Talented brushstrokes: New painting books

Spanning from early Renaissance in the Netherlands to American Modernism, ‘The Final Painting’ examines the world’s most adored paintings to uncover the mark they left, as their artist’s final contribution to the world. Jump from the end of famous artists’ careers back to the beginning, with the colourful memoir of rouge Parisian art dealer Berthe Weill (‘Pow! Right in the eye!’), who represented the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani when they were still unknowns. There’s also a first-hand account of the British Surrealists and a new survey on the iconic oeuvre of Frida Kahlo.

Closer to home, we celebrate two of Aotearoa’s contemporary greats, in Robin White’s career survey, and Val Raymond’s paintings from her famed exhibition ‘Taupōnui-a-Tia – A Celebration of Feather and Fibre’. Enjoy these enticing new painting books that combine art history and personal narrative to critically deconstruct the famed masterpieces that have shaped the art world.

The final painting : the last works of the great masters / Rynck, Patrick de
The Final Painting collects fresh insights into 30 of the world’s greatest painters and their last works in a highly readable book, beginning with Jan van Eyck and ending with Pablo Picasso. Including Bellini, Titian, Caravaggio, El Greco, Rubens, Artemisia Gentileschi, Cézanne, Klimt, Renoir, Modigliani, Munch, Mondrian, Kahlo and Hopper.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Pow! Right in the eye! : thirty years behind the scenes of modern French painting / Weill, Berthe
“This is the colourful memoir of the brilliant, eccentric Parisian art dealer Berthe Weill, who championed many of the emerging masters of modern art with her uncanny eye for talent. In this, she was radical and pioneering; making the first sales in Paris for Picasso and Matisse, and giving Modigliani the only solo show in his lifetime. Weill also promoted the work of women artists, and her memoir details her struggles against sexism and anti-Semitism in the Parisian art world. (Adapted from  Catalogue)

Robin White : something is happening here / Farrar, Sarah
“An assessment of Robin White’s remarkable 50 years as an artist, including fresh perspectives by 24 writers and interviewees from Australia, the Pacific and Aotearoa New Zealand. Celebrating her status as one of our most important artists, this book includes more than 150 artworks, from early watercolour and drawings through to the exquisite recent collaborations with Pasifika artists, as well as photographs from throughout Robin White’s career.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Modern : genius, madness, and one tumultuous decade that changed art forever / Hook, Philip
“An exploration of the revolutionary birth of Modern art in the tumultuous decade brought to a shattering close by WWI. Modern covers colour and Fauvism, Expressionism and angst, Primitivism, sex and sublimation, Anarchism, self alienation, suicides, death, Abstraction, the Blaue Reiter, Futurism, academicism and conservative taste, until the finale of August 1914- when art and regular life, suspended.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The British surrealists / Morris, Desmond
“Feted for their idiosyncratic and imaginative works, the British surrealists marked a pivotal moment in the history of modern art. Artist Desmond Morris draws on memories and experiences to present the intriguing life stories and complex love lives of this wild and curious set of artists. Morris brings foibles and frailties to the fore in this vivid, witty account, taking us back in time, to a generation that allowed its creative unconscious to drive their passions in both art and life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Frida Kahlo : the masterworks / Tajonar, Héctor
“A rich overview of the fascinating life and career of internationally renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, featuring the artist’s complex and diverse paintings, a series of thoughtful essays about her oeuvre, and a detailed illustrated chronology. As a woman artist who confronted many taboo subjects–and herself–head-on, Kahlo produced groundbreaking work that shifted the terrain of the art world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Heritage paintings : Taupōnui-a-Tia, New Zealand / Raymond, Val
“Val Raymond was best known for her portraiture and Central North Island landscapes. Inventing new watercolour techniques led to her artistic transformation during the 1990s – painting exquisite abstract expressions that combine unusually different aspects of New Zealand heritage: landscape and legend: birdlife, history and environment ; natural history, Maori art and culture.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A feast for your eyes: New art books

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what kind of story does a book like Adam Green’s Affinities tell?  It’s an art piece in itself, made up almost solely of images (taken from the last 2000 years of human history) which are presented with no written explanation. Such an approach can be quite daunting. But Affinities invites you to find your own meaning – the pictures are in constant dialogue with the images on the other pages, all of them chosen with curator Adam Green’s eagle eye, and as a whole they take the reader on a dreamlike journey, relating the unrelated and encouraging us to see things anew. All it asks of us is to look, to really look. From that point on, any reaction – whether confusion or surprise, disgust or joy – is the right one.

There’s a similar visual journey in England on Fire, except this time the images are accompanied by evocative landscape writing. As to the other visual delights and art books new to the library this month, we also have the vibrant Paradise Camp about the work of artist Yuki Kihara, a journey into Medieval art with The Story of the Bayeux Tapestry, and a cross-cultural anthology in Women, Aging and Art. 

Affinities : a journey through images from the Public Domain Review / Green, Adam
“Drawing on a decade of archival immersion at The Public Domain Review, an online journal and not-for-profit project dedicated to exploring curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature, and ideas, this volume has been assembled from a vast array of sources: from manuscripts to museum catalogs, and ship logs to primers on Victorian magic. The images are arranged in a single captivating sequence that unfurls according to a dreamlike logic, through a play of visual echoes and evolving thematic threads–hatching eggs paired with early Burmese world maps, marbled endpapers meet tattooed stowaways, and fireworks explode beside deep sea coral.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Paradise camp / Kihara, Shigeyuki
“Interdisciplinary artist Yuki Kihara is the first Pasifika and first Fa’afafine artist to be presented by New Zealand at the prestigious 59th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. With a groundbreaking exhibition of new work that addresses some of the most pressing issues of our time, Kihara’s work interrogates and dismantles gender roles, consumerism, (mis)representation, and colonial legacies in the Pacific. Edited by Natalie King, who has commissioned provocative essays by contributors from around the world, this publication contextualizes Kihara’s works from her entire career, which puncture and expose, queer and question dominant narratives, turning history on its head.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

England on fire : a visual journey through Albion’s psychic landscape / Ellcock, Stephen
“This is a book about English art like no other. Forget the tired rogues’ gallery of lords and ladies, forget the tall ships and haywains. These images cut to the heart of England’s psychic landscapes to portray an Albion unhinged, where magic and rebellion and destruction are the horses to which the country is hitched. Here you will find depictions of ancient trackways, chalk carvings and standing stones, of animal-masked community rituals, of streets set ablaze in protest, of occult dreams and psychedelic prophecies.  The selection of images is accompanied by short texts by Mat Osman, poetic renderings of a spectral isle.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Women, aging, and art : a crosscultural anthology
“The thirteen contributions to this edited volume explore a broad range of images of old women, ranging from medieval “old wives” to contemporary re-imaginations of shamans and witches and empowering self-portraits. Works from medieval Europe to colonial-time Polynesia, present West Africa, Japan, and the Americas, in a multiplicity of media are explored in detail. These studies of varied representations of “old women” offer fresh perspectives and an engaging dialogue about society’s values and preconceptions regarding the wisdom of our elders and the “golden years” in different times and cultures.” (Amazon UK)

The story of the Bayeux tapestry : unraveling the Norman conquest / Musgrove, David
“Political intrigue and treachery, heroism and brutal violence, victory and defeat – all this is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, an epic account of one of the pivotal episodes in English history embroidered on a strip of linen. Many mysteries and questions still surround this unique embroidery and not all is as it might appear at first glance. Who made it, when, why, where and what for? David Musgrove and Michael Lewis skilfully lead us through the full story of the Tapestry and the history it relates, providing illuminating insight into a world of fascinating details that might otherwise be overlooked or their significance missed.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Muse : uncovering the hidden figures behind art history’s masterpieces / Millington, Ruth
“The fascinating true stories of thirty incredible muses-and their role in some of art history’s most well-known masterpieces.” (Catalogue)

Artists and their worlds : New art books

This month’s picks feature the worlds of artists and their influences — both the mundane and everyday, as well as the times they lived in. From the intimacy of objects arranged in still life, to the influence of their contemporaries and the wider world and time they lived in, there’s plenty to be discovered here. Have a browse!

Van Gogh and the artists he loved / Naifeh, Steven
“To us, Van Gogh’s paintings look utterly unique. His vivid palates and wildly interpretive portraits are unmistakably his — yet however revolutionary his style may have been, it was actually built on a strong foundation of paintings by other artists, both his contemporaries and those who came before him. Now, drawing on Van Gogh’s own thoughtful and often poetic comments about the artists he venerated, Steven Naifeh gives a gripping account of his deep immersion in their work.” (Catalogue)

Frida Kahlo : her universe.
“The iconic Mexican painter as seen through over 300 archival items, from her wardrobe to her personal art collection This compendium presents the rich diversity of themes, ideas, concepts and emotions generated around two fundamental, iconic figures of modern Mexico: painter Frida Kahlo and her husband, muralist Diego Rivera. More than 300 images from the archives of the Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City offer readers a glimpse of Kahlo’s distinctive wardrobe and the impressive collections of popular and pre-Hispanic art she assembled with Rivera, her connection with photography and the history of La casa azul, her beloved cobalt-blue home that now serves as the museum’s main building.” (Catalogue)

The radical potter : the life and times of Josiah Wedgwood / Hunt, Tristram
“From one of Britain’s leading historians and the director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, a scintillating biography of Josiah Wedgwood, the celebrated eighteenth-century potter, entrepreneur, and abolitionist” (Catalogue)

This dark country : women artists, still life and intimacy in the early Twentieth century / Birrell, Rebecca
“Lemons gleam in a bowl. Flowers fan out softly in a vase. A door swings open in a sparsely furnished room. What is contained in a still life – and what falls out of the frame? For women artists in the early twentieth century, including Ethel Sands, Nina Hamnett, Vanessa Bell and Gwen John, who lived in and around the Bloomsbury Group, this art form was a conduit for their lives, their rebellions, their quiet loves for men and women. Gluck, who challenged the framing of her gender and her art, painted flowers arranged by the woman she loved; Dora Carrington, a Slade School graduate, recorded eggs on a table at Tidmarsh Mill, where she built a richly fulfilling if delicate life with Lytton Strachey. But for every artist we remember, there is one we have forgotten; who leaves only elusive traces; whose art was replaced by being a mother or wife; whose remaining artworks lie dusty in archives or attics…” (Catalogue)

Verrocchio, sculptor and painter of Renaissance Florence
“A comprehensive survey of the work of this most influential Florentine artist and teacher. Andrea del Verrocchio (c. 1435-1488) was one of the most versatile and inventive artists of the Italian Renaissance. He created art across media, from his spectacular sculptures and paintings to his work in goldsmithing, architecture, and engineering. His expressive, confident drawings provide a key point of contact between sculpture and painting. He led a vibrant workshop where he taught young artists who later became some of the greatest painters of the period, including Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Lorenzo di Credi, and Domenico Ghirlandaio. This beautifully illustrated book presents a comprehensive survey of Verrocchio’s art.” (Catalogue)

Books in every room : Interior design for 2022

Picture of a cute, open plan lounge

“The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live. Albert Hadley

It’s a fresh new year, so why not give your home a fresh new look? Would you like to incorporate your family history into your living spaces? Maybe you’d like some ideas for thriving in your apartment? The below booklist is a great place to start if you’re embarking on an interior design project in 2022!

Need even more inspiration? Head over to our online magazine collection through Libby, which gives library members free access to an extensive Home & Garden collection.

Home stories : design ideas for making a house a home / Leggett, Kim
“Learn how to create rooms filled with warmth, meaning, and your own unique story of home. Kim Leggett’s first book, City Farmhouse Style, was a big hit. Now Kim is back with the welcoming interiors her fans crave and a no-rules approach that is all about using what you love to create rooms that tell your personal story.  (Catalogue)

Kelly Hoppen’s essential style solutions for every home / Hoppen, Kelly
“Kelly Hoppen, multi-award-winning designer and TV personality, shares her essential style solutions that will transform your home. Kelly knows what works, and here she shows you how to do it by bringing together creative ideas and inspiration alongside a wealth of professional know-how, practical advice and cost-effective style solutions that can work for every home, big or small.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The new mindful home and how to make it yours / Thornhill, Joanna
“How do you create a space that calms and revives you? Thornhill cuts through the fads to offer practical solutions to home-based problems. She shows you how to create supportive room layouts, consider the mindful effects of colour, and embrace natural and sustainable elements in your home. — adapted from back cover” (Catalogue)

A blissful nest : designing a stylish and well-loved home / Dempsey, Rebekah
“In Blissful Nest, celebrated interior designer Rebekah Dempsey offers hundreds of fresh and attainable design ideas to show you how to discover your interior style and create a home that best reflects your personality and the way you live”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Workstead : interiors of beauty and necessity.
“Workstead designs one-of-a-kind interiors and pieces that balance beauty with necessity, and this book presents a special blend of their tour-de-force historic renovations and innovative yet elegant new constructions.'”–Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue)

Victoria Hagan : live now / Hagan, Victoria
“As an acclaimed interior designer and member of the AD100 and the Interior Design Hall of Fame, Victoria Hagan had achieved the highest pinnacle of success in her field. But when 2020 arrived, she found herself, like all of us, at home, seeing her life and her space with fresh eyes. The result is this book–a creative manifesto and a life-affirming look at the nature of home, and how it connects and calms us, comforts and nourishes us.” (Catalogue)

Books do furnish a room : display, organize, store / Geddes-Brown, Leslie
“As all book lovers know, a collection of books affords not only access to endless pleasure and knowledge, but also, when skilfully deployed around the home, the opportunity to create a multitude of decorative impressions. In this beautifully illustrated guide –  self-confessed bibliophile Leslie Geddes-Brown offers inspirational yet practical ideas about how to make the most of books in every room.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Living in tiny homes : big ideas for small spaces / Hellweg, Marion
“Practical tips, design ideas and storage solutions for small homes & tiny houses”–Page 1 of cover.” (Catalogue)


Upcoming interview with photographer Professor Anne Noble

Professor Anne Noble
Anne in beesuit (All photographs are Copyrighted by Anne Noble and Massey University press and are reproduced with kind permission.)

Professor Anne Noble is one of the most highly regarded and acclaimed art photographers and conceptual artists working in Aotearoa / New Zealand.

Professor Noble’s photographic and conceptual works have gained her a major international reputation. Her work has been exhibited globally and is held in numerous national and international collections.

In 2003 Professor Noble was awarded the Order of Merit for services to photography in New Zealand. In 2009 she received a New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate Award and was awarded the Massey University individual research medal. In 2013 Anne was appointed Distinguished Professor of Fine Art.

Professor Noble’s previous bodies of work include pieces examining Antarctica, her own daughter’s mouth, pieces on the significance of memory and imagination to personal and cultural narratives of place and belonging and most recently Forests.

Her practice spans various mediums from moving image, still photography, sound, and installation work.

Bruissement_05_003 (All photographs are Copyrighted by Anne Noble and Massey University press and are reproduced with kind permission.)

We visited her recent exhibition at the Bartley & Company Art Gallery to talk to Anne about the exhibition and the associated book Conversātiō – in the company of bees which has just been published by Massey university press. It’s a beautiful publication and contains lots of stunning, and occasionally intense works, all imagery from Ann’s various Bee related exhibitions. And features illuminating essays to accompany the pictures from several guest Essayists.

Bees have long fascinated Professor Noble and been in various aspect and guises at the core of many of her exhibitions over recent years.

Professor Noble herself is a beekeeper, and has studied their history and culture, and recently her work has looked closely at their uncertain future due to climate change and ecosystem collapse.

We were over the moon when Professor Noble very kindly agreed to a filmed Q and A interview with Wellington City Libraries.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Massey university press, Bartley & Company Art Gallery in Wellington and especially Professor Anne Noble herself for her time and enlightening and thoughtfully replies to our questions.

Click here for more information on Professor Anne Noble’s practice.

Visit Bartley & Company Art Gallery for more information. Including Anne’s forthcoming exhibition  In a forest dark… (25 November – 18 December 2021 )

Dead Bee Portrait#14 (All photographs are Copyrighted by Anne Noble and Massey University press and are reproduced with kind permission.)

Conversatio : In the company of bees / Noble, Anne

“Lavishly illustrated book to accompany Professor Anne Noble’s Bee themed exhibitions staged internationally over the course of several years. With guest essayists commenting and illuminating various points and themes explored in these bodies of work.”

(Adapted from Catalogue )



Slow release : recent photography from New Zealand : Fiona Amundsen, Gavin Hipkins, Anne Noble, Fiona Pardington, Peter Peryer, Ann Shelton, Yvonne Todd

Catalogue of an exhibition at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen, Victoria 10 August – 22 September 2002; the Gippsland Art Gallery Sale 16 November – 15 December 2002; and the Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington, 2003.Supported by the Chartwell Trust. And including bibliographical references.” (Adapted from Catalogue )

Surrealist Art at Te Papa: interview with curator Lizzie Bisley

Surrealist Art at Te Papa

The Te Papa Surrealist exhibition is now open and affords visitors the (ultra-rare) chance to see 180 surrealist masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. The exhibition includes sculpture, furniture, paintings, graphic design, prints, and photography.

As a special accompaniment for this exceptional exhibition, we recently had the pleasure of interviewing its curator Lizzie Bisley (Curator Modern Art at Te Papa) in conjunction with the Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM.

Below is the podcast of that interview for your enjoyment:

The Te Papa’s Surrealist exhibition runs until 31 October in Te Papa’s gallery— (Please note, charges apply.)

This exhibition features major works by all key surrealist artists such as Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Marcel Duchamp, Leonora Carrington, and Man Ray. To get you fully informed before you go along to the exhibition, visit the library, and browse or borrow from our extensive collection of Surrealism on our Catalogue. 


Landscapes and places that inspired great art: new art books in May

Need some visual inspiration? The topics of this month’s new art books include: 25 famous and forgotten artistic destinations around the world, contextualised by art historian Susie Hodge, the history of graffiti and street art movements internationally, a guide to block printing, and more. Have a browse and enjoy!

Artistic places / Hodge, Susie
“Explore the landscapes and places that inspired great art: find peace in Monet’s lily-filled garden oasis, climb Mount Fuji on a printmaker’s pilgrimage, sail with Gauguin to the South Pacific to stretch your imagination, or contemplate light and the changing seasons on Chelsea Embankment. Artistic Places is a stunningly illustrated, visionary guide for seekers of beauty, rare tales and cultural riches. Find yourself instantly transported to the places where great artists have sought refuge, found their inspiration and changed the course of art history forever.” (Catalogue)

Art in the streets
“The most comprehensive book to survey the colorful history of graffiti and street art movements internationally. Forty years ago, graffiti in New York evolved from elementary mark-making into an important art form. By the end of the 1980s, it had been documented in books and films that were seen around the world, sparking an international graffiti movement. This original edition, now back in print after several years, considers the rise of New York graffiti and the international scenes it inspired–from Los Angeles to Sao Paulo to Paris to Tokyo.” (Catalogue)

Art sleeves : album covers by artists / Burkeman, DB
“Art Sleeves is a time capsule of visual art and music culture as shown through the most important record covers designed by visual artists and graphic designers in the past forty years. This tightly curated collection of covers chosen includes works with significant cultural impact as well as collaborations that themselves created cultural fascination. The eclectic roster of visual artist-musician collaborations presented spans art and musical genres as well as generations, including Ryan McGinley for Sigur Rós, Kara Walker for Arto Lindsay, Peter Saville for Joy Division, Barbara Kruger for Growing Up Skipper, Jeff Koons for Lady Gaga, Tauba Auerbach for Glasser, and Stanley Donwood for Radiohead, to name a few. From postmodernist paintings and minimalism to collage and photography, as well as New Wave, emo, pop, and punk, the albums chosen present a bright and rich visual and cultural history.” (Catalogue)

House of print : a modern block printer’s take on design, colour and pattern / Mahon, Molly
“The ancient art of block printing has stood the test of time. From the first bolt of inspiration, to the thrilling reveal of the pattern, printmaker Molly Mahon shows you how to develop your own style and turn unique designs into beautiful pieces for the home.” (Catalogue)

Pottery : 20 mindful makes to reconnect head, heart & hands / Davidson, Lucy
“Learn how to create simple, modern makes — all without the need for a wheel or kiln. Featuring basic techniques and simple clay recipes, Lucy Davidson provides ideas for making and decorating 20 playful pottery pieces with clear step-by-step instructions and life-affirming mindful quotes, accompanied by clean photography and contemporary illustrations. From plant hanger pots to tealight holders, festive decorations to serving dishes — there’s plenty to enhance your home and your wellbeing.” (Catalogue)

Ken Done : art, design, life / Bell, Amber Creswell
“At once ad man and artist, designer and entrepreneur, Ken Done has achieved what few others have. His signature style has graced ad campaigns and art cars, magazine covers and doona covers, public spaces and landmark cultural events, but it is his unabating passion for painting that sustains him. For more than forty years, Done has chronicled the Australian way, documenting how it feels to be Australian with an exuberance that is immediately recognisable. Ken Done: Art Design Life documents Done’s expansive art and design practice over four decades and provides a fascinating insight into the artist and his oeuvre.” (Catalogue)