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

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 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 description)