Art Recent Picks for January 2014

A selection of new art books as varied as Wellington’s “summer” weather:-

Syndetics book coverFace to face : Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance painting / Paula Nuttall.
“This lavishly illustrated catalogue accompanies an exhibition of the same name at the Huntington Art Collections that runs from September 28, 2013 to January 13, 2014. Co-curator and scholar Paula Nuttall explores the transmission of ideas, techniques, and modes of artistic rendering that first developed in the Burgundian court and became hugely influential in southern Europe—notably painting in Florence, usually considered the artistic epicenter of Renaissance Europe. Nuttall treats thematic groupings of the exhibition, exploring the diptych as an art form, the portrayal of the face of Christ, the development of portraiture, and the virtuosic renderings of materials and textures.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverDamien Hirst : relics / curator, Francesco Bonami ; essays by Francesco Bonami, Abdellah Karroum, Michael Craig-Martin ; and an interview by Nicholas Serota.
“A groundbreaking work, this catalog accompanies the largest exhibition ever realized on Damien Hirst, surveying the oeuvres of the highly acclaimed British artist. Published on the occasion of Relics, Hirst’s first retrospective exhibition in Doha, Qatar, this richly illustrated book offers a different perspective on the work of one of the best-known artists working today. Tracing Hirst’s career from his emergence on the art scene in the Young British Artists movement to his present status as one of the most controversial and highly regarded artists of his generation, this volume offers a complete overview on his wide-ranging practice, which includes installation, painting, sculpture, and drawing and challenges the boundaries between art, science, and popular culture.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAmerican mirror : the life and art of Norman Rockwell / Deborah Solomon.
“In this well-paced, insightful biography of the iconic illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post, art critic Solomon (Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell) reveals an enormously complicated man whose wholesome vision of America was not merely commercial kitsch, but art that sprung from an emotional life fraught with anxiety, depression, and self-doubt. This sympathetic portrait depicts a repressed and humble Rockwell-a fastidious realist whose style and obsessions clashed with the values of modernism… Though Solomon opts to simplify and quickly dismiss criticism of Rockwell (such as Dwight Macdonald’s), her substantive narrative captures the abundant complexities of this unusual artist, and reclaims him as a master storyteller.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBalthus : cats and girls / Sabine Rewald.
“Accompanying an exhibition at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art that opens in September 2013, this captivating catalogue focuses on French painter Balthus (aka Balthasar Klossowski, 1908-2001) and his obsession with childhood and the pubescent girls who modeled for his best-known works. Veteran Balthus scholar Rewald, a curator of modern and contemporary art at the Met, lucidly provides both the biographical and art-historical context for Balthus’s young subjects, whom he often depicted in gawky poses that heighten the tension between their innocence and looming puberty. Balthus vehemently denied the work’s eroticism. The girls are typically accompanied by smug cats-possibly erotic symbols and perhaps “a stand-in for the artist.” Cats had been a theme of Balthus’s since his childhood; at age 11, he completed 40 ink sketches of a stray he called Mitsou, and published the sketches with the support of poet Rainer Maria Rilke; they are splendidly reproduced here.” (Adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe Vatican : all the paintings / Anja Grebe ; introduction by Ross King.
“This comprehensive and heavy tome illustrates all the works of art on display in the Vatican and underscores the variety of its art, including works that popes commissioned from painters as well as works that were accumulated for art appreciation and prestige beginning in the 17th century. The book is divided into 22 sections representing the museums and areas of the Vatican. This includes the Pinacoteca (painting gallery), with paintings given to or purchased by the popes or removed from altarpieces of papal churches. Also included are images of art from the Borgia Apartments, the famous Raphael Rooms, and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. This book, which has a DVD that includes every work of art, will appeal to readers who are interested in the art of the Vatican.” (adapted from 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 amazon.com 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 amazon.com description)

Art recent picks August 2013

Syndetics book coverCornelia Parker / Iwona Blazwick ; foreword by Yoko Ono ; introduction by Bruce W. Ferguson ; commentaries by Cornelia Parker.
“Described as a “physicist with the virtuoso skills of a craftsperson,” British conceptual artist Parker (born in 1956) has received glowing praise since the 1990s for her scientific research-based work and violent transformations of found objects. Wonderfully photographed and featuring a foreword by Yoko Ono … Unfortunately, Blazwick’s five essays do not adequately explain Parker’s enthusiasm for objects associated with history and famous people: a light-box display of Mia Farrow’s blue gown from Rosemary’s Baby; photomicrographs of Einstein’s chalk board; a pillow cut by Henry VIII’s sword. Viewers are supposed to be intrigued by these historical abstractions, but they can feel superfluous. As Parker writes, “Very often, the process involved in my work is just a flimsy excuse to get my hands on these objects that changed the face of history.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverFrancis Bacon : painting in a Godless world / Rina Arya.
“Arya (Univ. of Wolverhampton, UK) examines a contradiction of Francis Bacon’s oeuvre: the atheist’s denigrating use of religious imagery that seems to reinforce the potential meaning of the source material. According to Arya, Bacon’s art engages questions of theological debate while exploring the human condition through themes such as animalism, violence, suffering, alienation, and death … In examining connections between Bacon’s life, art, and religious association of symbolic and compositional devices, the book achieves its chief aim of consolidating recognition of religion’s significance in Bacon’s art…” (Syndetics review)

Syndetics book coverBoaz Vaadia : sculpture 1971-2012 / essay by Wendy Steiner ; foreword by Ivan C. Karp ; introduction by Anthony Brown ; artist Impressions by Boaz Vaadia.
“Eye-catching, life-size, and natural stone sculptures creatively conceived and intricately constructed that stop passersby in their tracks, are the hallmark of sculptor Boaz Vaadia. Drawing inspiration chiefly from what Vaadia calls ‘the primal connection to nature,’ he carves and assembles multilayered figurative pieces from glacial boulders and bluestone – originally discovered by Vaadia when bluestone sidewalks in SoHo were being replaced by concrete in the mid-1970s. He sculpts the bluestone in assorted sizes and colours to portray stunning likenesses – all named from the Old Testament – of family members, friends, and even the occasional accompanying dog or cat…” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverZainul Abedin / edited by Rosa Maria Falvo, with essays by Abul Monsur, Nazrul Islam, and Abul Hasnat.
“Zainul Abedin (1914-1976), reverently called the Shilpacharya or guru of art, is the architect of the modern art movement in Bangladesh, which began with the setting up of the first Government Art Institute in Dhaka in 1948. For his devotion to art education and his visionary and artistic achievements he has always been the undisputed protagonist of the Bangladeshi modern art scene. This book showcases Zainul Abedin’s work over a period of 40 years, with more than 200 colour and black and white plates illustrating his special relationship with his country, from various artistic, social, and political perspectives. This ground-breaking work retraces his personal vision and provides the best interpretative angles into a culture and reality that has been often overlooked and even misunderstood in the West. Abedin’s humanitarian stance and his commitment to art forged the way for an entire generation of Bangladeshi contemporary artists”
(adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverThe Bay Area School : Californian artists from the 1950s and 1960s / Thomas Williams.
“Tracing the development of Abstract Expressionism and the counter-blast of Figurative art on the West Coast of America during a decisive period, this important publication marks a milestone in the on-going understanding of the post-war art scene in the United States. The movement had its origins in the art schools of San Francisco and Berkeley in the early 1940s and rose to prominence in the 1950s as a major challenge to the dominance of New York. Starting with the work of the ‘first generation’ artists, such as David Park and Richard Diebenkorn, whose pioneering images explored both figuration and abstraction, the movement’s ‘bridge’ and ‘second’ generation artists, including Paul Wonner and Joan Brown, also feature. Including insightful discussions regarding the importance of drawing as a group activity, The Bay Area School skilfully presents a thorough survey of key works of the period and successfully argues the mutual influence of abstraction and figuration during this critical period, demonstrating, in turn, the continued importance of the these artists today” (amazon.com description)

Art recent picks for Jan 2013

Six new books on six very different painters : Jan 2013’s picks for summer art reading:-

Syndetics book coverJohn Everett Millais / Jason Rosenfeld.
“John Everett Millais (1829 – 1896) was one of the most significant English painters of the nineteenth century, successful and respected during his career, honoured as the first painter to be created a baronet, he remains, as recent exhibitions of his work have demonstrated, equally well known today. Whilst his substantial contributions are rarely, if ever, denied, in past art historical accounts of Millais’s long career there has been an unfortunate tendency to superficially distinguish between the early promise of his Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces and the perceived commercial and traditionalist orientation of his later works. In this new study of the artist’s life and work Rosenfeld argues that such readings are far from accurate, demonstrating that the development of Millais’s art was at the forefront of contemporary painting throughout his life. … In Rosenfeld’s words, it is a ‘consistently relevant and inventive Millais’ that emerges in this book” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverKeith Vaughan / Philip Vann and Gerard Hastings.
Keith Vaughan (1912-77) was a major figure in post-war British art who is known for his searching portraits of the male nude and his association with the Neo-Romantic painters. This book provides for the first time a definitive, illustrated account of his life and work, exploring his wide-ranging achievement as a modern British artist. … A fascinating essay by Gerard Hastings provides a close-up examination of Vaughan’s gouache technique. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMark Rothko : the decisive decade, 1940-1950 / Bradford R. Collins, editor ; [essays by] David Anfam … [et al.].
“The first publication dedicated exclusively to Mark Rothko’s art during the critical formative period of the 1940s. Examining the development and artistic exploration of one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, this unprecedented volume presents the works of American artist Mark Rothko from the 1940s, a time when his most essential development as a painter occurred, dramatically and in a very compact space of time. During this period, Rothko moved from expressive figurative and surrealist canvases to more abstract multiform subjects and finally to his signature abstractions–luminous rectangles of color suspended in space.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMaster of stillness : Jeffrey Smart : paintings 1940-2011 / Barry Pearce.
This book on the work of Jeffrey Smart is the first since his virtual retirement from painting in 2011. It illuminates the vision of the most celebrated of Australian expatriate artists, from his beginnings in Adelaide until his last major composition painted in Italy where he has lived for the last five decades. Adelaide, where Smart was born in 1921, was where his essential evolution as an artist took shape. His early fascination for its grid-like urban landscape was a perfect basis for an ongoing celebration of the phenomena of highways, traffic signs, trucks, transmitters and brutish modular architecture in post-war Europe; aspects of the modern world others found ugly but which he declared beautiful. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPaul Klee : life and work / text by Christine Hopfengart and Michael Baumgartner ; with contributions by Fabienne Eggelhöfer … [et al.].
“The many books on Paul Klee (1879-1940) published over the years should not obscure the fact that there has been no new, comprehensive Klee overview since Will Grohmann’s much reprinted 1954 monograph. With Paul Klee: Life and Work, the Zentrum Paul Klee has set out to fill this gap, drawing on a wealth of new resources including the Klee family’s archives, much of which is published here for the first time. …The result of many years of research and labor, this magisterial publication demonstrates conclusively why Klee numbers among the most influential and best loved artists of the past 100 years.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverRaphael : a passionate life / Antonio Forcellino ; translated by Lucinda Byatt.
“In this carefully crafted biography of one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance, art historian Forcellino offers a vivid account of the artist’s ambitions and cogent explanations of the personal and political motivations of Raphael’s patrons, many of whom were from the Roman Curia. The author examines the career of Raphael, son of a painter from Urbino, who at 30 painted the papal apartments in the Vatican with scenes that were inspired by church policy; and who created the propagandistic portraits of Julius II and Leo X. Forcellino also endorses the legend of Raphael as a lover, interpreting the sensuality of Raphael’s paintings of beautiful women in light of historical accounts that Raphael died because of his romantic exploits. Nonetheless, despite his early death, Raphael developed a unique style of psychological portraiture and had significant insight into ancient building techniques.” (CHOICE) (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Recent art picks for November

This month: Banksy, Grimwood & Slinkachu + Cezanne, Symbolism & NZ art:

Syndetics book cover240 : two hundred and forty years of New Zealand painting / Gil Docking, ; with additions covering 1970-2010 by Michael Dunn ; and 1990-2010 by Edward Hanfling.
“This landmark book on New Zealand artists and their work was first published in 1971, extended to 1990 by art historian Michael Dunn and now again to 2010 by art historian, writer and lecturer Edward Hanfling… In total, this new edition features more than 200 paintings… “–Ubsbooks.co.nz. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBehind the canvas : an insider’s guide to the New Zealand art market / Warwick Henderson.
“A look at the world of collecting art with a focus on the New Zealand art market. Written by an accomplished art dealer and gallery owner.”–Publisher information. (from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCézanne : a life / Alex Danchev.
An assessment of the life and work of Paul Cézanne offers insight into his views about an artist’s role and his self-doubt about his own capabilities, demonstrating how his beliefs revolutionized the ways subsequent artists would see and depict the world. (from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVan Gogh to Kandinsky : symbolist landscape in Europe 1880-1910 / Richard Thomson … [et al.].
A groundbreaking collaboration between the National Galleries of Scotland, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Finnish National Gallery, this catalogue accompanies the first exhibition dedicated to landscapes by the Symbolists, the innovative movement whose artists took a more imaginative and emotional approach to painting and embraced themes such as music, nationalism, science and modernity. It covers a wide range of artists, from forerunners of symbolism, like Bocklin and Whistler, to Mondrian and Kandinsky, who provided the impulse for major 20th-century movements, such as surrealism and abstraction… (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBanksy : you are an acceptable level of threat and if you were not you would know about it / [compiled and edited by Gary Shove ; words by Patrick Potter].
“The single best collection of photographs of Banksy’s street work. Period. You Are An Acceptable Level of Threat concentrates on this singular artist’s iconic imagery, spanning the late 90s up until NOW. The locations are from around the world (predominantly the UK, US and Europe), and many images have never been seen before. When Banksy started out painting, the political landscape was bleak. Fortunately now, it’s ten times worse. As Banksy’s cheerfully aggressive political work becomes ever more relevant, this comprehensive tome sets about presenting his art in the context of the era he was responding to” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverBrian Grimwood : the man who changed the look of British illustration.
“Celebrated illustrator and artist Brian Grimwood is often referred to as “the man who changed the look of British illustration”. His free and fluid style first characterised the visual culture of the 1960s in iconic images such as those he did for the influential magazine Nova… And as founder (in 1983) and Director of the Central Illustration Agency (CIA), London, Grimwood has also been pivotal in the promotion of the work of a host of illustrators from around the world, including Peter Blake, Jeff Fisher and Alan Aldrige-among the 80 or so illustrators on CIA’s books. With an ‘Introduction’ by Sir Peter Blake, this beautifully illustrated book is the first complete overview of Grimwood’s work, and serves to further reinforce his fundamental contribution to the changing face of illustration since the 1960s – both in Britain and internationally.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk description)

Syndetics book coverGlobal model village : the international street art of Slinkachu.“… Global Model Village collects together the international works of Slinkachu, the London-based artist who as part of his ‘Little People Project’ has been abandoning tiny model people on the mean streets of the world since 2006. Documented through photography, these little dramas of hope and tragedy, loneliness and humour somehow get to the heart of what it means to be human; to be alone among millions of other people, all experiencing the particular melancholy and magic of life in the big city.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk description)

October Art recent picks

Our recent art books include: A classy book on Georgia O’Keefe, a fascinating collection of interviews with artists (find out who has influenced them!), a new look at Andy Warhol, a beautifully illustrated book on the Spanish painter Sorolla, and the very cool graphic art book “Sketchtravel”.

Syndetics book coverGeorgia O’Keeffe and her houses : Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu / Barbara Buhler Lynes and Agapita Judy Lopez.
“Painter Georgia O’Keeffe’s (1887-1986) dominant themes–vast, open spaces and washes of color, skulls, flowers, mountains, sky, “all the earth colors of the painter’s palette”–were inspired by the landscape surrounding her two custom-designed houses in New Mexico (Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu), traditional buildings that were carefully tweaked to bring desert light into spaces for eating, reading, cooking, and painting. O’Keeffe scholar-curators Lynes (Georgia O’Keeffe Museum) and Lopez collect correspondence, architectural plans, photographs, present-day images, portraits of the artist, and reproductions of paintings to illustrate how O’Keeffe’s living spaces influenced her creative life… ” (Publisher Weekly) (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn my view : personal reflections on art by today’s leading artists / edited by Simon Grant.
“In this splendid tribute to the enduring power of images, art historian Grant, editor of the magazine Tate Etc., gathers the reflections of more than 75 international artists as they contemplate the work of an artist who has inspired and influenced them… This impressive collection reminds us of the power of great art to inspire and change us” (Publisher Weekly) (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRegarding Warhol : sixty artists, fifty years / Mark Rosenthal ; [interviews conducted by] Marla Prather ; [visual archive], Ian Alteveer ; [A timeline], Rebecca Lowery.
“The first full-scale exploration of Andy Warhol’s tremendous reach across several generations of artists who in key ways respond to his groundbreaking work. Includes interviews and visual archive and illustrated chronology that chart the “Warhol effect” over the past 50 years” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSorolla : the masterworks / Blanca Pons-Sorolla..
“A new survey of the best works by the elusive and spectacular Spanish Impressionist Joaquín Sorolla. Often compared to his contemporary, the American artist John Singer Sargent, Joaquín Sorolla (1863–1923) was a master draftsman and painter of landscapes, formal portraits, and monumental, historically themed canvases. Highly influenced by French Impressionism, the Valencian artist was a master plein-air painter known for his luminous seaside scenes of frolicking youths and for vivid depictions of Spanish rural life and its pleasures and customs… With virtually all of the artist’s previous publications now out of print, this much-anticipated volume is an important addition to the literature on this great Spanish master” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverSketchtravel.
“Sketchtravel is an artistic journey unlike any other. No editorial project has ever before brought together as many visual artists around a common object. Passed between 72 artists over 5 years and across over 35,000 miles, the Sketchtravel sketchbook showcases the creativity of artists in numerous disciplines from around the world. Illustrators, animators, painters, and more each illustrated a page with their unique style before passing the book to the next artist. Reflecting a who’s who of popular contemporary artists, this imaginative diverse collection of artwork will inspire art lovers with its scope, diversity, and beauty, much as it did each artist who contributed a link in its chain” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Art recent picks

The impossible museum, and other intriguing new art books for September 2012:

Syndetics book coverArt of the Andes : from Chavín to Inca / Rebecca Stone.
“This wide-ranging survey has established itself as the best single volume introduction to Andean art and architecture, and is an essential guide to pre-Columbian Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia for the general reader, student, traveler, and artist alike. Describing the strikingly varied artistic achievements of the Chavín, Paracas, Moche, Nasca, Chimu, and Inca cultures, among others, Rebecca Stone has rewritten and expanded the text throughout, touching on many of the recent discoveries and advances in the field…” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverThe early Dürer / [Albrecht Dürer] ; edited by Daniel Hess and Thomas Eser ; [translations: Lance Anderson … [et al.]].
“Painter, engraver, designer of woodcuts, and major art theorist, Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) is Germany’s most famous artist. This new study, published in association with the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, focuses on his early art and the circumstances of the young painter’s life that enabled his unique work. Dürer is resituated in the artistic context of his time, at an exciting crossroad between the imitation of traditional painting and the selfconscious renewal of his profession…”
(adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverGive me tomorrow / Alex Katz ; [texts by Martin Clark … [et al.] ; edited by Martin Clark].
“Born in 1927 in Brooklyn, New York, Alex Katz is one of the most important and respected living American artists. He began exhibiting in the 1950s, at a time when Abstract Expressionism was still the dominant force in American art. Whilst he was heavily influenced by this generation, the work he himself created became a precursor to the Pop Art movement of the 1960s. Katz’s paintings are defined by their flatness of colour and form, their economy of line, and their cool but seductive emotional detachment, evoking an everyday America of easy living, leisure and recreation…” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverThe impossible museum : the best art you’ll never see / Céline Delavaux.
“Spanning centuries and encompassing a variety of masterpieces–from paintings on canvas and cave walls to structures and jewelry–this fascinating compendium of “lost art” takes readers on a historic journey and explores how and why art can disappear from our lives… However they disappeared from view, these works represent significant gaps in art history. Fortunately for us, many exact replicas or studies for these pieces exist, while others were photographed before their destruction. Working with the latest research and documentation, author Céline Delavaux brings each lost piece back to life through illuminating text and helpful illustrations…” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverRoy Lichtenstein : a retrospective / James Rondeau and Sheena Wagstaff ; with contributions by Clare Bell, Yve-Alain Bois, Iria Candela, Harry Cooper, Sara Doris, Chrissie Iles, James Lawrence, and Stephen Little.
“Released in conjunction with a retrospective exhibit, this critical survey presents Roy Lichtenstein as an artist who transcended subject matter in order to create a visual world both culturally prescient and deeply engaged with art history. Although widely regarded as a preeminent Pop artist, Lichtenstein’s work and thematic concerns have received relatively slight critical attention; the nine essays collected here help remedy the situation, with every writer addressing a different mode or period of the artist’s oeuvre… (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.” (Adapted from Publisher Weekly) (Syndetics summary)

New art & graphics books: featuring David Hockney, Yayoi Kusama, Alessandro Raho and more

A mixture of arty treats to start off your New Year – three great artist biographies and four stunning graphic art books. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverAlessandro Raho / Michael Bracewell & Nicholas Cullinan.
“Exploring the career of Alessandro Raho (b.1971) from the early 1990s to the present day, this monograph, the first of its kind on the artist, places Raho in the context of the period in which his career was established and has flourished… Exploring the major themes and subjects found in his work, alongside his artistic and philosophic influences, this groundbreaking publication will appeal to experts and artistic enthusiasts alike and will be an essential purchase for all those interested in contemporary art.” (Adapted from Amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverHockney : the biography. Volume 1, 1937-1975 / Christopher Simon Sykes.
“In this astounding first volume of his authorised biography Christopher Sykes explores the fascinating world of the most popular living artist in the world today. David Hockney’s career has spanned and epitomised the art movements of the last five decades; His story is one of precocious achievement at Bradford Art College, the Swinging 60s in London where he befriended many of the iconic cultural figures of the generation, to California and the cool of the swimming pool series of paintings, through the acclaimed set designs for countless operas around the world and major retrospective exhibitions.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInfinity net : the autobiography of Yayoi Kusama / Yayoi Kusama ; translated by Ralph McCarthy.
“In 1957, encouraged by Georgia O’Keeffe, artist Yayoi Kusama left Japan for New York City to become a star. By the time she returned to her home country in 1973, she had established herself as a leader of New York’s avant-garde movement, known for creating happenings and public orgies to protest the Vietnam War and for the polka dots that had become a trademark of her work. Her sculptures, videos, paintings, and installations are to this day included in major international exhibitions.” (Adapted from Amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverErratic : visual impact in current design / [edited by Robert Klanten, Floyd Schulze].
“Change is one of the few constants in the world. In recent years, more and more images are being created that not only capture a moment in time, but also point to a change that can and will take place directly thereafter. Erratic is a collection of current, often playful work by designers, photographers, and artists who are exploring the reciprocal effects between stability and instability, symmetry and asymmetry, and pressure and counter-pressure.” (Adapted from Amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverFingerprint no. 2 : the evolution of handmade elements in graphic design / by Chen Design Associates ; with an introduction by Joshua C. Chen ; foreword by Debbie Millman ; commentary by Colin Berry and visual essays from Stefan Bucher … [et al.].
For many designers, creating things by hand is a reaction to too much computer-based design. Since the first Fingerprint was published, ideas that were once on the fringe have begun to thrive in the mainstream. From typography and illustration to book-making and film titles, elements of handcraft have soaked into everyday life. Fingerprint No. 2 reflects the evolution of those ideas. In this second volume, you’ll still find plenty of projects created entirely without the aid of computer technology. But you’ll also discover how designers are beining to incporate the two aesthetics—handmade and digital—in order to best communicate their message. A third, hybrid aesthetic is emerging, one that marries the technologies of the past and future into a vibrant, exciting present (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverJuxtapoz illustration 2 / [edited by Saelee Oh ; writer, Evan Pricco].
The tenth book in the series revisits the magnetic attraction of the figurative line. Once again an exciting roster of contributors ranging from commercial illustrators to outsider artists put forth a retina-searing collection (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVectorism : vector graphics today / [edited and produced by Viction:workshop].
Showcases over 480 vector works composed by over 50 graphic artists from all around the world (Syndetics summary)

Great European artists re-examined

A new look at old favourites from the “golden” era to Goncharova:

Syndetics book coverDürer / Norbert Wolf.
“Drawing on the latest research, this luxurious volume presents an exciting new interpretation of Durer, both as a man and as an artist.
Durer’s prints and drawings inspired centuries of artists both during his life and after his death. Yet his talent as a painter and colourist, and his enthusiasm for the scientific world have not been widely appreciated. Durer’s influence was both international and intergenerational; indeed Picasso claimed to have been inspired by the sixteenth-century artist. Reproduced in stunning detail and including illustrations of Durer’s most famous prints and drawings, a catalogue raisonne of his paintings, and biographical research, this book presents a Durer for the twenty-first century.” (Amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverErnst Ludwig Kirchner : retrospective [published in conjunction with the exhibition “Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Retrospective”, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, April 23 to July 25, 2010 / edited by Felix Krämer].
“Ernst Ludwig Kirchner painted city life as a joyous, bustling pageant, a sophisticated swirl of desiring bodies and colorful urbanity, giving Germany an energetic iconography for the glory days of modernity. One of the four founders of Die Brucke (The Bridge), Kirchner drew on German Renaissance art to conjure expressive exaggerations of face and posture, and brought to landscape painting a city-dweller’s zest, imbuing tranquil scenery with riotous energy. Coinciding with a Kirchner retrospective at the Stadel Museum–the first to be seen in Germany in 30 years–this massive volume surveys the artist’s several creative phases and genres. … With essays by renowned art historians, this definitive monograph offers fresh perspective on the continued relevance of Kirchner.
(Amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverEgon Schiele : self-portraits and portraits / edited by Agnes Husslein-Arco and Jane Kallir.
“This fascinating new book explores how Egon Schiele reinvented the art of portraiture, brilliantly capturing the inner lives of his numerous subjects including himself. This book traces Schiele’s development as a portraitist through four principal chronological phases, from 1906 to 1918. Starting with the artist’s rigorous training at the Vienna Academy, it chronicles Schiele’s eventual break with academia and the emergence of his Expressionistic style… This volume also offers a close examination of Schiele’s self-portraits and his relationship with Gustav Klimt, Schiele’s gestic language in the context of contemporaneous photography and the silent film, as well as brief biographies of Schiele’s subjects and transcriptions of illuminating letters pertaining to his life and work.” (Amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverGolden : Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk Van Otterloo Collection / Frederik J. Duparc with Femke Diercks, Reinier Baarsen, and Loek Van Aalst.
“The van Otterloos’ personal assemblage of art represents two decades of astute collecting. Items represented are from the Dutch/Flemish golden age of the 17th century, created during a time of “rapidly changing opportunity and rich circumstances.” The collectors have a great eye and were assisted by Simon Levie, former director of the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), as well as Duparc, former director of the Mauritshuis (The Hague). The van Otterloos’ passion and Levie’s skill are evident in this collection of portraits, history paintings, landscapes, genre scenes, still lifes, and furniture from more than 60 artists. Each work has a meticulous listing of provenance, exhibitions, and literature so you can research whether or not you’ve seen it displayed (the owners frequently lend to museums).” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverNatalia Goncharova : between Russian tradition and European modernism / edited by Beate Kemfert with Alla Chilova ; with texts by Evgenia Iluchina … [et al.].
“One of the original “amazons of the Russian avant garde,” Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962) bequeathed a rich and complex body of work to a culture that has only recently begun to recognize it. Like her contemporary Kazimir Malevich, Goncharova drew inspiration from the folklore and art of her country, producing in her early years very colorful and strongly ornamental paintings, as well as religious works influenced by the Russian icon tradition. In the 1910s, Goncharova began experimenting with Cubism, becoming one of the earliest exponents of modern art in Moscow; in 1917, she settled permanently in Paris, where she designed costumes and sets for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. This publication, the first to provide a full overview of Goncharova’s career (including her later, less documented years in Paris) illuminates the trajectory of Goncharova’s career, restoring her work to its former prominence.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRenoir in the 20th century / with essays by Roger Benjamin … [et al.] ; [managing editor, Claudia Einecke].
“Here at last is a publication devoted to the glorious final three decades of Pierre-Auguste Renoir-the decades in which the painter turned away from Impressionism and toward a more decorative approach informed by his own idiosyncratic interpretation of art history. During this period, Renoir was initially looking at painters such as Rubens, Titian and Raphael, and dedicating himself to cheery subjects such as bathers, domestic idylls and landscapes that were influenced by both classical mythology and by his relocation to the South of France. … in this book, which accompanies a major touring exhibition organized by the Reunion des Musees Nationaux, the Musee d’Orsay and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, it is possible to see clearly the influence that Renoir had on younger artists such as Bonnard, Matisse and Picasso, as well as how they received and studied his work.” (Amazon.com description)

Alice Neel – art books to check out!

Alice Neel is an American painter who produced works in the mid-part of the twentieth century.   A feminist before her time, Neel’s lifestyle, and even her art, was sometimes considered controversial.  She is now thought of as one of the best American artists of last century, even though her work is not as well known as contemporaries Jackson Pollock or Mark Rothko.   Her style is figurative, linear and emotional and I think it’s similar to Elizabeth Peyton or John Curran.  The library has two new books about her that are worth checking out if you enjoy modern, American art and discovering new artists.

Syndetics book coverAlice Neel : painted truths / Jeremy Lewison … [et al.].
This book was published to coincide with an international exhibition of Alice Neel’s work held last year.  It’s a comprehensive collection of her art, spanning seven decades, with wonderful colour plates of both her paintings and drawings.   The essays examine her stylistic development and complex pyschological themes.

Syndetics book coverAlice Neel : the art of not sitting pretty / Phoebe Hoban.
Well known writer Phoebe Hoban covers Neel’s personal life and artistic career in this biography.  Neel had a tough life – living in 1920s Cuba, struggling with the death of her child, suffering a nervous breakdown – but continued to create contemporary works of art amidst all the drama.  Her paintings were highly personal and she often used her experiences as subjects, or subtexts, for her paintings.  The book places Neel in the social context of her time and considers her place as an artist who worked outside the accepted New York art world and as an important figure in the feminist art movement.  It is an interesting read about a talented artist with a tumultuous life and career.