Category: Recent picks

September Photography

This month two influential New Zealand photographers feature prominently in our selection. Laurence Aberhart and Ans Westra, household names in the world of photography, bring us two views of what once was and how things have changed. In stark contrast the works of fashion and celebrity photographers Brian Bowen Smith and the Markus & Indrani pair take us to a world of glamour and artifice, showing how photography has chameleon like qualities and is a tool that can depict very different facets of the world.  Historical and nature photography are not ignored either, nor the staple of instructional manuals.

Laurence AberhartLaurence Aberhart – Recent Taranaki Photographs
Published to accompany the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery exhibition of the same name, this fittingly understated yet gorgeous book contains the 30 new works comissioned for the exhibition, together with earlier photographs representing Taranaki and held by the gallery. A celebration of Aberhart, one of New Zealand’s most respected photographers, as much as the Taranaki region, and the special bond that connects them, this book is also a reflection on Aberhart’s relationship with and depiction of  some of New Zealand vanishing landscapes and landmarks.
Words that come to mind to describe Aberhart’s work range from quiet, contemplative, melancholy, timeless to austere. This quote from the artist “What inherently interests me is the transitional: the pieces in our landscape that were something once, aren’t that anymore, will be something different in the future, or may not exist. I’m interested in capturing them when they’re somewhat adrift”, is an apt description of his aesthetic and intellectual focus.
The book also includes insightful essays on Aberhart’s work and creative process. (Staff review; Image supplied by Govett-Brewster Art Gallery)

syndetics-lcNga tau ki muri = Our future
“The purpose of the book is to give a directive to the country, an awareness of things changed and lost within its short history. If we don’t plan for the long term and keep taking stop-gap measures, we leave very little behind. Instead of becoming like the rest of the world, this beautiful place should become a shining example of hope for survival in a newly balanced environment. ” Includes 137 Westra photographs of the New Zealand landscape, with text contributions from Hone Tuwhare, Russel Norman, Brian Turner, David Eggleton and David Lange. (Syndetics)

syndetics-lcBrian Bowen Smith – Projects
“Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, Brian Bowen Smith became a professional photographer by a less traditional route than most. While performing as a pro athlete, Bowen Smith happened to catch the eye of legendary photographer Herb Ritts, who invited him to appear in a Gap ad campaign. Ritts subsequently became his mentor and friend. Four years spent as Ritts’ assistant helped Bowen Smith to establish his photographic style, and assignments for W, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Self and Interview soon followed. Now living in Los Angeles, Bowen Smith has established himself as a veteran celebrity and beauty photographer, having worked with some of the best-known TV, music and movie stars of today (both up-and-coming and established), among them Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Warren Beatty, Orlando Bloom, Adrian Brody, Cindy Crawford, Sheryl Crow, Cat Deeley, Emily Deschanel, James Franco, Scott Glenn, Ethan Hawke, Demi Moore, Carolyn Murphy, Winona Ryder, Brooke Shields, Hillary Swank and Billy Bob Thornton, among many others. As this first monograph shows, many of these stars have gone on to become close friends. Projects spans the gamut of Bowen Smith’s work, from personal work to commissioned assignments done over the past ten years.”(From

syndetics-lcMarkus + Indrani – Icons
“Markus Klinko and Indrani–the hottest team in celebrity and fashion photography–have produced album covers for Beyonce, Mariah Carey, and David Bowie, and shot everyone from Lady Gaga to Kate Winslet, Jay-Z, Lindsay Lohan, and Naomi Campbell. As former stars of the Bravo series Double Exposure and in past lives as a recording artist and top model, respectively, Markus and Indrani have spent most of their lives in front of the cameras, giving them a unique perspective on the realities and fantasies of their celebrated subjects. The result is a collection of powerful, definitive, iconic images of some of the most engaging stars of our time. As cutting edge as ever seventeen years into their career, with Icons Markus and Indrani showcase their work for the first time in book form. The text, based on interviews with the photographers and many of the stars they’ve shot, describes the uniquely fascinating professional partnership of the former lovers, how they work, and tells stories about the famed subjects of their photography–at turns funny, fascinating, and endearing. Filled with more than 250 full-color photographs in crisp detail, Icons is an engrossing showcase of the hottest stars of our day in all their glamorous, glossy, and dynamic perfection. It’s a dream package for legions of celebrity followers and photography enthusiasts.” (Syndetics)

syndetics-lcShort nights of the Shadow Catcher : the epic life and immortal photographs of Edward Curtis
“Edward Curtis was dashing, charismatic, a passionate mountaineer, a famous photographer–the Annie Liebowitz of his time. And he was thirty-two years old in 1900 when he gave it all up to pursue his great idea: He would try to capture on film the Native American nation before it disappeared. At once an incredible adventure narrative and a penetrating biographical portrait, Egan’s book tells the remarkable untold story behind Curtis’s iconic photographs, following him throughout Indian country from desert to rainforest as he struggled to document the stories and rituals of more than eighty tribes. Even with the backing of Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, it took tremendous perseverance–six years alone to convince the Hopi to allow him into their Snake Dance ceremony. The undertaking changed him profoundly, from detached observer to outraged advocate. He would die penniless and unknown in Hollywood just a few years after publishing the last of his twenty volumes. But the charming rogue with the grade-school education had fulfilled his promise–his great adventure succeeded in creating one of America’s most stunning cultural achievements.” (Syndetics)

syndetics-lcDesert Air
“Hyper Arid is the first comprehensive photographic book on all of the world’s extreme deserts (defined for the purposes of this book as those that receive no more than 4 inches of precipitation per year), the most remote and inhospitable places on earth. It is also a visual adventure story by one of the world’s top expedition photographers who has spent the last 15 years on this epic body of work. The stunning and surreally beautiful photographs are enriched with stories from his adventures in the world’s most difficult places: smuggling his aircraft into Libya, getting arrested for spying in Iran, crashing into a tree in Western China, and into the ocean off the coast of Mexico. The book is a comprehensive exploration of virtually every dune field and patch of barren ground that add up to the last great class of wilderness left on our planet. To visualize these remote places in a unique way, Steinmetz learned how to fly the world’s lightest and slowest aircraft, a motorized paraglider. This experimental foot-launched aircraft consists of a backpack motor and a parachute-style wing that lets him fly low, and slow, to take pictures of places that have never been seen before. Together, these extraordinary places are like a disparate family of co-evolved landscapes, each similar, but uniquely beautiful” (Syndetics)

Blogging for photographers
“The days of fame through word-of mouth are gone. In order to be successful and seen, you need to be online and you need a blog. This book is for photographers—whether enthusiasts or established professionals—who want to show their photography to the world. Jolie O’Dell, blogging guru, teaches all the necessary skills required to set up and maintain a successful blog about photography, from the technical side of things to writing intriguing, appealing posts.” (from

syndetics-lcDirection & quality of light : your key to better portrait photography anywhere
“Learn how to: determine the optimal subject position for natural light portraits; position hard light sources and soft light sources; choose light modifiers to adjust the light quality; adjust the distance and position of the main, fill, hair, and background lights for refined results; combine ambient light and flash for seamless, natural looking results; use on- and off-camera bounce flash to produce big results with small light sources; balance the light levels on the subject and the background for more effective portrait designs; mimic the beauty of window light with flash; get amazing results with video lights; gel your lights for flawless color balance or creative color effects; produce beautifully lit portraits in less-than-ideal situations.” (Syndetics)

syndetics-lc Sports Photography: from snapshots to great shots
“Starting with the basics of equipment, camera settings, and exposure, Bill covers the fundamental techniques of sports photography–understanding lighting, handling composition and focus, and timing peak action. He explains how to choose a shooting position on the field of play, identify the defining moments away from the action, and learn the etiquette of covering live sporting events. He then breaks down the shooting processes of specific sports, outlining the challenges and demands of each and showing how to isolate individual athletes in action.” (Book cover)

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 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 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” ( 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 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 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 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)

Photography – mostly, black & white and subdued. Some garish elements allowed.

In this month’s picks the contemporary collections seem at times to borrow from the historical in their style and choice of topic. A photographic depiction of la dolce vita brings some colour, lightness and frivolity to an otherwise mostly monochromatic selection. A how-to-do manual also delves into early printmaking processes, showing readers how to create modern-day versions of pre-digital style prints.

syndetics-lcMan Ray – Portraits
“The artist May Ray (1890–1976) initially taught himself photography in order to reproduce his own works of art, but it became one of his preferred mediums. As a contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements in Paris during the 1920s, Man Ray was perfectly placed to make defining images of his avant-garde contemporaries, including Jean Cocteau, Peggy Guggenheim, and Gertrude Stein. Man Ray also photographed his friends and lovers, among them Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin), Lee Miller, who helped him discover the solarization printing process, and Ady Fidelin. Man Ray continued to take portrait photographs throughout his career, including little-known images from 1940s Hollywood, and of stars such as Ava Gardner and Catherine Deneuve taken during the 1950s and 1960s.
An essential reference on Man Ray’s life and work, this book includes an introduction by Terence Pepper and essay by Marina Warner exploring the artist’s creativity and appetite for innovation and experimentation. Complete with first-hand testimonies from the artist’s sitters and over 200 beautifully reproduced images, this handsome volume provides a survey of the finest portraits from one of the most inventive photographic artists of the 20th century.” (book cover)

syndetics-lcThe Evening Hours
“Ben Cauchi’s photographs seem to arrive from another time and place, yet are thoroughly of the present. His use of the mid-nineteenth-century wet collodion photographic process is a means to question and undermine the certainties that we continue to invest in the photographic image. Cauchi’s is a subtractive practice, dwelling on absence, lulls, the uncertain, the opaque, and the fleeting elements of life. His shadowy images fixed on metal and glass explore the psychological dimensions of viewing and the nature of photography itself by continually moving within and expanding the grey areas between truth and untruth, presence and absence, the empirical and the incorporeal, seeing and believing. The Evening Hours brings together new writing on Cauchi’s practice with reproductions of over eighty of his photographs. The artist has played an active role in this process, returning to his own archive just as he trawls through photographic histories to select, re-present and sequence a decade of work. Ben Cauchi was born in 1974 in Auckland, New Zealand. He became interested in photography in 1997 and has exhibited regularly since 2000. His work is included in every major public collection in New Zealand, as well as in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Australia. In 2007 he was awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago, Dunedin. Cauchi was an Arts Foundation of New Zealand New Generation Award recipient in 2011 and in the following year was awarded the 2012 Creative New Zealand Berlin Visual Artists Residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. This is his first monograph.”  (Syndetics)

syndetics-lcIt’s true that it’s been a long time since I thought about turtles.
Published to document the large-scale retrospective of major works by Roni Horn at the Sammlung Goetz in Munich showing until 31 August 2013, this catalogue does not seek  to prescribe a linear narrative but offers a variety of situations, locations, and positions from which to experience and see the works according to many different viewpoints, moods, and attitudes. The various essays are intended to foster and strengthen what the exhibition itself provokes: taking a stance and seeing the work of Roni Horn from ever changing standpoints as one of the outstanding bodies of work in contemporary art, encompassing sculpture, drawing, photography, language, and installation. (Adapted from publisher)

syndetics-lcSlim Aarons, la dolce vita ” It was in post-war Rome that Slim Aarons realized his professional mission in ilfe: to photograph, in his famous phrase, “attractive people who were doing attractive things in attractive places.” The photographer had survived World War II, witnessing the fall of Tobruk, the Anzio invasion and the liberation of Rome, and had come away from it with a distinct aversion to war, a career as a photojournalist, and a passion for Italy. After leaving the army for a brief stint in Hollywood, he relocated to Rome when Life magazine opened a bureau there. In these luminous 1940s, when Rome and the rest of the world were coming back to life, Slim Aarons discovered his great subject: the cavalcade of high society and aristocracy and celebrity – and the settings where this special class of people displayed themselves to best effect. The beautiful people who flocked to Rome in those years would become Slim Aarons’ principal subjects for the next fifty years. Tracing a journey from the 1940s to the 1990s, this lavish fourth volume paints the cultural geography of fifty years in Italy and distills one photographer’s vision of la dolce vita.” (Adapted from book cover)

syndetics-lcDennis Hopper – The Lost Album
“Lying hidden away in Dennis Hopper’s home until their discovery months after the artist’s death in 2010, this collection of spectacular photographs, exhibited only once in 1969-70 at the Fort Worth Art Center Museum, is a testament to Hopper’s prolific and enormous talent behind the camera. These photographs are spontaneous, intimate, poetic, observant, and decidedly political. While some are portraits of figures within Hopper’s circle of actor, artist, musician, and poet friends – including Jane Fonda, Paul Newman, and Robert Rauschenberg – they also include images from his extensive travels in Los Angeles, New York, London, Mexico, and Peru. Hopper’s abiding support of the Civil Rights movement and social justice is evident in his shots from the march on Selma and Harlem street scenes. In images of beauty and stillness he transfers Abstract Expressionism into the artistic language of photography. Throughout this stunning volume Hopper’s sensitive, keenly observant eye shines through, making it clear that he was a deeply committed chronicler of the events that were unfolding around him.” (From

syndetics-lcPhotography and the american civil war
“Six hundred thousand lives were lost between 1861 and 1865, making the conflict between North and South the nation’s deadliest war. If the “War Between the States” was the test of the young republic’s commitment to its founding precepts, it was also a watershed in photographic history, as the camera recorded the epic, heartbreaking narrative from beginning to end – providing those on the home front, for the first time, with immediate visual access to the horrors of the battlefield.
Photography and the American Civil War features both familiar and rarely seen images that include haunting battlefield landscapes strewn with bodies, studio portraits of armed Confederate and Union soldiers (sometimes in the same family) preparing to meet their destiny, rare multi-panel panoramas of Gettysburg and Richmond, languorous camp scenes showing exhausted troops in repose, diagnostic medical studies of wounded soldiers who survived the war’s last bloody battles, and portraits of both Abraham Lincoln and his assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Published on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg (1863), this beautifully produced book features Civil War photographs by George Barnard, Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, Timothy O’Sullivan, and many others.” (book cover)

syndetics-lcThe New Art of photographing nature
“A new spin on the classic guide to composing stunning images of nature and wildlife
What is the difference between a good picture and a great one? In this fully revised edition of the classic bestseller The Art of Photographing Nature, master photographer Art Wolfe and former Audubon photo editor Martha Hill team up to explain the art of composing images of enduring beauty. Against a backdrop of more than 250 photographs of nature, wildlife, and landscapes, they share insights and advice about what works and what doesn’t, and how small changes can take an image from ordinary to extraordinary. Throughout, all-new tips from digital imaging expert Tim Grey show readers how to make the most of digital technology, whether by choosing the right color space, understanding sensor size, or removing distracting elements in post-processing. The result is an invaluable collection of expert advice updated for the modern age.” (From

syndetics-lcThe Last Layer
“In The Last Layer, the follow-up to Digital Alchemy, her successful book on alternative printmaking techniques, Bonny Lhotka teaches how to make prints that take their inspiration from early printmaking processes. In this book, Lhotka shows readers step-by-step how to create modern-day versions of anthotypes, cyanotypes, tintypes, and daguerreotypes as well as platinum and carbon prints. She also reinvents the photogravure and Polaroid transfer processes and explores and explains groundbreaking techniques for combining digital images with traditional monotype, collograph, and etching press prints. By applying these classic techniques to modern images, readers will be able to recreate the look of historical printmaking techniques and explore the limits of their creative voice. Best of all, the only equipment required is a desktop inkjet printer that uses pigment inks, and a handful of readily available materials and supplies–not the toxic chemicals once required to perform these very same processes.
Leveraging her training as a traditional painter and printmaker, Bonny Lhotka brings new innovations and inventions that combine the best of centuries of printmaking technique with modern technology to create unique works of art and photography. After years of experimentation and development, these new processes allow alternative photographers, traditional printer makers, and 21st century digital artists to express their creative voice in ways never before possible.” (From

Art recent picks May 2013

From the street to surrealism: an eclectic selection of amazing new art books for May 2013.

Syndetics book coverNew street art / Claude Crommelin (ClaudeLondon).
“Street art is part of every cityscape. By street art, we mean the crazy and wonderful stencils, paste-ups, paintings and little sculptures that decorate our urban landscape, catching our eyes and surprising us with their beauty, humour or pithy comment on society. It is, however, ephemeral and the work can disappear very quickly or be damaged by the elements or vandalism. Through his website, ClaudeLondon has documented thousands of works by artists active in the city.” (adapted from description)

Syndetics book coverDrawing Surrealism / Leslie Jones ; with contributions by Isabelle Dervaux, Susan Laxton.
“An exhibition catalogue for a show at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art and the Morgan Library and Museum, this volume features a text by LACMA curator Jones and two accompanying essays by Dervaux and Laxton. The publisher describes it as the “first large-scale loan exhibition to focus on drawing as a prevailing form of expression for surrealist artists.” …” (CHOICE) (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe books that shaped art history : from Gombrich and Greenberg to Alpers and Krauss / edited by Richard Shone and John-Paul Stonard.
“Written by some of today’s leading art historians and curators, this new collection provides an invaluable road map of the field by comparing and reexamining canonical works of art history. From Émile Mâle’s magisterial study of thirteenth-century French art, first published in 1898, to Hans Belting’s provocative Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art, the book provides a concise and insightful overview of the history of art, told through its most enduring literature …” (adapted from description)

Syndetics book coverChagall : modern master / Simonetta Fraquelli ; with contributions by Angela Lampe … [et al.].
“Though his paintings of Russian village life, floating figures, flying cows, and roosters are instantly familiar, Marc Chagall (1887–1985) remains one of the least understood artists of his generation. Bringing together more than 60 paintings and a selection of works on paper, this lavishly illustrated book focuses on the artist’s time in Paris before World War I, his visit to Berlin and his exhibition there in 1914, and the years he spent in his native Russia around the time of the Revolution in 1917, all experiences that reinforced his highly personal visual language.” (adapted from description)

Syndetics book coverTreasuring the gaze : intimate vision in late eighteenth-century eye miniatures / Hanneke Grootenboer.
“The end of the eighteenth century saw the start of a new craze in Europe: tiny portraits of single eyes that were exchanged by lovers or family members. Worn as brooches or pendants, these minuscule eyes served the same emotional need as more conventional mementoes, such as lockets containing a coil of a loved one’s hair. The fashion lasted only a few decades, and by the early 1800s eye miniatures had faded into oblivion. Unearthing these portraits in Treasuring the Gaze, Hanneke Grootenboer proposes that the rage for eye miniatures—and their abrupt disappearance—reveals a knot in the unfolding of the history of vision…” (adapted from description)

Syndetics book coverWhat was contemporary art? / Richard Meyer.
“Contemporary art in the early twenty-first century is often discussed as though it were a radically new phenomenon unmoored from history. Yet all works of art were once contemporary to the artist and culture that produced them. In What Was Contemporary Art? Richard Meyer reclaims the contemporary from historical amnesia, exploring episodes in the study, exhibition, and reception of early twentieth-century art and visual culture…” (adapted from description)

Art recent picks April 2013

Autumn art books, April 2013 : new glossy and gorgeous ones to grace your coffee table:-

Syndetics book coverFlorence at the dawn of the Renaissance : painting and illumination, 1300-1350 / edited by Christine Sciacca.
“Florence and the Renaissance have become virtually synonymous, bringing to mind names like Dante, Giotto, Petrarch, Boccaccio, and many others whose creativity thrived during a time of unprecedented prosperity, urban expansion, and intellectual innovation. With more than 200 illustrations, Florence at the Dawn of the Renaissance reveals the full complexity and enduring beauty of the art of this period, including panel paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and stained glass panels. The book considers not only the work of Giotto and other influential artists, including Bernardo Daddi, Taddeo Gaddi, and Pacino di Bonaguida, but also that of the larger community of illuminators and panel painters who collectively contributed to Florence’s artistic legacy… ” (abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLate Raphael / edited by Tom Henry and Paul Joannides.
“From 1513 until his death in 1520, Raphael experienced an intense period of activity, producing a rich variety of work, from the frescoes for the Vatican Stanze to the series of tapestries on the Acts of the Apostles. Published to accompany an exhibition of 90 works at the Museo del Prado, the book’s contributors examine the great variety of the work of Raphael and his two most important pupils, Giulio Romano and Gianfrancesco Penni… (abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMidnight to the boom : painting in India after independence : from the Peabody Essex Museum’s Herwitz Collection / Susan S. Bean ; with Homi K. Bhabha … [et al.].
“At midnight on August 15, 1947, India declared its independence from British rule. India’s anticolonial movement-synonymous with Mohandas Gandhi, peaceful resistance, and civil disobedience-is celebrated here, but the book also reveals the movement’s dark side, namely, the coinciding partition into India and Pakistan, remembered for its violent riots and upwards of a million deaths. Editor Bean (curator, South Asian & Korean art, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA) explores how these transformative moments brought political, social, and economic change to India and Indian artists, particularly painters, who responded by experimenting with content, style, and new artistic techniques… (abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMurakami : ego.
“A comprehensive volume overseen by the artist himself on one of the most renowned living artists today, Takashi Murakami. Takashi Murakami is celebrated the world over for his deft blurring of high and low art. In this volume, accompanying a major exhibition of his work and the first in the Middle East, readers are immersed in the unique way Murakami channels the ecstasy and anxiety of contemporary culture.Conceived by the artist as a self-portrait in the guise of a cartoon, Murakami Ego illuminates the role of the artist as a cipher and critic of pop phenomena as well as a mirror of global networks of consumerism, interpretation, and exchange…” (adapted from description)

Syndetics book coverAnimation sketchbooks / Laura Heit.
“”Animation Sketchbooks” presents the private notebooks, sketches and doodles of over 50 of the worlds most inventive, innovative and admired contemporary animators. From left-field satire to hit childrens TV series, from short animations for websites to full-scale, internationally distributed films, a wide array of creative work is represented in depth in this fascinating volume. (from description)

Syndetics book coverPush print : 30+ artists explore the boundaries of printmaking / curated by Cranky Pressman, Jamie & Keith Berger.
“PUSH Print” is a visual feast that will inspire anyone interested in art, intriguing personalities and innovative ideas. You can survey the work of 30+ contemporary printmakers – from world-renowned names to exciting up-and-comers – each with their own take on letterpress, screen printing, woodcutting, lithography and etching, as well as multimedia and digital approaches to print. Featuring a vibrant Q & A section with the Cranky Pressman jurors, plus sumptuous full-colour images of the artists’ work, this gorgeous volume is a fascinating survey on printmaking today. (Syndetics summary)


This month is particularly biased on history, from personal histories of less known observers’ world views, to histories of some of the political royalties of last century. This review wraps up with two self-proclaimed time-saving guides that will keep you au-fait with the latest technologies available to today’s amateur photographer.

syndetics-lcVivian Maier out of the shadows 
After spending her life in the shadows of anonymity, her body of work reaching over one hundred thousand pictures, remaining in locked cabinets, garages and basements, Vivian was luckily discovered after her death and finally her photographs were brought to the light they deserve. As one of her former employers remembers, although she was marvellous with the children, “she wasn’t interested in being a nanny at all. She really wanted to be out on the street. She wanted to be taking pictures”. She worked to support her art. This book combines a powerful selection of her work, in a compact square format that reflects her choice of medium format cameras, mainly a Rolleiflex, with compelling stories from those who met her, acting as a posthumous memoir of this discreet human being.  
Mary Ellen Mark, herself revered for the humanity of her documentary photography says of Vivian Maier ”She was a humanist in the best tradition. She showed real life. And that’s so difficult to do.” A resounding accolade no less.

indexCADLIFPSFrom Prague to Auckland
“Published on the occasion of the exhibition From Prague to Auckland: the photography of Frank Hofmann (1916-1989) curated by Leonard Bell at the Gus Fisher Gallery, The University of Auckland, New Zealand, 26 August – 29 October 2011″–Colophon.(courtesy of Syndetics)

syndetics-lcHer Majesty
“The extraordinary public and private life of the world’s most famous monarch -
In honor of theQueen’s Diamond Jubilee—60 years on the throne—TASCHEN celebrates the extraordinary private and public life of Her Majesty. Born in 1926, married in 1947, crowned as Queen in 1953,for over six decades she has steadfastly and loyally carried out her duty on behalf of her country, never speaking out of turn or putting a foot wrong. The book tells her remarkable royal story through hundreds of stunning photographs, many previously unseen and sourced from multiple archives in the United Kingdom (including the Royal Collection), Continental Europe, and the United States.These images have it all: history, politics, glamour, fashion, culture, travel, and, of course, hats.
As the Queen, she has endlessly traveled the globe, been introduced to every leading icon of the 20th century, including the Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, and JFK, attended thousands of receptions and state functions; while concurrently being a mother to four children under the constant glare of public scrutiny.These photographs cover every aspect of her reign: the early years, coming of age during World War II, becoming a wife, Queen and mother, the Royal Tours, the palaces, the crowds, the weddings, the Royal Family, the Silver Jubilee in 1977, and the later years. God save her indeed!
Photographers included:Cecil Beaton, Studio Lisa, Dorothy Wilding, Karsh, Lord Snowdon, Patrick Lichfield, as well as more contemporary work from the likes ofWolfgang Tillmans, Rankin, Annie Leibovitz,and many others.” (Syndetics summary)

syndetics-lcTwilight of the Romanovs – A Photographic Odyssey Across Imperial Russia
“Twilight of the Romanovs opens a door into the world of pre-revolutionary Russia using original photographs taken during the last decades of Romanov rule. They include remarkable colour images created using an early three-colour-plate technique that brings the remote past to life. Our companions on this journey include the Scottish photographer William Carrick, Americans George Kennan and Murray Howe, the German-Russian Carl Bulla, Sergey Produkin-Gorsky, and the writers Leonid Andreyev and Anton Chekhov, together with many anonymous others.
These photographs are snapshots of a vanished world, yet they reveal a surprising continuity: despite the subsequent revolution, faces, buildings, and landscapes still resonate with those who see them a century and more later.” (From publisher)

syndetics-lc The Kennedys
“This publication is the definitive collection of Mark Shaw’s renowned photographs of the Kennedys. Photographys includ Kennedy’s favourite ever shot of himself, walking alone on the dunes at Hyannis Port, plus images on the campaign trail, relaxing at home with friends, entertaining at the White House, and the sombre days immediately following JFK’s assassination.” (Syndetics summary)
A personal favourite in this collection is the photograph of John and Jackie shot in November 1963, shortly before the fateful day. It struck a chord with Jackie herself whose letter to Shaw thanking him for the artful accompanies the print. “John looks like a Caravaggio — and, the one of John, reflected in the table, like some wonderful, strange, poetic Matisse.”

syndetics-lcThe Photoshop Elements 11
“This book (for Windows and Mac) breaks new ground by doing something for digital photographers that’s never been done before–it cuts through the bull and shows exactly “how to do it.” It’s not a bunch of theory; it doesn’t challenge readers to come up with their own settings or figure things out on their own. Instead, it tells readers flat-out which settings to use, when to use them, and why. This book gives the inside tips and tricks of the trade for organizing, correcting, editing, sharpening, retouching, and presenting photos like a pro. Readers will be absolutely amazed at how easy and effective these techniques are–once they know the secrets. “(From publisher)

syndetics-lcThe Quick Expert’s Guide to Mobile Phone Photography
“This series offers a shortcut to instant expertise! Quick Expert’s Guides are aimed at teens and ‘tweens who are keen to know more about a popular topic but who may be put off the idea of having to read wordy or technical guides. Each title includes features that break down technical/scientific/complex aspects of the subject, inspirational case studies, activities and a final project to test the reader’s new skills. Chapter round-ups also offer tips on key words and phrases as well as boosting self esteem and confidence, in order to walk the walk and talk the talk of a true expert.” (from

Recent art picks March 2013

Fabulous art books for autumn reading : including a very large and beautiful new book on Klimt:-

Syndetics book coverManet : portraying life.
“Depicting the Paris of his day, Edouard Manet (1832-1883) captured the nineteenth-century urban experience, legitimizing ‘modern life’ as an artistic subject. His detached, frank mode of looking and his subversive handling of both paint and subject-matter shocked his contemporaries, and eventually established his reputation as the father of modern painting. This remarkable book explores Manet’s portraiture, a significant yet often neglected aspect of his work, including examples from throughout his career…”–P. [2] of cover.

Syndetics book coverGustav Klimt : the complete paintings / Tobias G. Natter (ed.) ; directed and produced by Benedikt Taschen.
“[This] publication … places particular emphasis upon the voices of Klimt’s contemporaries via a series of essays examining reactions to his work throughout his career. Subjects range from Klimt’s portrayal of women to his adoption of landscape painting in the second half of his life. The cliché that Gustav Klimt was a man of few words who rarely put pen to paper is vehemently dispelled: no less than 231 letters, cards, writings and other documents—all known Klimt correspondence—are included in this monograph. This wealth of archival material, assembled here for the first time on such a scale, represents a major contribution to Klimt scholarship” (adapted from description)

Syndetics book coverInventing abstraction, 1910-1925 : how a radical idea changed modern art / [organized by] Leah Dickerman ; with contributions by Matthew Affron … [et al.].
“In 1912, in several European cities, a handful of artists–Vasily Kandinsky, Frantisek Kupka, Francis Picabia and Robert Delaunay–presented the first abstract pictures to the public. Inventing Abstraction, published to accompany an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, celebrates the centennial of this bold new type of artwork. It traces the development of abstraction as it moved through a network of modern artists, from Marsden Hartley and Marcel Duchamp to Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich, sweeping across nations and across media…” (adapted from description)

Syndetics book coverAn illustrated journey : inspiration from the private art journals of traveling artists, illustrators and designers / Danny Gregory.
Collects excerpts from the personal travel journal sketchbooks of forty-three artists, illustrators, and designers.

Syndetics book coverLiving with art / Mark Getlein.
“Living with Art’s approach to art appreciation supports students’ acquisition of the essential skills of the course. Mark Getlein’s vivid narrative, in concert with McGraw-Hill’s powerful adaptive learning program LearnSmart within CONNECT Art, helps students understand, analyze, and appreciate the ways art work communicates to us in our visual world. In doing so, Living with Art provides the foundation for a life-long appreciation of art, as well as critical thinking skills that will benefit students far beyond the classroom into their chosen careers” (adapted from description)

Syndetics book coverM to M of M/M (Paris) / Emily King.
A 528-page monograph presenting for the first time twenty years of works by M/M (Paris), one of the most emblematic and influential design practices and art partnerships of the twenty-first century… Published to mark their twentieth anniversary, this is the definitive monograph. It records hundreds of their mind-blowing projects, each represented in illustrations and photographs and arranged alphabetically from ‘M’ to ‘M’.
(abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe progress of love / edited by Kristina van Dyke, Bisi Silva ; with contributions by Elias K. Bongmba, Francesca Consagra, Banning Eyre.
“Published in concert with a collaborative project between the Menil Collection in Houston, Lagos’s Centre for Contemporary Arts, and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis, Mo., this beautifully designed book gathers the work of 30 artists from Africa and the African diaspora to examine the virtues, complexities, and challenges of love. Accompanying essays discuss the difficulty of talking about love in a translational context, the effect of globalization on local identity and custom, the importance of performance in African culture, and the way artists address loss, romantic or otherwise…” (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)

Art recent picks for February 2013

From Impressionism (and fashion) to Damien Hirst : new art books for February 2013:-

Syndetics book coverArt of the 20th century / Ruhrberg … [et al.] ; edited by Ingo F. Walther.
“The quintessential roundup of art from 1900-2000.
Who could possibly have forecast on New Year’s Eve 1899 that, one hundred years later, painting and sculpture would be only options, not prerequisites? The term “art” has been defined and redefined so many times over the last 100 years that it has gained entirely new social, political, and technological meanings. Ranging across the full spectrum of disciplines available, including photography and new media, and thematically chaptered to highlight relationships between works and movements, this readable and encyclopaedic masterwork does just what it says on the cover. Whether you want Surrealism or Land Art, Fluxus or Bauhaus, this is your be-all, end-all guide to art of the 20th century. An undertaking as immensely ambitious as this one deserves to be owned by everyone.” (adapted from description)

Syndetics book coverDamien Hirst / edited by Ann Gallagher ; with contributions by Ann Gallagher … [et al.].
“Born in Bristol in the UK in 1965, Damien Hirst is one of the most controversial and highly regarded artists of his generation. This illustrated survey is a fitting tribute to Hirst’s ground-breaking achievements”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverImpressionism, fashion & modernity / edited by Gloria Groom, with contributions by Heidi Brevik-Zender … [et al.].
“This volume is the first to explore fashion as a critical aspect of modernity, one that paralleled and many times converged with the development of Impressionism, starting in the 1860s and continuing through the next two decades, when fashion attracted the foremost writers and artists of the day. Although fashionable subjects have been depicted throughout history, for many artists and writers, including Charles Baudelaire, Sté́phane Mallarmé, Émile Zola, Gustave Caillebotte, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, fashion became integral to the search for new literary and visual expression.”–Book jacket. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSalvador Dalí : the making of an artist / Catherine Grenier ; [translated from the French by David Radzinowicz].
“This extensive volume uncovers Dali’s influences, artistic development, and legacy, offering unprecedented access inside the world of the man behind the mustache. Through astute analysis of Dali’s work and how the events of his time converged with his drive to become a legend, this volume examines one of the most significant contributors to twentieth-century art… The author offers insight into this undisputed genius, charting Dali’s progression as an artist and controversial public figure, and demonstrating his influence on contemporary artists such as Warhol, Koons, and Murakami.” (adapted from description)

Syndetics book coverAppetite for design: eat me : product. packaging. art. branding. interior / edited & produced by viction:workshop ltd..
“In addition to the highly competitive realm of food packaging design, the book also features a symphony of recent art creations, social events, identity projects, restaurant designs, culinary implements and products inspired by food. The substantial showcase is complemented by fascinating insights in their forewords and case studies given by experts, entrepreneurs and practitioners, each distinct with regards to their experience in product, packaging, image-making, branding and spatial design”–Publisher’s web site.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverColour : a workshop for artists and designers / David Hornung.
“This book demystifies its subject for professionals and students alike. It inspires confidence in colour’s application to graphic design, illustration, painting, textile art, and textile design. In addition to covering the fundamentals of colour theory, the author provides assignments that guide the student through a variety of colour experiences, moving logically from basic structural concepts to experiments with colour applications. Concepts and terminology are always linked with supporting visuals. The book is generously illustrated with examples drawn from the rich, multicultural history of art and design. Colour charts and studies, created by students themselves, round out the range of illustrations. The book also includes an extensive, fully illustrated glossary of colour terms…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Art recent picks for Jan 2013

Six new books on six very different painters : Jan 2013′s picks for summer art reading:-

Syndetics book coverJohn Everett Millais / Jason Rosenfeld.
“John Everett Millais (1829 – 1896) was one of the most significant English painters of the nineteenth century, successful and respected during his career, honoured as the first painter to be created a baronet, he remains, as recent exhibitions of his work have demonstrated, equally well known today. Whilst his substantial contributions are rarely, if ever, denied, in past art historical accounts of Millais’s long career there has been an unfortunate tendency to superficially distinguish between the early promise of his Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces and the perceived commercial and traditionalist orientation of his later works. In this new study of the artist’s life and work Rosenfeld argues that such readings are far from accurate, demonstrating that the development of Millais’s art was at the forefront of contemporary painting throughout his life. … In Rosenfeld’s words, it is a ‘consistently relevant and inventive Millais’ that emerges in this book” (adapted from description)

Syndetics book coverKeith Vaughan / Philip Vann and Gerard Hastings.
Keith Vaughan (1912-77) was a major figure in post-war British art who is known for his searching portraits of the male nude and his association with the Neo-Romantic painters. This book provides for the first time a definitive, illustrated account of his life and work, exploring his wide-ranging achievement as a modern British artist. … A fascinating essay by Gerard Hastings provides a close-up examination of Vaughan’s gouache technique. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMark Rothko : the decisive decade, 1940-1950 / Bradford R. Collins, editor ; [essays by] David Anfam … [et al.].
“The first publication dedicated exclusively to Mark Rothko’s art during the critical formative period of the 1940s. Examining the development and artistic exploration of one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, this unprecedented volume presents the works of American artist Mark Rothko from the 1940s, a time when his most essential development as a painter occurred, dramatically and in a very compact space of time. During this period, Rothko moved from expressive figurative and surrealist canvases to more abstract multiform subjects and finally to his signature abstractions–luminous rectangles of color suspended in space.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMaster of stillness : Jeffrey Smart : paintings 1940-2011 / Barry Pearce.
This book on the work of Jeffrey Smart is the first since his virtual retirement from painting in 2011. It illuminates the vision of the most celebrated of Australian expatriate artists, from his beginnings in Adelaide until his last major composition painted in Italy where he has lived for the last five decades. Adelaide, where Smart was born in 1921, was where his essential evolution as an artist took shape. His early fascination for its grid-like urban landscape was a perfect basis for an ongoing celebration of the phenomena of highways, traffic signs, trucks, transmitters and brutish modular architecture in post-war Europe; aspects of the modern world others found ugly but which he declared beautiful. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPaul Klee : life and work / text by Christine Hopfengart and Michael Baumgartner ; with contributions by Fabienne Eggelhöfer … [et al.].
“The many books on Paul Klee (1879-1940) published over the years should not obscure the fact that there has been no new, comprehensive Klee overview since Will Grohmann’s much reprinted 1954 monograph. With Paul Klee: Life and Work, the Zentrum Paul Klee has set out to fill this gap, drawing on a wealth of new resources including the Klee family’s archives, much of which is published here for the first time. …The result of many years of research and labor, this magisterial publication demonstrates conclusively why Klee numbers among the most influential and best loved artists of the past 100 years.” (adapted from description)

Syndetics book coverRaphael : a passionate life / Antonio Forcellino ; translated by Lucinda Byatt.
“In this carefully crafted biography of one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance, art historian Forcellino offers a vivid account of the artist’s ambitions and cogent explanations of the personal and political motivations of Raphael’s patrons, many of whom were from the Roman Curia. The author examines the career of Raphael, son of a painter from Urbino, who at 30 painted the papal apartments in the Vatican with scenes that were inspired by church policy; and who created the propagandistic portraits of Julius II and Leo X. Forcellino also endorses the legend of Raphael as a lover, interpreting the sensuality of Raphael’s paintings of beautiful women in light of historical accounts that Raphael died because of his romantic exploits. Nonetheless, despite his early death, Raphael developed a unique style of psychological portraiture and had significant insight into ancient building techniques.” (CHOICE) (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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