habits.” (Adapted syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn Artist Friendship : An Artist Friendship
“The catalogue brings together the paintings, watercolours, drawings, handcrafts, objects, and documents of August Macke and Franz Marc, demonstrating their influence on one another’s work. The friendship between Marc (1880-1916) and Macke (1887-1914) was of vital importance to both painters, and defined their work.  Despite conceptual and cultural-political differences, a deep mutual affection characterised their joint undertakings.” (Adapted syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSee Hear Yoko
“See Hear Yoko is a visual portrait of an icon of contemporary American cultural history, from her days with John Lennon through to the present. Rock Photographer Bob Gruen has selected more than three hundred classic color and black-and-white photographs–accompanied by text of Yoko’s insights gleaned from Denberg’s many hours of interviews–to illuminate the intimate story of Yoko Ono. Lavish and beautiful, See Hear Yoko brings into focus an extraordinary woman, and one of the most memorable periods in modern history.” (Adapted syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArt before breakfast : a zillion ways to be more creative, no matter how busy you are / by Danny Gregory.
“This unique guide serves up a hearty helping of inspiration for aspiring artists who want to draw and paint but just can’t seem to find time in the day. Packed with practical instructions on techniques and materials there are also strategies for making work that’s exciting, unintimidating, and fulfilling.  Art Before Breakfast teaches readers how to develop a creative habit and lead a richer life through making art.” (Adapted syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDrawing and painting : materials and techniques for contemporary artists / [Kate Wilson]
“Bursting with practical techniques, engaging artist profiles and inspirational galleries, Drawing & Painting combines an authoritative category killer approach with a contemporary aesthetic guaranteed to appeal to all artists.” (Adapted syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMāori art : history, architecture, landscape and theory / Rangihiroa Panoho ; with photographs by Mark Adams & Haruhiko Sameshima.
“This book presents a unique focus on Maori art by exploring the connection between the traditional and contemporary, and the place of Maori art within an international context. Maori Art provides a framework for looking at Maori art in a new way and fills a gap in Maori art history – while there are myriad surveys of Maori art there is currently very little critical writing on Maori art and artists.”(Adapted syndetics summary)

Recent Art Picks for March

A showcase of some of the recent art books to our collection.

Syndetics book coverVan Gogh: a power seething
Van Gogh is a vivid portrait of the great Impressionist painter that traces his life from the Netherlands, where he was born into a family of art dealers, through his years in England, the Hague, and Paris, to his final home in Arles, where he discovered the luminous style of his late paintings before his suicide at the age of thirty-seven. Julian Bell conveys Van Gogh’s tragic story with great compassion, depicting van Gogh in all his anguished vigor.” (Adapted from Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverAndy Warhol diaries
“Spanning the mid 1970s until just a few days before his death in 1987, The Andy Warhol Diaries is a compendium of the more than twenty thousand pages of the artists diary that he dictated daily to Pat Hackett. In it Warhool gives us the ultimate backstage pass to practically everything that went on in his world both high and low.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy the romantics matter
“With his usual wit and elan, esteemed historian Peter Gay enters the contentious, long-standing debates over the romantic period and provides a fresh account of the immense achievements of romantic writers and artists in all media.Guiding readers through the history of the romantic movement across Britain, France, Germany, and Switzerland, Gay argues that the best way to conceptualize romanticism is to accept its complicated nature.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverWassily Kandinsky : masterpieces of art / Michael Kerrigan.
“Wassily Kandinsky, was a renowned Russian-born painter who is often regarded as one of the earliest pioneers of abstract art. Beginning with a fresh and thoughtful introduction to Kandinsky’s life and art, spanning his early paintings inspired by Russian folk art and fairy tales to his later works characterised by contrasting colours and striking geometric shapes.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe contemporaries : travels in the 21st-century art world / Roger White.
“It’s been nearly a century since Marcel Duchamp exhibited a urinal and called it art. Since then contemporary art has now expanded to include just about any object, action, or event.  In The Contemporaries , Roger White, himself a young painter, serves as our guide through this diffuse creative world, offering a glimpse of the inner workings of the American art world at a moment of unparalleled ambition, uncertainty, and creative exuberance.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Basilica of St Francis in Assisi / edited by Gianfranco Malafarina ; introduction by Chiara Frugoni ; photographs by Elio Ciol, Stefan Ciol and Ghigo Roli.
“The Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi is famed for its sequence of frescoes that celebrate the life and teachings of St. Francis. Aided by a wealth of beautiful photographs this is a guided tour of this magnificent complex. Rarely seen details allow the personal imprints of the artists to shine through, united by a desire to mirror reality while maintaining a sense of the spiritual and the sublime.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverSargent: portraits of artists and friends
“John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was one of the leading painters of his generation, whose captivating portraits are universally admired for their insight into character, radiance of light and color, and painterly fluency and immediacy. This book gives us a picture of the artist as an intellectual and connoisseur of the music, art, and literature of his day.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGo figure! new perspectives on Guston
“Go Figure!, considers the late work of Guston illustrating the enduring power of his work, particularly the fireworks generated by expressive contradictions embodied in his last paintings. Among the lessons Guston still has to teach is the necessity of constantly messing up the tidy models of artistic “progress” that aesthetic ideologues and tastemakers keep handing down from on high.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Recent Art Picks

Squeezing in at the end of January, these recent additions to our library collection have a contemporary and urban focus. Of particular note is John Tusa’s “Pain in the Arts” highlighting  the political controversies the arts continually face and the battles it continues to fight. Despite economic downturns and political agendas he argues for the sake of excellence and the value of art and its place in our society.

Syndetics book coverWeak messages create bad situations: a manifesto
“Weak messages create bad situations. Strong messages create good situations. Turner Prize-nominated artist David Shrigley is here to help.
Shrigley has exhibited at the Tate Modern in London, at the MoMA in New York, and in Paris, Berlin, Melbourne and beyond.  He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2013 and lives and works in Glasgow.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverArt in time : a world history of styles and movements / project editor, Tom Melick.
“An essential guide to art styles and movements and a history of world art from the present day to Greek antiquity, this book places the reader in the art historian’s seat, offering an opportunity to work backwards from our own time and reconnect the dots, or even find new dots to connect.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverTalk about street art / Jérome Catz ; translated from the French by Anna Hiddleston-Galloni.
“Graffiti and street art have long been part of our visual culture. The artist’s engagement and state of mind are important components of street art; the book covers topics such as anonymity, the art form’s dangerous nature, codes of conduct, and ideological engagement, as well as the interface of street art with contemporary art, pop surrealism, toy art, and music and sport. Street art is found on every continent, and the book gives focus to each country and its own modes of expression and specificities.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe art of mistakes : unexpected painting techniques & the practice of creative thinking / Melanie Rothschild.
“When it comes to mistakes, we’re all experts. Really. Yet fear of making mistakes often holds us back from trying new things. Whether you are a seasoned artist, or just getting started, learning to embrace and use mistakes can spell the beginning of a new chapter in your art-making life. Showcasing 16 painting techniques to encourage creative thinking and experimentation this book is about how mistakes can serve your art and creativity.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverComics unmasked : art and anarchy in the UK / Paul Gravett, John Harris Dunning.
“Paul Gravett and John Harris Dunning look beyond the notion of comics as pleasure reading to focus on their inherently anarchic nature.  Combing the British Library’s extensive comic collection not only to explore the full potential of the medium they have also singled out the critical points in history in which the art form challenged the status quo. Comics Unmasked explores the political and social issues raised by British comics and their creators over the last century, from violence and drugs to class and sexuality.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverTraining days : the subway artists then and now / Henry Chalfant & Sacha Jenkins.
Training Days focuses on graffiti culture from the mid-1970s until the early 1980s, offering a counterculture viewpoint on the unifying power of graffiti; many artists commented about the lack of race or class distinctions.  Whether the images that accompany the text strike the reader as art is a matter of individual taste, but the ultimate fascination lies in the artists’ dissection and analyses of their own styles and those of their contemporaries.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverConcrete canvas: how street art is changing the way our cities look
“What happens when you look at graffiti and street art as unlimited art forms instead of urban phenomena? ‘Concrete Canvas’ investigates the media the artists work with, the canvases they work on, the themes that arise through their work, and the way their art redefines the spaces in which it is set.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverPain in the arts / John Tusa.
“Over a distinguished career in cultural leadership, management and journalism spanning almost 30 years, John Tusa has amassed a unique experience of the arts world, the political controversies it faces and the battles it continues to fight.  Tusa addresses the controversies in the arts that must be resolved so urgently today, including the ever-flowing arguments on whether they should be useful before they are excellent. He gives guidance on how the arts can survive in the downturn and explains why the case must always be made that they deserve special treatment.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe art and life of Chaouki Chamoun.
“Chaouki Chamoun is one of the Middle East’s most renowned artists. With 319 color plates to illustrate his story, Chamoun leads us through his own artistic journey, showing how the schools of the modern era have informed his technique and imagery, and how he has been motivated and inspired as much by the tiniest details of a pebble as by the political turmoil visited on his homeland. Born in Lebanon in 1942,  Chaouki Chamoun has participated in over fifty group art shows and biennales since 1969.He is the president of the Lebanese Artists Association and has studied at both Syracuse and New York universities.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

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.” (Amazon.co.uk)

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)

 

 

Spring Art Books – Recent Picks

Our spring selection of recently acquired art books offers fresh possibilities and insights about contemporary art for everyone; from the consummate art buff to those taking an interest for the first time.  Packed full of visually appealing images the notable element of this selection is that  many are of a compact size and are very transportable despite the plethora of complex ideas they contain.

Syndetics book coverWays of looking : how to experience contemporary art / Ossian Ward.
“This book provides a straightforward, six-step programme for understanding contemporary art based on the concept of the tabula rasa a clean slate and a fresh mind. Because artists increasingly work across traditional media and genres, the author has also developed an alternative classification system Art as Entertainment, Art as Confrontation, Art as Joke designed to help make sense of otherwise obscure-seeming works. Ways of Looking transforms a potentially intimidating encounter with cutting edge contemporary art into a dramatic, sensually rewarding and thought provoking experience.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverPortraits: 50 paintings you should know
“Featuring exquisite full-page reproductions accompanied by engaging texts, each of the 50 iconic portraits in this book exemplifies a moment in history, or a turning point in the artist’s career.  An introductory essay on the history and importance of the portrait in art history and brief biographies of each artist round out this survey which is an attractive and affordable package.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMyself: portraits of 40 great artists
“This book is a fascinating combination of biographical anecdote and art history. Self-portraits have been created by man from ancient times through to the Middle Ages and beyond, for many different reasons and in many different forms. Juliet Heslewood, art historian and author, has brought together a compelling collection of forty artists’ self-portraits, and the stories behind each one from Durer, Da Vinci and Rembrandt, to Van Gogh, Matisse and Kahlo.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverShow time : the 50 most influential exhibitions of contemporary art / Jens Hoffmann.
“Show Time is the first book to explore the radical shifts that have taken place in the practice of curating contemporary art over the last twenty years. Tracing a history of the field through its most innovative shows, renowned curator Jens Hoffmann has selected the fifty exhibitions that have most significantly shaped the practice of both artists and exhibition curators.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverArt Inc. : the essential guide for building your career as an artist / Lisa Condon ; edited by Meg Mateo Ilasco ; foreword by Jonathan Fields ; illustrations, Karolin Schnoor.
“In this practical guide, professional artist Lisa Congdon reveals the many ways you can earn a living by making art. Including industry advice from such successful art-world pros as Nikki McClure, Mark Hearld, Paula Scher, and more, Art, Inc. will equip you with the tools,and the confidence, to turn your passion into a profitable business.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverBig art, small art / Tristan Manco.
“Scale is being taken to new extremes in art: big and bold on the one hand, intricate and intimate on the other. This book profiles forty-five contemporary artists whose approach to scale  is integral to their art practice.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe global art compass / Alistair Hicks.
“Crosscurrents in the art world are flowing in every direction around the planet. Hicks provides a series of essays about developments in the contemporary art scene  organized geographically by continent. This includes extracts from interviews with artists from such diverse locales as Peru, Albania, and India.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverUnder Spring: Voices + Art + Los Angeles
“This is the story of  the transformation of the seedy no mans land of  Los Angeles’s North Spring Street bridge from into a vibrant community hub. Between 2006 and 2013, artist Lauren Bon and her Metabolic Studio team transformed the underpass into a creative space that now serves as a public square, ceremonial ground, art gallery, community garden, and musical instrument. Melding stories from artists, scholars, laborers, graffiti artists, urban planners, activists, gang members this book gives an account of the underpass’s many metamorphoses.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverDegenerate art : the fate of the avant-garde in Nazi Germany / edited by! Stephanie Barron ; with contributions by Peter Guenther … et al.!.
“This reconstruction of the infamous Nazi exhibition of officially proscribed or degenerate art in 1937 is revealing for the issues of aesthetic taste and artistic censorship it raises and explores. The curators of the current exhibition have reassembled much of the surviving artwork that the German government found so objectionable and in certain instances have reinstalled the pieces in settings identical to their original display. This combination of art and politics is potent and revealing with startling contemporary relevance.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

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 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)