Photography – mostly, black & white and subdued. Some garish elements allowed.

In this month’s picks the contemporary collections seem at times to borrow from the historical in their style and choice of topic. A photographic depiction of la dolce vita brings some colour, lightness and frivolity to an otherwise mostly monochromatic selection. A how-to-do manual also delves into early printmaking processes, showing readers how to create modern-day versions of pre-digital style prints.

syndetics-lcMan Ray – Portraits
“The artist May Ray (1890–1976) initially taught himself photography in order to reproduce his own works of art, but it became one of his preferred mediums. As a contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements in Paris during the 1920s, Man Ray was perfectly placed to make defining images of his avant-garde contemporaries, including Jean Cocteau, Peggy Guggenheim, and Gertrude Stein. Man Ray also photographed his friends and lovers, among them Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin), Lee Miller, who helped him discover the solarization printing process, and Ady Fidelin. Man Ray continued to take portrait photographs throughout his career, including little-known images from 1940s Hollywood, and of stars such as Ava Gardner and Catherine Deneuve taken during the 1950s and 1960s.
An essential reference on Man Ray’s life and work, this book includes an introduction by Terence Pepper and essay by Marina Warner exploring the artist’s creativity and appetite for innovation and experimentation. Complete with first-hand testimonies from the artist’s sitters and over 200 beautifully reproduced images, this handsome volume provides a survey of the finest portraits from one of the most inventive photographic artists of the 20th century.” (book cover)

syndetics-lcThe Evening Hours
“Ben Cauchi’s photographs seem to arrive from another time and place, yet are thoroughly of the present. His use of the mid-nineteenth-century wet collodion photographic process is a means to question and undermine the certainties that we continue to invest in the photographic image. Cauchi’s is a subtractive practice, dwelling on absence, lulls, the uncertain, the opaque, and the fleeting elements of life. His shadowy images fixed on metal and glass explore the psychological dimensions of viewing and the nature of photography itself by continually moving within and expanding the grey areas between truth and untruth, presence and absence, the empirical and the incorporeal, seeing and believing. The Evening Hours brings together new writing on Cauchi’s practice with reproductions of over eighty of his photographs. The artist has played an active role in this process, returning to his own archive just as he trawls through photographic histories to select, re-present and sequence a decade of work. Ben Cauchi was born in 1974 in Auckland, New Zealand. He became interested in photography in 1997 and has exhibited regularly since 2000. His work is included in every major public collection in New Zealand, as well as in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Australia. In 2007 he was awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago, Dunedin. Cauchi was an Arts Foundation of New Zealand New Generation Award recipient in 2011 and in the following year was awarded the 2012 Creative New Zealand Berlin Visual Artists Residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. This is his first monograph.”  (Syndetics)

syndetics-lcIt’s true that it’s been a long time since I thought about turtles.
Published to document the large-scale retrospective of major works by Roni Horn at the Sammlung Goetz in Munich showing until 31 August 2013, this catalogue does not seek  to prescribe a linear narrative but offers a variety of situations, locations, and positions from which to experience and see the works according to many different viewpoints, moods, and attitudes. The various essays are intended to foster and strengthen what the exhibition itself provokes: taking a stance and seeing the work of Roni Horn from ever changing standpoints as one of the outstanding bodies of work in contemporary art, encompassing sculpture, drawing, photography, language, and installation. (Adapted from publisher)

syndetics-lcSlim Aarons, la dolce vita ” It was in post-war Rome that Slim Aarons realized his professional mission in ilfe: to photograph, in his famous phrase, “attractive people who were doing attractive things in attractive places.” The photographer had survived World War II, witnessing the fall of Tobruk, the Anzio invasion and the liberation of Rome, and had come away from it with a distinct aversion to war, a career as a photojournalist, and a passion for Italy. After leaving the army for a brief stint in Hollywood, he relocated to Rome when Life magazine opened a bureau there. In these luminous 1940s, when Rome and the rest of the world were coming back to life, Slim Aarons discovered his great subject: the cavalcade of high society and aristocracy and celebrity – and the settings where this special class of people displayed themselves to best effect. The beautiful people who flocked to Rome in those years would become Slim Aarons’ principal subjects for the next fifty years. Tracing a journey from the 1940s to the 1990s, this lavish fourth volume paints the cultural geography of fifty years in Italy and distills one photographer’s vision of la dolce vita.” (Adapted from book cover)

syndetics-lcDennis Hopper – The Lost Album
“Lying hidden away in Dennis Hopper’s home until their discovery months after the artist’s death in 2010, this collection of spectacular photographs, exhibited only once in 1969-70 at the Fort Worth Art Center Museum, is a testament to Hopper’s prolific and enormous talent behind the camera. These photographs are spontaneous, intimate, poetic, observant, and decidedly political. While some are portraits of figures within Hopper’s circle of actor, artist, musician, and poet friends – including Jane Fonda, Paul Newman, and Robert Rauschenberg – they also include images from his extensive travels in Los Angeles, New York, London, Mexico, and Peru. Hopper’s abiding support of the Civil Rights movement and social justice is evident in his shots from the march on Selma and Harlem street scenes. In images of beauty and stillness he transfers Abstract Expressionism into the artistic language of photography. Throughout this stunning volume Hopper’s sensitive, keenly observant eye shines through, making it clear that he was a deeply committed chronicler of the events that were unfolding around him.” (From amazon.com)

syndetics-lcPhotography and the american civil war
“Six hundred thousand lives were lost between 1861 and 1865, making the conflict between North and South the nation’s deadliest war. If the “War Between the States” was the test of the young republic’s commitment to its founding precepts, it was also a watershed in photographic history, as the camera recorded the epic, heartbreaking narrative from beginning to end – providing those on the home front, for the first time, with immediate visual access to the horrors of the battlefield.
Photography and the American Civil War features both familiar and rarely seen images that include haunting battlefield landscapes strewn with bodies, studio portraits of armed Confederate and Union soldiers (sometimes in the same family) preparing to meet their destiny, rare multi-panel panoramas of Gettysburg and Richmond, languorous camp scenes showing exhausted troops in repose, diagnostic medical studies of wounded soldiers who survived the war’s last bloody battles, and portraits of both Abraham Lincoln and his assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Published on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg (1863), this beautifully produced book features Civil War photographs by George Barnard, Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, Timothy O’Sullivan, and many others.” (book cover)

syndetics-lcThe New Art of photographing nature
“A new spin on the classic guide to composing stunning images of nature and wildlife
What is the difference between a good picture and a great one? In this fully revised edition of the classic bestseller The Art of Photographing Nature, master photographer Art Wolfe and former Audubon photo editor Martha Hill team up to explain the art of composing images of enduring beauty. Against a backdrop of more than 250 photographs of nature, wildlife, and landscapes, they share insights and advice about what works and what doesn’t, and how small changes can take an image from ordinary to extraordinary. Throughout, all-new tips from digital imaging expert Tim Grey show readers how to make the most of digital technology, whether by choosing the right color space, understanding sensor size, or removing distracting elements in post-processing. The result is an invaluable collection of expert advice updated for the modern age.” (From amazon.com)

syndetics-lcThe Last Layer
“In The Last Layer, the follow-up to Digital Alchemy, her successful book on alternative printmaking techniques, Bonny Lhotka teaches how to make prints that take their inspiration from early printmaking processes. In this book, Lhotka shows readers step-by-step how to create modern-day versions of anthotypes, cyanotypes, tintypes, and daguerreotypes as well as platinum and carbon prints. She also reinvents the photogravure and Polaroid transfer processes and explores and explains groundbreaking techniques for combining digital images with traditional monotype, collograph, and etching press prints. By applying these classic techniques to modern images, readers will be able to recreate the look of historical printmaking techniques and explore the limits of their creative voice. Best of all, the only equipment required is a desktop inkjet printer that uses pigment inks, and a handful of readily available materials and supplies–not the toxic chemicals once required to perform these very same processes.
Leveraging her training as a traditional painter and printmaker, Bonny Lhotka brings new innovations and inventions that combine the best of centuries of printmaking technique with modern technology to create unique works of art and photography. After years of experimentation and development, these new processes allow alternative photographers, traditional printer makers, and 21st century digital artists to express their creative voice in ways never before possible.” (From amazon.com)

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)