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)

Comicfest: Some of our favourite things

To get us into the spirit of the upcoming ComicFest, I thought I would share some of my favourite things from the wider comic book universe. Ranging from adult to young adult – graphic novel, comic, and manga – alchemy, superpowers, science, wizardry or just plain bad-assedness, there’s a whole range of stuff here.

Syndetics book coverGirl genius [1] : Agatha Heterodyne & the Beetleburg Clank : a gaslamp fantasy with adventure, romance & mad science / story by Phil & Kaja Foglio ; pencils by Phil Foglio ; inks by Brian Snoddy.
“The Heterodyne family, who “travelled the globe negotiating peace, stopping monsters, and shutting down doomsday devices,” are heroes among those with the Spark, the ability to play with the laws of physics, until their disappearance. Now, student lab assistant Agatha Clay works for Dr. Beetle at Transylvania Polygnostic University. After soldiers of fortune steal the locket her uncle gave her years before, she is cast out of the university and left alone while her anxious foster parents go to retrieve it.” (Abridged from School Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverBlack butler. 1 / Yana Toboso ; [translation: Tomo Kimura].
“When a fire claims his parents, Ciel Phantomhive must step up as the head of his father’s company and as Earl Phantomhive. It would be a lot for the young boy to handle were it not for his faithful butler, Sebastian. He’s almost too good to be true – or at least, too good to be human.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFreakAngels. Volume one / story, Warren Ellis ; artwork, Paul Duffield.
“Twenty-three years ago, twelve strange children were born in England at exactly the same moment. Six years ago, the world ended. Today, eleven strange 23-year-olds live in and defend Whitechapel, maybe the last real settlement in flooded London. When a dazed, gun-toting girl appears on the outskirts with a deadly grudge against the self-proclaimed Freakangels, the kids realize that an old enemy is still alive beyond the safety of their borders… a twelfth psychic child, evil and exiled, who can program human minds to hate, and send his private, pirate armies into Whitechapel for revenge. The first chapter in award-winning author Warren Ellis’ post-apocalyptic web comic series!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFullmetal alchemist. Vol. 1 / story and art by Hiromu Arakawa.
“Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world, somewhere between magic, art, and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabble in these powers to grant their dearest wish, they become slaves of the military-alchemical complex.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Dresden Files : welcome to the jungle / written by Jim Butcher ; pencils by Ardian Syaf ; inks by Nick Nix…[et al.]
“When the supernatural world spins out of control, when the police can’t handle what goes bump in the night, when monsters come screaming out of nightmares and into the mean streets, there’s just one man to call: Harry Dresden, the only professional wizard in the Chicago phone book. A police consultant and private investigator, Dresden has to walk the dangerous line between the world of night and the light of day.
Now Harry Dresden is investigating a brutal mauling at the Lincoln Park Zoo that has left a security guard dead and many questions unanswered. As an investigator of the supernatural, he senses that there’s more to this case than a simple animal attack, and as Dresden searches for clues to figure out who is really behind the crime, he finds himself next on the victim list, and being hunted by creatures that won’t leave much more than a stain if they catch him.” (Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverFruits basket. Volume 1 / Natsuki Takaya.
“Nothing can dampen the optimistic spirit of orphaned high school girl Tohru Honda – not even being forced to live alone in a tent. One morning, she discovers a nearby house, where her popular classmate Yuki Sohma and his older cousin Shigure live by themselves. They invite her to stay with them as their (desperately needed) housekeeper, and she soon learns of the family curse: when the Sohmas are embraced by members of the opposite sex, they turn into animals of the Chinese zodiac. Tohru also meets Kyo, the 13th member of the cursed family, who turns into a cat, an animal ostracized by the zodiac members in an ancient legend. As Tohru brightens their lives, they give her something she thought she had lost: a family.” (Abridged from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverHawkeye : my life as a weapon / Matt Fraction, writer ; David Aja, artist, #1-3 ; Javier Pulido, artist, #4-5. “Collects Hawkeye #1-5 & Young Avengers Presents #6. The breakout star of this summer’s blockbuster Avengers film, Clint Barton – aka the self-made hero Hawkeye – fights for justice! With ex-Young Avenger Kate Bishop by his side, he’s out to prove himself as one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! SHIELD recruits Clint to intercept a packet of incriminating evidence – before he becomes the most wanted man in the world.” (Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverGunnerkrigg Court. Volume 1, Orientation / by Tom Siddell.
“Antimony Carver is a precocious and preternaturally self-possessed young girl starting her first year of school at gloomy Gunnerkrigg Court, a very British boarding school that has robots running around alongside body-snatching demons, forest gods, and the odd mythical creature. The opening volume in the series follows Antimony through her orientation year: the people she meets, the strange things that happen, and the things she causes to happen as she and her new friend, Kat, unravel the mysteries of the Court and deal with the everyday adventures of growing up. Tom Siddell’s popular and award-winning webcomic (www.gunnerkrigg.com) is here collected in print for the first time.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Boys. Volume one, The name of the game / written by Garth Ennis ; illustrated by Darick Robertson.
“THIS IS GOING TO HURT! In a world where costumed heroes soar through the sky and masked vigilantes prowl the night, someone’s got to make sure the “supes” don’t get out of line. And someone will. Billy Butcher, Wee Hughie, Mother’s Milk, The Frenchman and The Female are The Boys: a CIA backed team of very dangerous people, each one dedicated to the struggle against the most dangerous force on Earth – superpower. Some superheores have to be watched. Some have to be controlled. And some of them – sometimes – need to be taken out of the picture. That’s when you call in THE BOYS.” (Syndetics summary)

For more ComicFest information and an events timetable go here to our events calender or Facebook page, and check out the display items from Weta Cave on Central’s 1st floor from the 17th of April.