Category Archives: photography

state of the art

My library consortium is lucky enough to include an art college. Which means I get to gobble up pricey art books without bankrupting myself. Yay!

Recent “reads” (okay, so I really just look at the pictures):

Bactrian Gold from the Excavations of the Tillya-Tepe Necropolis in Northern Afghanistan by V. I. Sarianidi. from Aurora Art Publishers 1985

Mleh. I thought it might include something about the excavation itself and the culture of the people who lived there. But really it was just a bunch of photos of gold pieces- removed from placement and all shiny-ed up.

Robert Mapplethorpe compiled by Richard Marshall. Whitney Museum of American Art in association with New York Graphic Society Books, 1988

Considering their overtly sexual nature, Mapplethorpe’s photos are surprisingly stark and emotionless. They seem more like statues than living flesh.

John Firth-Smith: A Voyage That Never Ends text by Gavin Wilson. Craftsman House, 2000

An Austalian modernist with heavy doses of nautical iconography. Viewing modern art by book always leaves me frustrated. Anytime a work measured by feet is scaled down to postcard size, it loses the majority of impact. I have the feeling I’d like Firth-Smith’s work better in person.

Les XX and the Belgian Avant-Garde: Prints, Drawings, and Books ca. 1890 edited by Stephen H. Goddard. Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, 1992

Text heavy (which translates to me impatiently flipping through.) But there were several interesting artists, with designs strangely similar to American Art Deco.

Hand to Earth: Andy Goldsworthy Sculpture, 1976-1990 edited by Terry Friedman and Andy Goldsworthy. Henry Moore Center for the Study of Sculpture, 1990.

I enjoy the subversiveness of Goldsworthy’s work, using natural elements in the most unnatural way.

The Blue Four: Feininger, Jawlensky, Kandinsky, and Klee in the New World edited by Vivian Endicott Barnett and Josef Helfenstein. Yale University Press, 1997.

I’m just in it for Feininger. Jawlensky bores me, Klee leaves me cold, Kandinsky’s too sterile. But Feininger… He’s cubist-influenced without being totally removed from the natural form. More like he’s painting echoes than breaking up images. The painting are full of space, soft, almost impressionistic. I especially love his nautical themed works.

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