book reviews

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Photo book reviews — Araki and The Last Cosmology

[Evan contrasts two photo books by Japanese photographers who are just seven years apart in age, but whose approaches are markedly different. Want to buy one or both of the books on Amazon? You can support the artblog by shopping from our Amazon Smile link. And thanks! — the artblog editors] New books from vaunted artists Post-war Japanese photography has enjoyed a reputation for being provocative and alien to the Western eye, a boiling concoction of a reeling political environment and shifting cultural landscapes. The photographers born of the sometimes repressive and often confrontational years following the Japanese defeat in ... More » »

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Book review — Mika Rottenberg, Minimalism in ’60s Germany, and “the contemporary”

[Andrea offers concise reviews of three recent art books. If you’d like to put your idea of “contemporary art” in context, check out Richard Meyer’s tome. Those interested in video artist Mika Rottenberg will enjoy a wonderfully designed exploration of her work; and if you weren’t aware of the depth of German Minimalist work in the ’60s, now’s your chance to get up to speed. And remember, if you’re book buying on Amazon, please shop through Artblog’s Amazon Smile account and support your favorite little art blog. — the artblog editors] Mika Rottenberg: The Production of Luck (Gregory R. Miller & ... More » »

Painting

Books that have crossed my desk

[Andrea offers brief reviews of two books she recently enjoyed, each very different. One focuses on how light–in its many incarnations–appears and is used as a tool in African Diaspora visual practices; the other on artists’ interest in history and its artifacts. — the artblog editors] Krista Thompson, Shine: The Visual Economy of Light in African Diasporic Aesthetic Practice (Duke University Press, Durham: 2015) ISBN 978-0-8223-5807-7 Krista Thompson explores the common use of light, shine, and “bling bling” as a means of self-fashioning and collective agency by African-American, Bahamian, and Jamaican youth culture. She also traces these effects in the work of contemporary ... More » »

People by river

Two top-notch photography books to grab for yourself or a friend

[Evan offers detailed reviews of two books for the photography enthusiast in your life–one an examination of how we interact and ascribe meaning to images, and the other a revival of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s famed “photography bible”. — the artblog editors] Spring is finally (maybe) here, and with it comes a time to look at the world around us again as new. Fitting, then, that two books on photography have recently come into my hands and eyes, asking me to see and think more actively in very different ways. One is a contemporary and theoretical analysis of the current state of ... More » »

Artwork

Two books on Matisse and Picasso from the Museum of Modern Art

[Andrea praises two recent volumes detailing Matisse’s cut-out works, and 15 of Picasso’s early Cubist works, respectively, and enjoys the depth provided by the second book’s e-book format. — the artblog editors] Art historians working in museums, as opposed to those in academe, are always aware that the artworks they deal with are things–embodied, resulting from a series of decisions made by the artist, and subject to subsequent change. The literature on art, both academic and in museum catalogs, has not always acknowledged this physical reality, but fortunately it is becoming more common. Two recent publications from the Museum of ... More » »

The artist, surrounded by one of her sculptures, photo: L. Falquet, Paris: Anderson.

Books on Claire Falkenstein and Marie Zimmermann, successful women who should be better known

[Andrea reviews beautifully designed books on two female artists whose work, while successful during their lives, has largely been overlooked since. — the artblog editors] Claire Falkenstein Claire Falkenstein (The Falkenstein Foundation, Los Angeles: 2012), ISBN 978-1-4675-0834-6 This volume is a welcome survey of a successful, mid-20th-century artist, primarily known as a sculptor, whose work and reputation have inexplicably faded from view. She has disappeared from the record even more thoroughly than other artists working in the ’40s through ’60s who created cast and welded sculpture. That generation, deeply marked by the experience of war, was the last in a ... More » »

James Baldwin

Represent showcases 200 years of African-American art at the PMA

[Andrea investigates a varied show of African-American work at the PMA, and hopes it indicates a continuation of the museum’s recent outreach efforts. — the artblog editors] In 2001, the Philadelphia Museum of Art ( PMA) established the African-American Collections Committee to assist in the development of the museum’s collections. A catalog of the PMA’s holdings of work by African-Americans was a major goal of the committee, and has been in the works for the past decade. To celebrate its publication, the museum has organized the exhibition of 75 works by more than 50 artists, calling the show Represent: 200 Years of African ... More » »

Painting

V.S. Gaitonde at the Guggenheim Museum, N.Y.

[Andrea explores the subtleties of V.S. Gaitonde, a non-objective artist whose work shows the influence of Indian culture, Paul Klee, and Buddhism. — the artblog editors]  The extraordinarily seductive, abstract paintings of V.S. Gaitonde are unlikely to be familiar to Guggenheim Museum visitors, unless they have a prior knowledge of modern art in India. This makes a visit to V.S. Gaitonde: Painting as Process, Painting as Life (on view through Feb. 11, 2015) imperative for anyone wishing to engage with modern, non-Western art of the 1960s–1990s. Beyond that, it offers an intensely rich vision of the possibilities of painting. The exhibition ... More » »

Costumes

Books for holiday giving, part II

[Andrea continues her gift recommendations for art lovers. — the artblog editors] Inside Nick Cave’s “Soundsuits” Nick Cave: Epitome (Prestel: Munich, London, New York), ISBN 978-3791349169, $65 Nick Cave’s performative sculptures, which he calls “Soundsuits,” disguise their wearers and transform them into extravagant creatures of the artist’s imagination. The fact that many of them maintain evidence of the homey materials that Cave employs–including twigs, baskets, crocheted potholders, woven straw handbags, stuffed toys, and small ceramic figurines, as well as pipe cleaners, buttons, sequins, and beads–only makes his creations more magical, emphasizing Cave’s ability to discern the extravagant and theatrical potential of ... More » »

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Books for holiday giving, part I

[If you’re in the book-giving camp when it comes to holiday presents, here’s the perfect post for the art appreciators and design devotees in your life. — the artblog editors] Artistic abodes abound Margot Th. Brandlhuber and Michael Bhurs, eds., In the Temple of the Self: The Artist’s Residence as a Total Work of Art in Europe and America 1800-1948 (Hatje Cantz: Ostfildern), ISBN 978-3-7757-3593-3, $75 This very handsome and generously illustrated volume presents 20 artists’ residences, selected because their interiors, and in some cases their structures, create an integrated whole–a Gesamtkunstwerk–as conceived by their artist inhabitants. It is the English ... More » »