Cats, Dogs, Teabowls and Other Things That Influence Artists

Influence and inspiration, are fickle topics to understand even to the best of us, but perhaps none more so than the artistic community. The stories behind art and the artists who created them, what inspires artists and who they inspire in turn, are some of the greatest hidden stories of our time. So in our most recent picks we invite you to look closer at art, at muses, at what inspires, what what influences, and yes, at cats, dogs and Teabowls.

Syndetics book coverCats in art / Desmond Morris.
“The cat, that most graceful, stubborn, and agile of animals,has been a favorite subject of artists the world over from prehistory to the modern day.In his latest book, Desmond Morris tells the compelling story of cats in art. He explores feline art in its many forms, tracing its history from ancient rock paintings to the depiction of cats in cartoons. The result is a beautifully illustrated book that will delight anyone with a Kitty, Max, or Tigger in their life.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA dog a day / Sally Muir.
“It all began with a Facebook post in 2013: ‘My name is Sally Muir and this is a new gallery where I will add a dog drawing/painting every day, adding up to a massive 365 day dogfest.’ As the page grew in popularity, so did Sally’s dog portraits, leading to commissions, exhibitions at prominent galleries, and events. Drawing on artworks from the site, A Dog A Day is a lovingly curated collection and celebration of dogs, perfect for all dog lovers.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe teabowl : East & West / Bonnie Kemske.
“Revered for its associations of its past and its connotations of sophistication and simplicity, the teabowl enjoys an elevated status. Here Bonnie Kemske looks at the form as a whole, considering the history and ideas behind the original tea ceremony, how it moved into contemporary ceramics, and the way it is used today. This book is wide in scope, thorough in detail, and essential reading for anyone involved in making or using these tactile objects.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInside the Freud Museums : history, memory and site-responsive art / Joanne Morra. “Sigmund Freud spent the final year of his life in London, surrounded by all his possessions, in exile from the Nazis. The long-term home and workspace he left behind in Vienna became a seemingly empty space. Now museums, both of these spaces resonate powerfully. Taking us on a journey through the ‘site-responsive’ artworks, Joanne Morra offers a fresh experience of the history and practice of psychoanalysis, of museums and contemporary art.” (AdaptedSyndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe long dream of waking : new perspectives on Len Lye / edited by Paul Brobbel, Wystan Curnow and Roger Horrocks. “Recognized internationally as one of the twentieth century’s great modernist innovators, New Zealand artist Len Lye is most famous for his avant-garde experimental films and for his astonishing and playful kinetic sculptures.  In this collection of essays, writers from New Zealand and overseas consider Lye’s assured place in modern art from a variety of fascinating and thought-provoking angles. ” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe art of Lent : a painting a day from Ash Wednesday to Easter / Sister Wendy Beckett. This delightful book describes and interprets a series of paintings for each day of Lent. Artists often address subjects that our culture seeks to avoid, and Sister Wendy’s brilliant and perceptive reflections will help you to read these paintings with a more discerning eye and encounter deeper levels of spiritual meaning than may at first appear. (Amazon Summary)

Syndetics book coverGordon Walters : new vision / commissioning editor, Zara Stanhope ; curators, Lucy Hammonds, Laurence Simmons and Julia Waite ; managing editor, Clare McIntosh.
“One of New Zealand’s most influential artists, in a practice spanning 50 years, he explored the seemingly infinite potential of a limited set of geometric forms to create art of increasing refinement. Here we see the first complete picture of the artist’s extensive body of work, offering readers new perspectives on the evolution of Walters’ rigorous abstraction.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverModern art in detail : 75 masterpieces / Susie Hodge.
“Great works of art cannot be fully understood in a single encounter. Modern Art in Detail: 75 Masterpieces spotlights the finer points that even connoisseurs may miss. From the late 19th century to the modern day, it treats each piece on its own merits, but it also views each as part of a tradition, which sees artists pass a baton down through the ages. Moreover, it charts the shift from the supremacy of artistic technique to the dominance of the idea or concept behind the object created.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Art recent picks for June 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Art recent picks for June 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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