Pioneers of art: 10 new books on artistic beginnings

For this selection of new art books we decided to take a look at beginnings, from prehistoric evidence of creativity and expression, to the early renaissance, right through to the more recent emergence of artistic collaboration or co-art. Whether it’s fashion illustration, the story of heritage paints and pigments, or learning to draw manga, you might find yourself beginning a new creative journey.

Syndetics book coverThe first artists : in search of the world’s oldest art / Michel Lorblanchet and Paul Bahn
“Where is the world’s very first art located? When, and why, did people begin experimenting with different materials, forms, and colors? Prehistorians have long been asking these questions, but only recently have they been able to piece together the first chapter in the story of art. This book is the first to assess the discovery, history, and significance of these varied forms of art.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCo-art : artists on creative collaboration / Ellen Mara De Wachter.
“Art history is traditionally presented as the individual’s struggle for self-expression, yet over the past fifty years, the number of artists working collaboratively has grown exponentially. Co-Art: Artists on Creative Collaboration, explores this phenomenon through conversations with twenty-five leading art-world pairs and groups, who offer insight that is relevant beyond the art world, making this book vital for all who seek to work creatively and effectively with others.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArtist’s drawing techniques / senior editor, Georgina Palffy.
“Try your hand at drawing and bring out your inner artist as you discover your own unique style. Create your own masterpieces with projects for both beginners and experienced artists. A practical guide to learning how to draw with pencils, charcoal, pens, and pastels, Artist’s Drawing Techniques helps you develop skills in every medium, perfect for the beginner picking up a new hobby or the experienced artist who wants to expand your horizons.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover100 years of fashion illustration / Cally Blackman.
“A visual feast of 400 dazzling images, a comprehensive survey of a genre over the last century and offering an overview of the development of fashion, as seen through the eyes of the greatest illustrators of the day. Early in the century, fashion illustration reflected new, liberating currents in art and culture, while the postwar period saw inspiration from the great Parisian couturiers. After the dominance of the celebrity fashion photographer in the 60s, a new generation of illustrators emerged, embracing the medium of the computer, while many returned to more traditional techniques.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe collector of lives : Giorgio Vasari and the invention of art / Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney.
“Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), an advisor to kings and pontiffs and a confidant to Titian, Donatello, and more, Vasari enjoyed an exhilarating career amid the thrilling culture of Italy. A narrative of intrigue, scandal, and colorful artistic rivalry, this vivid biography shows the great works of western art taking shape under Vasari’s keen eye–and reveals how one Renaissance scholar completely redefined how we look at art.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHokusai : beyond the great wave / edited by Timothy Clark.
“Publications have hitherto presented Hokusai’s long and illustrious career as a chronological sequence. This book takes a fresh approach based on innovative scholarship: thematic groupings of works are related to the major spiritual and artistic quests of Hokusai’s life. This collection of Hokusai’s works draws on the finest to be found in Japan and around the world, making this the most important publication for years on Hokusai, and a uniquely valuable overview of the artist’s late career.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to draw manga in simple steps / Yishan Li.
“Learn how to draw boys, girls and creatures (ordinary and extraordinary) in the manga style, using this fun and simple step-by-step book. Starting with basic shapes, professional comic artist Yishan Li shows how easy it is to turn circles, rectangles, squares and ovals into teens, kids, witches, wizards, monsters, animals and much more. If you have always wanted to draw manga, but weren’t sure how to begin, this book will help kick-start your comic-drawing journey. Even experienced artists will be inspired by Yishan’s impressive mix of figures and foes.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe anatomy of colour : the story of heritage paints and pigments / Patrick Baty.
The Anatomy of Colour is the definitive book on the use of colour and paint in interior decoration over a 300-year period. Drawing on his huge specialist archive, historian and paint expert Patrick Baty traces the evolution of pigments and paint colours together with colour systems and standards, and examines their impact on the colour palettes used in interiors from 1650 to 1960.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPipilotti Rist : Pixel Forest / edited by Massimiliano Gioni and Margot Norton.
“A pioneer of experimental video art, Pipilotti Rist is celebrated for her immersive, seductive works that bridge the spaces between fine art and entertainment. Through saturated colours, sensuous imagery, and playful eroticism, Rist’s art, which ranges from kaleidoscopic video environments to a chandelier of tie-dyed underwear, absorbs viewers in a hyperfeminine aesthetic at odds with deeper themes of pain and innocence.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTraces of Vermeer / Jane Jelley.
“Johannes Vermeer’s luminous paintings are loved and admired around the world, yet we do not understand how they were made. We see sunlit spaces; the glimmer of satin, silver, and linen; we see the softness of a hand on a lute string or letter. We might hope for some answers from the experts, but they are confounded too. Jane Jelley has taken a new path in this detective story. A painter herself, she has worked with the materials of his time and shows us how painters made their pictures layer by layer, exploring how Vermeer could have used a lens in the creation of his masterpieces. The clues were there all along. After all this time, now we can unlock the studio door, and catch a glimpse of Vermeer inside, painting light.” (Syndetics summary)