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 connections – New Art Books in October

October brings us beautiful books on modern art and how history has shaped art to be what it is today. From fabrics and design, to colour, sculpture and photography, this month showcases modern artisans. Not just crafts people but artists using old methods to explore new ideas and push creative and social boundaries.

Syndetics book coverAi Weiwei / edited by Hans Werner Holzwarth ; with texts by Roger M. Buergel [and four others].
“As his personal circumstances move in constant flux, Ai Weiwei remains a cultural magnet. Renowned for his political activism and social media activity almost as much as for his social interventions, contemporary approach to the readymade, and knowledge of Chinese traditional crafts, Ai’s fame extends throughout and beyond the art world. This monograph explores each of Ai’s career phases up until his release from Chinese custody.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCreamy psychology / Yvonne Todd ; edited by Robert Leonard.
“Twelve years ago, a young Auckland photographer, Yvonne Todd, became the surprise winner of the first Walters Award. Todd is best known for her portraits of women, her mostly invented female ‘characters’. Creamy Psychology surveys Todd’s work since the late 1990s, including her recent Gilbert Melrose project and her latest photographic series Ethical Minorities. Comprehensively illustrated, Creamy Psychology is the new go-to book on Yvonne Todd.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreen : the history of a color / Michel Pastoureau ; translated by Jody Gladding.
“This beautiful and richly illustrated book presents a fascinating and revealing history of the color green in European societies from prehistoric times to today. Examining the evolving place of green in art, clothes, literature, religion, science, and everyday life, Pastoureau traces how culture has profoundly changed the perception and meaning of the color over millennia.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChanel art / by Karl Lagerfeld.
“For the set of CHANELs Spring-Summer 2014 Prêt-à-Porter fashion show, Karl Lagerfeld transformed Paris’ Grand Palais into a vast art gallery filled with specially created CHANEL artworks. CHANEL Art is a record of this gallery and unique moment in fashion history. Lagerfeld personally conceived each of the diverse paintings, sculptures and installations, many of which are ironic interpretations of CHANELs famous icons informed by a pop sensibility.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover50 portraits you should know / Brad Finger.
“This wide-ranging collection of 50 iconic portraits includes works by many of the world’s most renowned artists, each with their own style, technique, and story to tell. Throughout the history of art, most of the world’s greatest artists have produced portraits at some point in their careers, whether commissioned by rulers or magnates; created to preserve a cherished friend or relation; or even to capture the artist’s own likeness.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArt & textiles : fabric as material and concept in modern art from Klimt to the present / edited by Markus Brüderlin ; with contributions by Hartmut Böhme [and 11 others] ; translations, Amy J. Klement.
“The boundary between arts and crafts appears to be blurring. Thread, weave, network, and pattern are simultaneously foundation, result, and inspiration and spill over into the areas painting, sculpture, installation, and media art. This opulently designed volume presents both an artistic and an intercultural dialogue.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe new artisans. II / Olivier Dupon.
“Collectable, one-of-a-kind artisanal objects–whether hand-woven textiles or handblown glass–have become a fixture of the modern home; and the artists who produce them are increasingly sought-after. In this follow-up volume to The New Artisans, design expert and lauded blogger Olivier Dupon continues his exploration of the most creative artisans working today. Divided into two sections, The New Artisans II is the ultimate reference to the vibrant, creative world of the handmade.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverColour in the making : from old wisdom to new brilliance / [Philip Ball, Mark Clarke and Carinna Parraman]
Colour in the Making is a visual history of art told through the materials of color. From the discovery and use of early earth pigments to organic chemistry and into contemporary dyes, inks, printing techniques and manufacture. Throughout this sumptuously colorful book artists’ and designers’ projects illustrate the behind the scenes inventions and processes of color-making.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStrange material : storytelling through textiles / Leanne Prain ; project photography by Jeanie Ow.
Strange Material explores the relationship between handmade textiles and storytelling. Offbeat, poetic, and subversive, it inspires readers to re-imagine the possibilities of creating through needle and fabric.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Art Recent Picks for March 2014

Leaves are falling, light is fading – no better time to get out a snazzy new “coffee table” art book from the library!:

Syndetics book cover9 artists / [edited by] Bartholomew Ryan ; texts by Yael Bartana, Liam Gillick, Renzo Martens, Bjarne Melgaard, Nástio Mosquito, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Hito Steyerl, Danh Vo.
“Accompanying an exciting exhibition at the Walker Art Center, this catalogue brings together 16-page “books” by the contributing artists, with occasional commentary from the curators. The eight artists (yes, there are eight) all create work that is dynamically and decidedly focused on contemporary questions. While their modes and perspectives vary, together they probe the role of the artist and citizen in a heavily networked, globalizing world. The images throughout are as rich and thought-provoking as the text, resulting in a visual and textual object that continually rewards engagement.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYinka Shonibare MBE / edited by Rachel Kent.
“Newly revised and updated, this authoritative book presents the exciting, ironic, and often subversive work of Yinka Shonibare MBE, one of the stars of the international art scene. Born in London and raised in Nigeria, Shonibare employs a diverse range of media–from sculpture, painting, and installation to photography and film–to probe matters of race, class, cultural identity, and history. He is perhaps best known for his signature use of a colorful “African” batik fabric that actually originated in Indonesia and was introduced to Africa in the19th century by British and Dutch colonizers. Incorporated into Victorian costumes, covering sculptures of extraterrestrials, or stretched like canvas for paintings, these vibrant textiles cleverly challenge issues of origin and authenticity. ” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMagritte : the mystery of the ordinary, 1926-1938 / edited by Anne Umland ; with essays by Stephanie D’Alessandro … [et al.].
“Featuring works from more than 50 collections, this exhibition catalogue reproduces and contextualizes Rene Magritte’s development as a surrealist artist from 1926, when he began his quest, until 1938, when he presented a lecture that summarized his accomplishments in this genre. The introduction explains Magritte’s cubist work prior to 1926 and explores how the artistic influence of Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst shifted his work toward surrealism. The catalogue proper and four additional essays divide the 13-year period into segments based on the artist’s physical location–from Brussels to Paris, back to Brussels, and finally to London, where he completed commissions for Edward James.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe global art compass / Alistair Hicks.
In the past, writers and critics such as Goethe, Ruskin, and Clement Greenberg perpetuated particular ideas about art and even dictated these ideas to the artists themselves. Today, artists no longer have to follow one prevailing theory and the art world is less centralized in particular cities: New York, London, Paris, Berlin, and Beijing all offer rich environments to artists but none are designated as the exclusive center of the art world. In this book, Alistair Hicks demonstrates his belief that no single curator, critic, or dealer should monopolize our view of what is happening in the art world today, but that by listening to the artists themselves, we can gradually make out an ever-evolving web of patterns, relationships, and themes.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFantasy+. 5, World’s most imaginative artworks / Vincent Zhao.
“This is the 2013 volume in the highly regarded Fantasy+ series. This book collects the latest works from top artists around the world, categorised by their applications, from advertising, book illustration, modeling, games, animation to personal portfolio works. Rich artistic creations and a diverse variety of styles engage the reader in a powerful visual experience. It will provide a valuable reference source of expressive methods and techniques for art and design enthusiasts.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverGallery 1988’s crazy4cult : cult movie art. 2 / introduction by Seth Rogen ; [edited by Gallery 1988].
“There’s probably a more dignified way to enjoy the pop culture group Gallery 1988’s second collection of its Crazy 4 Cult art show than by stopping on every page to show your friends the brilliant takes on -Donnie Darko, The Breakfast Club, Suspiria, or A Clockwork Orange. However, breathless excitement is the honest response to this collection of cult classic-inspired artwork featuring mixed-media takes on beloved films. As actor Seth Rogen says in the book’s introduction, this is an accessible art collection for fans of offbeat interpretations of the movies they grew up watching.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArt : everything you need to know about the greatest artists and their works / Susie Hodge.
“Art introduces readers to 100 of the world’s most important artists and their paintings, from the 13th century to the modern era. Works by artists including Caravaggio, Vermeer, van Gogh and Warhol are reproduced in superb high quality, arranged chronologically and set in their historical context by Susie Hodge’s concise and readable narrative. Including explanations of key periods in art history – from the Early Renaissance to Dutch Realism, and from Rococo to Pop Art – a guide to the world’s best art galleries and a helpful glossary of key terms, this is the perfect book for any art lover.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk description)