book reviews

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 » »

Book cover

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 » »

Paik in presentation of 'Good Morning Mr. Orwell' at the Kitchen Gallery, NY, Dec. 8,1983, photo © Lorenzo Bianda

Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot at the Asia Society, New York

[Andrea appreciates an intimate retrospective of Nam June Paik’s forward-thinking work, in which the artist’s foresight and sense of humor are easily apparent. — the artblog editors] Go, go, GO to the Asia Society before Jan. 4, 2015 to see Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot–even if you’ve seen lots of the artist’s work before. And if you’ve only seen the work in photographs, you’ve seen nothing. I thought I had a good understanding of Paik’s output; I’d been to the big Guggenheim retrospective in 2000, had read much published material, and briefly worked with the artist in connection with a ... More » »

Studio

The posthumous making of Mondrian’s reputation

[Andrea reviews a book examining Piet Mondrian’s continued influence on aesthetics from fashion to furnishings–and comments on the copyright limitations that sometimes keep us from discussing artists’ impact. — the artblog editors] After death, various interests feed on an artist’s work This absolutely terrific book should be required reading for all students of 20th-century art, artists, and anyone else interested in how an artist’s reputation is made. It’s also a very good read, leaving the reader uncertain of just who’s the villain here. Troy explores the competing self-interest among Mondrian’s executor, his artist friends, various dealers, collectors, museums, and scholars ... More » »

the public library

Book review — How do we love thee, public library? Robert Dawson counts the ways

[Roberta reviews a photographer’s attempt to document American public libraries. The resulting tome provides a good public service for all. — the artblog editors] Dawson’s citizen-archiving Robert Dawson‘s photo book, The Public Library, is a wonderful example of citizen-archiving. Dawson is not an academic; he’s a photographer and a library-lover, and his 192-page hardcover book trumpets its library love with straightforward joy and ownership, like a volunteer marching band playing a Sousa march in your neighborhood Fourth of July parade. The many color and black-and-white photos taken by the photographer over the last 18 years of traveling around the US are great. ... More » »

art-studio-america-1-thumb-620x377-70970

Reviews of two books on artists and their studios

[Andrea reviews divergent approaches to documenting artists’ processes and workspaces, finding that the second book is inappropriate for young artists, because it will give them unrealistic expectations. — the artblog editors] Sarah Trigg is an artist who became fascinated with the range of curiosities she found in fellow artists’ studios. Focusing on specific categories, which she terms “mascots,” “collected objects,” “makeshift tools,” “rituals,” “residue,” and “habitat,” Trigg set out to record her visits with 100 colleagues who represent the range of artists working in the U.S. She described her approach as “anthropological”. Trigg knew only a handful of these colleagues ... More » »