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 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 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 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 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 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)