Between the shorter days of winter and the stay-at-home period, now is a wonderful time to get cozy with one (or 100) books about art. This list is a good place to start.
1. My Still Life Art by Richard Schmid
“My Still Life Art,” published by Stove Prairie Press, is a large-format book about the American master painter Richard Schmid (b. 1934). As the title suggests, this handsome 280-page volume chronicles the artist’s six decades of still life painting. Its 385 color images show readers these artworks in various stages of completion, along with details and Schmid’s insightful reflections on his methods. The book has been published in softcover and hardcover editions. (Learn more about “My Still Life Art” by Richard Schmid)
2. I Come from a Place: Appalachian Watercolors of the Serpentine Chain
Two accomplished residents of Appalachia have collaborated to publish the 152-page, limited-edition book “I Come from a Place: Appalachian Watercolors of the Serpentine Chain.” Housed in its own slipcover, the handsome volume contains more than 80 watercolors of this scenic region painted by Alan Shuptrine, accompanied by the prose of Jennifer Pharr Davis, who holds the female world record for fastest supported hike on the Appalachian Trail (47 miles per day).
The authors note that the 18th-century Celtic settlers who moved westward from the Eastern Seaboard gravitated toward this region’s rugged landscape because it looked like home. The new publication celebrates the mountain region’s land, people, and culture, asking readers to consider “where do we experience our most profound sense of belonging, of home?” (Learn more about “I Come from a Place: Appalachian Watercolors of the Serpentine Chain”)
3. Mort Künstler: The Godfather of Pulp Fiction Illustrators
The artist Mort Künstler (b. 1927) is best known for convincing scenes of the Civil War and other historical eras, but in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s he pursued a successful career creating covers and illustrations for such men’s pulp magazines as True Adventure, Male, Stag, and For Men Only.
Edited by Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle, “Mort Künstler: The Godfather of Pulp Fiction Illustrators” is the first book to explore this overlooked period, when the artist worked “15-hour days, sometimes seven days a week.” This 134-page volume contains 150 illustrations and has been published by New Texture. (Learn more about Mort Künstler: The Godfather of Pulp Fiction Illustrators)
4. Simple Pleasures: The Art of Doris Lee
The catalogue accompanying the touring exhibition “Simple Pleasures: The Art of Doris Lee” is published by Pennsylvania’s Westmoreland Museum of American Art in partnership with D. Giles Ltd (London). This is the first major project devoted to Doris Lee (1904–1983), whose folk-art-tinged scenes of everyday life were widely admired from the mid-1930s through the 1950s, along with her graphic designs and illustrations.
Based in the artists’ colony of Woodstock, New York, she exploded onto the American art scene in 1935 but has been more or less forgotten since her death. (Learn more about “Simple Pleasures: The Art of Doris Lee”)
5. Knowing and Seeing: Reflections on Fifty Years of Drawing Cities
In his 228-page book “Knowing and Seeing: Reflections on Fifty Years of Drawing Cities,” Douglas Cooper reflects on his half-century-long career as a muralist specializing in cityscapes. In a book that is part memoir and part analysis of his own art, Cooper offers personal anecdotes on his site sketches and finished works, then explores their intellectual roots.
Though his core artistic ideas began in Pittsburgh (where he teaches at Carnegie Mellon University), Cooper has exhibited and made murals worldwide. All of this work has been driven by a desire to combine his conception of place with his perception of it — thus the title “Knowing and Seeing.” The book has been published by the University of Pittsburgh Press (upittpress.org).
6. The Tastemakers: British Dealers and the Anglo-Gallic Interior, 1785–1865
“The Tastemakers: British Dealers and the Anglo-Gallic Interior, 1785–1865” is as much a book about people as about art. Departing from the conventional narrative of art dealers as purveyors of antiquarianism, independent scholar Diana Davis has repositioned them as influencers who invented a visually splendid decorative style that combined the contrasting tastes of their own nation (Britain) and of France. They did this by transforming old objects from pre-revolutionary France into cherished “antiques” while also creating new (and modified) French-inspired furniture, bronzework, and porcelain. This surprising 320-page book is available from Getty Publications (getty.edu/publications).
7. Making Waves: Crosscurrents in the Study of Nineteenth-Century Art
Brepols Publishers (brepols.net) has released “Making Waves: Crosscurrents in the Study of Nineteenth-Century Art.” It honors the life work of the New Jersey-based scholar Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, who remains a leader in the field of 19th-century art historical studies.
Inside are 28 essays authored by her friends, students, and colleagues, all edited deftly by professors Laurinda S. Dixon and Gabriel P. Weisberg. Most of the articles are based on the study of objects and their documented historical contexts. Though their methodologies are diverse, the authors’ purposes are clear and their language straightforward.
The contributing authors are Laura Coyle, Laurie Dahlberg, Therese Dolan, Rachel Esner, Gail Feigenbaum, Roberto C. Ferrari, Madeleine Fidell-Beaufort, Sharon Flescher, Francesco Freddolini, Anne Helmreich, Ruth E. Iskin, Liu Jing, Patricia Mainardi, Elizabeth Mansfield, Jennifer Milam, Kasia Murawska-Muthesius, Charlotte Nichols, Alia Nour, Emily Pugh, Jenny Reynaerts, Agnieszka Rosales-Rodriguez, Marjan Sterckx, Isabel L. Taube, Sally Webster, and Leanne Zalewski.
8. The Joy of Art: How to Look at, Appreciate, and Talk about Art
The title almost says it all. “The Joy of Art: How to Look at, Appreciate, and Talk about Art” is California artist Carolyn Schlam’s tool kit for making your next visit to the museum even more rewarding. Within its 344 pages, she lays out a working vocabulary to identify what you see; the basic criteria to consider while looking at art; highlights of the primary genres and an introduction to the artists who pursued them; visual examples and intriguing facts galore; and even a few games to test your new skills. The book is available from Allworth Press (skyhorsepublishing.com/allworth-press).
9. A Painter’s Journey
Karl Dempwolf has been a working artist, a painter in oils, producing fine art for more than half a century. He is now offering his insights in his new book, “A Painter’s Journey,” describing the struggles every artist encounters, with beautifully reproduced color images of his work. Designed not only for his collectors and fellow artists, those that have studied under him or followed his career, but all non-artists as well. The book is fully indexed with descriptions and comments, making it a resource for artists and a journey all can enjoy.
A colorful book of oil paintings designed to stimulate and inspire artists and art enthusiasts, there are 78 pages with color images, including 5″ x 7″ plein air sketches printed to-scale in order to appreciate the brushwork of the artist. Quotes from great masters accompany many of the images. The thumbnail index in the back of the book provides background information for each painting. (Learn more about “A Painter’s Journey”)
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