Art Recent Picks for February 2014

For February, a festival of fabulous new art books:-

Syndetics book coverContemporary art in the United Kingdom / [edited by Black Dog Publishing ; contributors, Nicolas Bourriaud … [et al.]].
“The fifth title in Black Dog Publishing’s Artworld series, Contemporary Art in the United Kingdom showcases the wealth of contemporary art being produced in the United Kingdom today. Diverse in content and style, Contemporary Art in the United Kingdom features work from artists including, Gavin Turk, Tracey Emin, Fiona Banner, Bob and Roberta Smith, Chris Ofili and Mark Quinn, alongside the work of emerging British artists today. Exploring the phenomenon of the YBA, looking at pre and post-YBA; alongside the growing influence of art fairs such as Frieze and prizes such as the Turner Prize; Contemporary Art in the United Kingdom provides a comprehensive a complexion of the contemporary art scene from all four corners of the British Isles.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverNature morte : contemporary artists reinvigorate the still-life tradition / Michael Petry.
“Current twists on the still life reflect the tradition’s ongoing obsession with death in this survey featuring the work of John Currin, Renata Hegyi, Gabriel Orozco, Cy Twombly, and many others. For Petry (Installation Art in the New Millennium), director of London’s Museum of Contemporary Art, these images are considered nature morte (“dead nature”), as exemplified by the volume’s amusing lenticular cover of an exploding floral arrangement. After discussing the “mortal edge” present in the past five centuries of the still life, Petry traces broad historical changes alongside artistic developments, with selected contemporary works organized into chapters dedicated to “Flora,” “Food,” “House and Home,” “Fauna,” and “Death.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEl Greco : life and work – a new history / Fernando Marías; [translated from the Spanish by Paul Edson and Sander Berg].
“Domenikos Theotokopoulos, known to us as El Greco, was one of the seminal figures of the Spanish Golden Age. This magnificent volume, published to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the artist’s death, features superb new photographs of recently cleaned and restored paintings, revealing hitherto unknown facets of his art. He was a painter not only of religious subjects but also of idiosyncratic portraits executed in his own uniquely dramatic and expressionistic style.” (abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWalk the line : the art of drawing / Marc Valli & Ana Ibarra.
“Drawing has always been a fundamental skill and good drawing skills allowed artists to grasp the reality around them. At the turn of the millennium, however, the general impression was that with the wide availability of computers, scanners, digital cameras and image software, drawing would dwindle into a marginal activity. In fact, the opposite happened: the enthusiasm for digital imagery died down and the ability to draw has become a treasured skill. In the art world, attitudes to drawing have also changed. Drawing became a way of making a statement as an artist, of showing masterly skill something that up to then had been most commonly associated with painting. After centuries in the shadow of its more illustrious fine art relatives, drawing started to be appreciated for its own sake, as an art discipline, an end in itself, an art form.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverQueen: art & image
“This publication, in association with the National Portrait Gallery in London, follows the reign of Queen Elizabeth II documented in photographs and portraits by some of the most important 20th century artists.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverArt of D*Face: one man and his dog
“D*Face has been a leading figure in urban art for well over a decade. A contemporary of Banksy, he was at the forefront of the urban art movement, and has had a constant presence throughout its meteoric rise into popular culture. This long-awaited monograph shows the development of his career as an artist to date, encompassing his continuing street work, and the path that led him from the early beginnings of the street art genre to multiple sell-out solo exhibitions around the world. Containing previously unseen images of his working process and studio, as well as firsthand anecdotes, and the stories behind his extraordinary work, the book provides an insider’s view of one of Britain’s most important urban artists.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

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 May 2013

From the street to surrealism: an eclectic selection of amazing new art books for May 2013.

Syndetics book coverNew street art / Claude Crommelin (ClaudeLondon).
“Street art is part of every cityscape. By street art, we mean the crazy and wonderful stencils, paste-ups, paintings and little sculptures that decorate our urban landscape, catching our eyes and surprising us with their beauty, humour or pithy comment on society. It is, however, ephemeral and the work can disappear very quickly or be damaged by the elements or vandalism. Through his website, ClaudeLondon has documented thousands of works by artists active in the city.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverDrawing Surrealism / Leslie Jones ; with contributions by Isabelle Dervaux, Susan Laxton.
“An exhibition catalogue for a show at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art and the Morgan Library and Museum, this volume features a text by LACMA curator Jones and two accompanying essays by Dervaux and Laxton. The publisher describes it as the “first large-scale loan exhibition to focus on drawing as a prevailing form of expression for surrealist artists.” …” (CHOICE) (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe books that shaped art history : from Gombrich and Greenberg to Alpers and Krauss / edited by Richard Shone and John-Paul Stonard.
“Written by some of today’s leading art historians and curators, this new collection provides an invaluable road map of the field by comparing and reexamining canonical works of art history. From Émile Mâle’s magisterial study of thirteenth-century French art, first published in 1898, to Hans Belting’s provocative Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art, the book provides a concise and insightful overview of the history of art, told through its most enduring literature …” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverChagall : modern master / Simonetta Fraquelli ; with contributions by Angela Lampe … [et al.].
“Though his paintings of Russian village life, floating figures, flying cows, and roosters are instantly familiar, Marc Chagall (1887–1985) remains one of the least understood artists of his generation. Bringing together more than 60 paintings and a selection of works on paper, this lavishly illustrated book focuses on the artist’s time in Paris before World War I, his visit to Berlin and his exhibition there in 1914, and the years he spent in his native Russia around the time of the Revolution in 1917, all experiences that reinforced his highly personal visual language.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverTreasuring the gaze : intimate vision in late eighteenth-century eye miniatures / Hanneke Grootenboer.
“The end of the eighteenth century saw the start of a new craze in Europe: tiny portraits of single eyes that were exchanged by lovers or family members. Worn as brooches or pendants, these minuscule eyes served the same emotional need as more conventional mementoes, such as lockets containing a coil of a loved one’s hair. The fashion lasted only a few decades, and by the early 1800s eye miniatures had faded into oblivion. Unearthing these portraits in Treasuring the Gaze, Hanneke Grootenboer proposes that the rage for eye miniatures—and their abrupt disappearance—reveals a knot in the unfolding of the history of vision…” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverWhat was contemporary art? / Richard Meyer.
“Contemporary art in the early twenty-first century is often discussed as though it were a radically new phenomenon unmoored from history. Yet all works of art were once contemporary to the artist and culture that produced them. In What Was Contemporary Art? Richard Meyer reclaims the contemporary from historical amnesia, exploring episodes in the study, exhibition, and reception of early twentieth-century art and visual culture…” (adapted from amazon.com description)

New art books for August

A new biography of Titian, Lucian Freud portraits & British artists’ studios + surf & vintage graphics and NY street art:

Syndetics book coverTitian : his life / Sheila Hale.
“The first biography of Venice’s greatest artist since 1877 – a towering work which captures the genius of Titian. Devoted father and loyal friend, Titian was notorious for disregarding authority and was an international celebrity by his late fifties… Sheila Hale not only examines his life, both personal and professional, but how his art affected his contemporaries and how it influences artists today” – (adapted from Amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverLucian Freud : portraits / [introduction and essay by] Sarah Howgate ; with [an essay and interviews by] Michael Auping ; and [a memoir by] John Richardson.
“‘Everything is autobiographical and everything is a portrait, even if it’s only a chair.’ Portraits were central to the work of Lucian Freud. Working only from life, the artist claimed ‘I could never put anything into a picture that wasn’t actually there in front of me.’ Lucian Freud Portraits surveys his portraits and figure paintings from across his long career. Drawing together the finest portraits from public and private collections around the world, the book explores Freud’s stylistic development and technical virtuosity. A series of previously unpublished interviews conducted by Michael Auping between May 2009 and January 2011 reveal the artist’s thoughts on the complex relationship between artist and sitter, the particular challenges of painting nudes and self-portraits, and his views on other painters he admired” – (adapted from Amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverSanctuary : Britain’s artists and their studios / editor/interviews, Hossein Amirsadeghi ; executive editor, Maryam Homayoun Eisler ; contributors, Iwona Blazwick, Richard Cork, Tom Morton ; photography, Robin Friend.
“”Sanctuary: British Artists and their Studios” gives a rare and privileged insight to the studios and inspirations of nearly 120 of Britains greatest living artists working today, both in Britain and abroad. Sanctuary’s stellar cast of artists encompasses many different ways of thinking about and making art. This lavish, large-format book brims with specially commissioned photographs portraits, images at work, places of inspiration and incisive interviews: the artists open their minds as much as their studio doors. The book is full of insights, revelations and thoughts on the modern art world and contemporary art practice, giving a vivid sense of what it means to be an artist at work today.” – (adapted from Amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverSurf graphics / introduction by Jim Phillips ; compiled by Yahya El-Droubie ; text by Ian C. Parliament.
“From vintage surf art to the latest designs, this collection is filled with brilliant color, energy, and vibe. It features the top 30 artists working on the surf graphic scene, each with a detailed biography, as well as the same eye-popping production values of Kustom Graphics and Kustom Graphics II. Of course, there are plenty of California artists making their marks on the surf art scene, including Shawn Dickinson (Palmdale), Damian Fulton (Los Angeles), Tom “Big Toe” Laura (Irvine), Jim Phillips (Santa Cruz), Rick Rietveld (Newport Beach), and Keith Weesner (Thousand Oaks). Brad Parker lives in Hawaii, while Thor splits his time between California and Hawaii. Pat Grant and Marty Schneider are among Australian artists on the scene, while European artists include PG Artworks (Sweden), Mik Baro (Spain), and Thorsten Hasenkamm (Germany).” – (adapted from Amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverModern vintage Illustration / Martin Dawber ; [foreword by Stephen Bayley].
“Past is prologue in this stunning survey of vintage-inspired illustrations that employ classic styles of artistic expression for up-to-date effects. Organized by historical or cultural period, the book features hundreds of modern retro images, including pieces that incorporate the geometric beauty of Art Deco, the bold architectural lines of Soviet constructivist posters, and the graphic design of Blue Note’s record sleeves. There are new perspectives on photorealism, comic art, and punk, as well. Hundreds of artists have contributed to this witty, exciting, and international collection.” – (adapted from Amazon.com description)

Syndetics book coverWe own the night : the art of the Underbelly Project : New York Mar 2009-Aug 2010 / curators, Workhorse, PAC ; editors, Emeht Agency, Jiae Kim, John Lee.
“Having discovered a never-completed subway station in Brooklyn, two street artists-Workhorse and PAC-brought in artists from around the world to reclaim the space with original artwork. From the spring of 2009 to the summer of the following year, the Underbelly, as it came to be called, became a subterranean gallery, accessible only to those few who knew where to find it … This book itself then becomes a testament to art for its own sake, an artifact of a project that posed the provocative question: “If no one will see it, will it still be important?” Color photos. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.” – (adapted from Publisher Weekly summary)

3+3: new contemporary fine, street & graphic art books

Cheer yourself up this cold August with these hot new art books!

Syndetics book coverContemporary art in North America / [edited by Phoebe Adler and Duncan McCorquodale].
“… a unique and timely survey into art deriving from the United States and Canada today… an insightful examination into the styles, perceptions and cultures of this region and its art, articulating varied arguments and opinions that guide the reader to further discussion … “(Amazon.com)

Syndetics book cover50 British artists you should know / Linda Hawksley.
“Lucinda Hawksley’s engaging survey compares the skill of the Elizabethan miniaturists and the magnificence of the High Victorians with the grit of post-war British modernists and the best of the Young British Artists, whose fearless approach to controversial themes make them worthy inheritors of the great traditions of British art” (Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverUnleashed : contemporary art from Turkey / editor, Hossein Amirsadeghi ; essays, Ali Akay … [et al.].
“A sumptuously illustrated A-Z of over ninety of the most exciting Turkish contemporary artists, it contains many exclusive interviews with some of the biggest names in Turkish art, as well as such up-and-coming artists as Leyla Gediz, Emre Huner and Ali Kazmal …” (Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverI heart design : remarkable graphic design selected by designers, illustrators, and critics / [edited by] Steven Heller.
“… designs as selected by 80 prominent graphic designers, typographers, teachers, scholars, writers … Design triggers something in all of us that may be solely aesthetic or decidedly content-driven, but in the final analysis, we are drawn to it through the heart…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIllustration now! Portraits / ed. Julius Wiedemann.
“The field of illustration has flourished over the last decade, with professionals working both by computer and by hand… The book gathers together the exclusive (and frequently unpublished) portrait work of over 80 illustrators from all over the world … including Aaron Jasinski, Alex Gross, André Carrilho, Andrea Wicklund, and Anita Kunz.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOut of sight : urban art / abandoned spaces / [photography by RomanyWG ; words, David Stuart, Patrick Potter].
“Not all art craves attention, some of it hides in the secret places… A diverse range of artists find themselves attracted to these twilight zones and in recent years something of a movement has come to light …” (Amazon.com)