Thursday, August 16, 2007

Welcome to the Art Collection Development Blog!

What materials would you like the library to purchase to support art instruction? This blog exists to facilitate sharing reviews and suggestions for the art collection of the Alpine Campus Library. As your Art faculty liason, I will post regular entries of reviews I have read with links to the more colorful entries on Amazon. You can email me ( or use the comments feature of this blog to let me know what you'd like for us to order, or even what kinds off reviews you'd like to see. Let's get started! Kristin

Art Reviews from July & August 2007 Library Journal

The Jean-Michel Basquiat Show. Skira, dist. by Rizzoli. 2007. 324p. ed. by Gianni Mercurio. illus. bibliog. ISBN 978-88-7624-927-3. $85. FINE ARTS
Basquiat, perhaps the artist most associated with the money, excess, and destructiveness of the 1980s New York art world, has lately enjoyed a resurrection of interest; while he has never truly lacked critical attention, the last several years have seen a flurry of important exhibitions devoted to this enigmatic artist. The latest exhibition, at the Milan Triennale, includes more than 160 items (oil paintings and works on paper) spanning the artist's career. This accompanying catalog features five essays, a biography, an exhibition history, and a selected bibliography (with text in English and Italian), but it is the sheer number of works reproduced in full color—many from private collections—that sets it apart from previous catalogs. Supplemental material, e.g., a photo essay of Basquiat's friends, stills from a documentary film, television footage, and studio shots of the artist, combine to make this a standout. Recommended for all libraries collecting late 20th-century American art.—Kraig Binkowski, Yale Ctr. for British Art Lib.

Le Normand-Romain, Antoinette & Christina Buley-Uribe. Auguste Rodin: Drawings & Watercolors. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2007. 440p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 978-0-500-23835-6. $34.95. FINE ARTS
Auguste Rodin once stated, "My sculpture is merely drawing in all its dimensions." No wonder, then, that authors Le Normand-Romain (former curator of sculpture, Musée Rodin, Paris) and Buley-Uribe (curator of graphic works, Musée Rodin; coauthor, Auguste Rodin: Watercolors from the Collection of the Musée Rodin, Paris) have devoted an entire volume to his drawings and watercolors. The book begins with two essays, one by each author. The first essay covers Rodin's early career, his "black drawings," and the drawings associated with his monumental sculptural project The Gates of Hell. The second examines the role that drawing played in Rodin's mid to late career. The remaining 350-odd pages are devoted to color reproductions of Rodin's drawings and watercolors held by the Musée Rodin—many published for the first time—which are arranged in chronological groups representing different phases of Rodin's career and artistic interests. The book lacks an index, which makes it difficult to locate works on specific topics. Nevertheless, no other volume covers Rodin's drawings in such depth and detail. Recommended for academic and art libraries.—Martha Smith, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY

Ann Lajos, Free Lib. of PhiladelphiaBrown, Elizabeth A. & Clare Henry. Julie Speidel. Museum of Northwest Art, dist. by Univ. of Washington. 2007. 112p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 978-0-295-98658-6. $50. FINE ARTS
Julie Speidel (b. 1941) creates large bronze and stone sculptures, many with unusual color and patina; she has also designed a few fountains. Her work is firmly entrenched in the 20th-century classic modernism hearkening back to Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Hans Arp, and Constantine Brancusi. She began her creative life by making jewelry, and some of the intimacy and intricacy of her jewelry pieces can be seen in her large-scale work. After the foreword by Brown (chief curator, Henry Art Gallery, Univ. of Washington), this career retrospective consists largely of color reproductions that do a reasonable job of portraying the three-dimensional originals, although multiple views of a few works would have more fully conveyed the scope. Art critic Henry's interview with the artist gives a few tantalizing glimpses into Speidel's long struggle to become an artist, but the interview is too short and general to convey the complete story. Not essential for the average library but welcome for collections with a focus on women artists or the art of the Pacific Northwest.—Amy K. Weiss, Univ. of California Lib., Santa Barbara

Fantasy and Faith: The Art of Gustave Doré. Yale Univ. in assoc. with the Dahesh Museum of Art. 2007. 224p. ed. by Eric Zafran with R. Rosenblum & L. Small. illus. index. ISBN 978-0-300-10737-1. $65. FINE ARTS
Images of fantasy and horror, melancholy and memory are intrinsic to French artist Gustave Doré's (1832–83) work, but as this first English study in 25 years points out, his illustrations are only one element of his oeuvre. Doré's paintings and sculpture reveal a strong Romantic vision of the 19th century as well as a taste for political and mythological images, and though they have never had the same appeal as his graphic works, they are well worth considering. Based on holdings in American collections, this fascinating work examines the artist in the context of his own time and assesses his impact on visual media to the present day. Rosenblum (modern European Art, NYU) draws interesting parallels between Doré and Édouard Manet and points out their differences. Political statements and sardonic caricature are the topic of Dahesh Museum of Art curator Small's essay, while Zafran (curator, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art) examines Doré's work by theme. His inclusion of criticism from contemporary publications offers insight into the tastes and sensibilities of an earlier generation. Highly recommended for all art and academic libraries as well as large public collections.—Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York

Nash, A. Leo. Burning Man: Art in the Desert. Abrams. 2007. 160p. photogs. ISBN 978-0-8109-9290-0. $29.95. PHOTOG
Every August people gather for one week in Nevada's Black Rock Desert to create and view curious, often fascinating artworks at the Burning Man Festival. For more than ten years, Californian photographer Nash (2010: The Return of Quetzalcoatl) has participated as an artist in this highly original event held in an otherwise bleak landscape and has documented its varied creations. His black-and-white images, especially the panoramic views against a backdrop of parched sand, capture the whimsy and imagination both of the artwork and the artists themselves. Daniel Pinchbeck (Breaking Open the Head) contributes an introduction that vividly sets the scene and explains the nature of the Burning Man. The photographs are then loosely organized into chapters that include "The Beginning," "Inspiration," "Road Trip," "Desert Rhythms," and "Exodus." Through each of these chapters, Nash provides a running commentary that helps to capture the spirit of the festival. At the very least, this is a fun book; at its best, it is a tribute to the liberating spirit of American art. Well designed and printed, it is highly recommended for all photography and art collections in public and academic libraries.—Raymond Bial, First Light Photography, Urbana, IL

Newark, Tim. Camouflage. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2007. 192p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 978-0-500-51347-7. $45. FINE ARTS
Interdisciplinary works on camouflage are few and far between. In the years since the practical applications of visual disguise became widespread during the two world wars, many publications have appeared that address its military, optical, and biological aspects individually. Newark (ed., Military Illustrated) has authored the most wide-ranging and accessible survey of this fascinating topic yet. Tied to an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, London, the catalog includes five amply illustrated chapters featuring work culled from the museum's collections and many other sources. Newark covers how humans adopted the tactics used by plants and animals to avoid observation, how the practice flourished and matured after the advent of aerial warfare, and how camouflage patterns have recently migrated into new realms such as fashion, interior design, performance and fine art, and architecture. He also describes the earliest tartans as a form of camouflage and shows how the advent of accurate rifles over smoothbore muskets made concealment advantageous. Virtually every page offers compelling photos of and interesting facts about everything from stick insects to stealth bombers. A title for many audiences; highly recommended.—Douglas F. Smith, Berkeley P.L., CA

Poulton, Irene. Fired Up with Raku: Over 300 Recipes. 2007. c.144p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 978-1-86126-848-8. pap. $35. ART INSTRUCTION
The rich, distinctive surfaces of raku ceramics are created by removing the pieces from the kiln while they are still glowing hot and covering them with sawdust, leaves, shredded paper, or other flammable materials. The resulting unpredictable surface colors and textures often yield stunning results. The art of raku can be traced back to 16th-century Japan and the ceramics used in the tea ceremony. Poulton, who has studied and created raku in the United Kingdom and Australia for 20 years, offers a valuable selection of the techniques and ideas of distinguished raku artists. Highly recommended for those beyond the level of Jacqui Atkin's fine Pottery Basics: Everything You Need To Know To Start Making Beautiful Ceramics.

Robertson, E. Graeme & Joan Robertson. Cast Iron Decoration: A World Survey. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2007. 336p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 978-0-500-23254-5. $65. DEC ARTS
Originally published in 1977 by a father-and-daughter team and now available in hardcover for the first time (U.S. paperback edition: 1994), this classic architecture reference work is both concise and informative, highlighting the design motifs and patterns of ornamental cast iron found in cities and buildings around the world. Robertson was a renowned authority on this subject in Australia and beyond; his daughter assisted with the research and took the photographs for many of his books. The text focuses on the rich historical literature relating to ornamental metalwork as well as personal observation and study; the roughly 500 black-and-white photographs and illustrations provide readers with clear examples of the varieties of styles and patterns in works ranging from balconies and railings to verandas and building facades. This historical world survey should be useful to public and academic libraries as well as collections focusing on architectural design. Enthusiastically recommended.—Stephen Allan Patrick, East Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Johnson City

Witkovsky, Matthew S. Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918–1945. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2007. 192p. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 978-0-500-54337-5. $60. PHOTOG
Published in conjunction with a traveling exhibition in the United States (through 5/4/08) and Scotland (through 8/31/08) and organized by the National Gallery of Art (NGA), Washington, DC, this catalog offers a unique look at modern photography during the 1920s and 1930s in Austria, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland. In it, Witkovsky (curator, NGA) presents nearly 100 photographers—some familiar, others less well known—placing deliberate emphasis on the regional characteristics of Central European artists. He pays particular attention to the importance of photomontage, a technique that involves cutting apart and rearranging multiple photographs, as it was applied to both fine art and press photography. He discusses how post-World War I photomontage differed from the photomontage created during World War II: in the 1920s, it reflected a character of national reconstruction and recovery from war, while in the 1930s and 1940s, it included more underground works of activism. One strong point is Witkovsky's attention to the impact of social trends, e.g., women's fashion and concern for workers' rights. With excellent supplementary material including artist biographies, reproductions and maps (192 color, 59 b&w illustrations), and a thorough bibliography; recommended for academic and larger public libraries.—Eric Linderman, Euclid P.L., OH

Some publishers I like:

Harry N. Abrams

Phaidon Press

Thames & Hudson

Which publishers do you like?