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Forthcoming Books Seen This Week 24 April 2015

Art

                Go to reception and ask for Sara in red felt tip by Holly Pester. Using anecdote as a method to generate a collection of poetry, critical fictions and literary fragments this book performs a response to the history and function of the Women’s Art Library. The stories segue through the archive of personal correspondence, artists’ slides and administrative papers, as well as a poster archive documenting exhibitions, parties and activism in 1980s Feminist art movements. Anecdotal, gossiped and mistreated histories form aberrant narratives as a result of an inverted mode of archival research.

                Portland has been shaped and hollowed out over centuries by convicts and quarrymen to provide stone for some of London’s best-known buildings – one million square feet of Portland stone is said to have been quarried for St Paul’s Cathedral alone. Katrina Palmer has undertaken her own excavations into this elemental island, marked by unsettling absences, deviant goings-on and a writer who has gone missing. End Matter accounts for the loss of Portland's stone, through the mysterious work of The Loss Adjusters, based on Portland, and responsible for accounting and balancing the material and historical shifts of the island’s being. Reporting these losses in the form of reports, their work overlaps, and becomes disrupted by, the presence of a writer and her production of unreliable narratives set in the tunnels, paths and hollowed out quarries of the island, and presented – like the stone itself – as absences from the narrative; end matter, whose body is missing.

                In the early 2000s, Saul Leiter came to the fore as one of the most accomplished and surprising colour photographers of the 20th century. Books were published, films made and exhibitions launched. While it was never a secret, few of those who are familiar with Leiter's photography are aware that over the years he created, in his own unhurried way, a yet-to-be appreciated and equally formidable body of paintings and painted photographs. As the first ever publication dedicated to this largely unknown part of Leiter's oeuvre, Painted Nudes offers a selection of more than 70 painted photographs - intimate, brilliantly coloured pieces that marry Leiter's two artistic passions. Produced over the course of four decades, these fiercely expressive nudes are a testament to Leiter's intuitive sense of colour and composition, and showcase a great 20th century artist at his resplendent best. Painted Nudes seeks not only to celebrate, but to illuminate this unique body of work by juxtaposing the painted nudes with a selection of quotes from works of literature. Taking its cue from Leiter's own work, the book straddles the boundaries between genres, inviting readers to discover their connections and resonances. Lush, evocative and associative, Painted Nudes is as stimulating to the eye as it is for the mind.

                Since the 1970s Raymond Pettibon has created a vocabulary of symbols that reappear consistently if enigmatically across his oeuvre. These range from baseball players, vixens, light bulbs and railway trains to the cartoon character Gumby and infamous murderer Charles Manson. But the most poetic and revealing of Pettibon's symbols may be the surfer, the solitary longboarder challenging a massive wave. In his "surfer paintings," viewers ride along with a counterculture existentialist hero who perhaps is the artist's nearest proxy. Almost all of the works included in this volume depict an ocean roiling with chaotic swells, accompanied by nonsequiturs, quotations and bits of poetry in the artist's handwriting. Among these works are early small-scale, monochrome India ink paintings; numerous paintings from the 1990s when the artist introduced color to his work; and a group of rare, large-scale paintings.

 

 

Design

                Jasper Morrison has the ability to bestow things with a distinctive style. His signature style is evident in many of the everyday objects that surround us. His repertoire of essential designs is characterised by simplicity yet complexity, as well as a sense of poetry and humour. Morrison works on a global scale and is one of the most influential product designers in the world today. A Book of Things is a collection of products and projects across the broad spectrum of his activities and demonstrates the continuity of his interests and methods, which he describes in succinct texts. Following on from Everything but the Walls, A Book of Things is a continuation of Morrison’s intense examination of the world of things that accompany our lives and shape our environment.

 

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Forthcoming Books Seen This Week 17 April 2015

Architecture

                 Chandigarh, built in the 1950s to a scheme by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret with their team of international and Indian architects, until the present day is regarded an icon of modernist urban design. Austrian artist Werner Feiersinger has recently travelled to the legendary capital of India’s federal state Punjab. Inspired by Ernst Scheidegger’s book Chandigarh 1956, he has put together a vast pictorial account of the city’s famous architecture today. This new book features some 300 of Feiersinger’s photographs. With the keen eye of a sculptor, he shows the expressive sculptural qualities of the buildings. He captures the place’s vivid atmosphere and virtuosity and illustrates its continuous topicality. This artistic approach clearly distinguishes this book from previous publications on Chandigarh, most of which are of merely documentary character. The essay by Austrian architect Andreas Vass reflects on Chandigarh’s history, its architectural qualities, and its future development.

                Japanese houses today have to contend with unique factors that condition their design, from tiny plots in crowded urban contexts to ever-present seismic threats. These challenges encourage their architects to explore alternating ideas of stability and ephemerality in various ways, resulting in spaces that are as fascinating as they are idiosyncratic. Their formal innovation and attention to materials, technology and measures to coax in light and air while maintaining domestic privacy make them cutting-edge residences that suggest new ways of being at home. Contemporary Japanese architecture has emerged as a substantial force on the international scene ever since Kenzo Tange won the Pritzker Prize in 1987. This overview of 50 recent houses powerfully demonstrates Japans enduring commitment to design innovation.

                This provocative book argues that it is high time the practice of architecture moved away from the ego-fuelled grand visions of starchitects to a networked, collaborative, inclusive model inspired by 21st-century trends such as crowd-sourcing, open access and mass customization. But how can collaborative design avoid becoming design-by-committee? Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel deftly navigate this and other vital questions, considering along the way the applications of open-source architecture not only conceptually, but also in practice. Open Source Architecture is a rallying cry to students and open-minded professionals seeking new perspectives on a profession that the authors passionately believe to be moribund.

 

Photography

                Leipzig-born photographer Margret Hoppe is a promising new voice in European photographic art. This new book features her series Après une Architecture, a photographic perspective of Le Corbusier’s architecture that refers to his concept of a modern architecture laid-out in the book Vers une architecture (Toward an Architecture) of 1923. Hoppe’s images show Le Corbusier’s use of exposed concrete, the clarity of his geometric shapes and the emblematic polychrome surfaces as symbols of his buildings. She investigates what remains today of these visions of architectural modernism, now that its legacy in many cases is adored as a monument rather than actually used and appreciated as a functional piece of architecture. The photographic image transforms the buildings into signs of a highly pictorial and sculptural aesthetic, enabling manifold views at Le Corbusier’s work in the present day. The book also presents a selection of Hoppe’s photographs of international modernist buildings, alongside two essays and a conversation with the artist. It is published to coincide with a solo exhibition at the Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig.

                In his second book for Rizzoli, Ryan McGinley focuses on the work that he has become best known for since he first rose to prominence ten years ago: the summer road trips. Since the earliest days of his unparalleled career, every summer McGinley has gathered up a group of thirty college-age kids, rented a bus, and set out on a cross-country trip. These trips—now legendary among the artist’s large coterie of friends and collaborators and the art world at large—and the photographs created during them have established him as the most consequential photographer of his generation. In the photos, McGinley documents the summertime explorations and exploits of a group of twentysomethings but also renders something much more fleeting and ineffable: the freedom and abandon of youth. Whether hiking on peat-covered mountains, swimming in crystalline lakes, rolling around in vast fields of tall grass, or squatting in derelict countryside barns, the artist’s photographs of young, naked bodies in pastoral scenes have been his signature, and his triumph has been his ability to evoke innocence and nostalgia with flashes of sexual brio. McGinley’s work has continued to deliver on the promise it made nearly a decade ago—that he is the most influential and important chronicler of his generation.

 

 

Art

                In 1960, Eberhard Fischer had the opportunity to accompany his father, the art ethnologist Hans Himmelheber, on a major expedition to West Africa. He was actually only meant to film the Dan mask carvers as they worked, as well as their festive performances. Yet the strong personalities of these sculptors impressed the young man deeply and he began to document their life stories, record their artistic work methods in detail, and also to collect their works. The biographies and many of the photographs shown in the book of four mask carvers from the Liberian hinterland are unique in the study of African art, as masks are carved in secret in many of these cultures. Until recently, the works were recognized by art ethnologists and collectors, but rarely the people who created them. The new book presents Fischer’s essay, originally published in German in 1963, for the first time in English. For the new edition the text is supplemented by additional images and an epilog. A DVD with the historic film recordings of the artists at work rounds out the book.

                The act of drawing has long been considered the foundation of an artistic education, and the life class essential to the formation of an artists style and technique. Yet in the contemporary art world drawing is increasingly regarded as a medium in its own right, and the figure as a subject for ongoing exploration well beyond the sketchbook. Drawing People is a thoughtful and beautifully illustrated survey of the most compelling and inventive drawings of the human form being produced today. An introduction places the medium of drawing in its historical context, discussing its intersection with photography, painting, collage and illustration. Five chapters Body, Self, Personal Lives, Social Reality and Fictions include short introductions outlining each theme, followed by commentaries on individual artists exploring their style, ideas and techniques, accompanied by finely reproduced images of their recent work.

                Over the course of a career that spanned fifty years, Agnes Martins austere, serene work anticipated and helped to define Minimalism, even as she battled psychological crises and carved out a solitary existence in the American Southwest. I paint with my back to the world, she claimed; when she died at ninety-two, in Taos, New Mexico, it is said she had not read a newspaper in half a century. Nancy Princenthal tells her whole story chronologically from Martins birth in Saskatchewan and her early years as an artist, living in derelict Manhattan shipping lofts as neighbour to Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly and others of their ilk; to the seven years she stopped painting, just as her career was taking off; the months she spent roaming the country in a pick-up truck; and her last thirty years, in Taos, in an adobe house she built with her own hands. Nancy Princenthal has written the essential Agnes Martin biography; a must-read for anyone interested in abstract painting or the history of women artists in America.

 

Graphic Design

                Here is a an overview of the exceptional work produced and championed by over fifty of the leading illustrators, printmakers and designers from the sphere of independent, print-based design. People of Print is split into three sections: Part 1 features essays by journalist Andrew Losowsky; Danielle Pender, curator at KK Outlet; and Lawrence Zeegen, Professor of Illustration at University of the Arts London. It includes interviews with Heretic, a London-based illustration and screen-printing studio, and Jeremy Leslie, Creative Director at magCulture; and a site visit to St Cuthberts Mill, a paper manufacturer in Somerset. Part 2 consists of profiles on such creatives as Brazilian illustrators Bicicleta Sem Freio, Melbourne-based screen-printers Dangerfork, Portland-based letterpress KeeganMeegan & Co., and New York-based design firm Sagmeister & Walsh. Part 3, the Directory, lists a wide selection of print-based websites.

 

Design

                The international touring exhibition Die gute Form was conceived by Max Bill on behalf of the Swiss Werkbund and was shown for the first time in 1949 at the Basel Mustermesse trade fair. The exhibition consisted of 80 display panels, designed by Bill, presenting a selection of consumer goods from all over the world, chosen by Bill as examples of good design. The show caused some upset in Switzerland and fuelled heated debates abroad. But it also exerted a wide-reaching influence – for example, upon the way in which consumer goods were perceived. This publication documents Bill’s initiative in reproductions of the original display panels and layout plans for the venues visited by the exhibition, and places Die gute Form in a theoretical context that considers its reception and impact within the history of design.

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