New books for a new year

What better way to start the new year…..

 Australia: curated by Anne Gray, Ron Radford, Kathleen Soriano et. al.

Royal Academy of Arts, 2013

Royal Academy of Arts, 2013

This major show of Australian art at the Royal Academy in London in 2013 created something of a stir, not least for the wildly divergent reactions it provoked from the cognoscenti and enthusiasts alike; stopping all stations from the ecstatic to the patronising to the dismissive. Judging by this bulging catalogue alone,  it’s harder to see how you could be anything but enthusiastic about the range of art on offer, or the sheer beauty of many of the pieces. Oh well, maybe you had to be there…..

Stephen Bowers : beyond bravura: Damon Moon and John Neylon

Wakefield Press, 2013

Wakefield Press, 2013

Whilst it’s probably true to say that South Australian ceramic artist Stephen Bowers is working within a long tradition of decorative pottery, it hardly does his extraordinary art justice. Working with other makers, such as longtime collaborator potter Mark Heidenreich, Bowers’ highly detailed, beautifully executed and wonderfully whimsical imagery transforms its host objects into things of wonder. Could be worth a trip down to Geelong, sooner rather than later.

Edwardian opulence : British art at the dawn of the twentieth century: edited by Angus Trumble and Andrea Wolk Rager

Yale University Press, 2013

Yale University Press, 2013

Sandwiched as it was between the behemoth of the Victorian age and the huge tidal surge of Modernism, the Edwardian era has sometimes proved an elusive period to categorise; one of those, I know it when I see it type of things. Covering a mere 9 years of the reign of that most social of monarchs, Edward VII, its art is characterised most noticeably by an elegant loosening of the solidity of its Victorian predecessor, influenced no doubt by the decorative flourishes of the art nouveau movement then very much in full flower. This extraordinary book (opulence indeed!) is the catalogue to what must have been a terrific exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art in 2013, and if you think you have no interest in things Edwardian, think again.

John Everett Millais by Jason Rosenfeld

 

Phaidon Press, 2012

Phaidon Press, 2012

John Everett Millais is perhaps best known as one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848, one of the most remarkable artistic revolutions in English history. At our historical remove (and given the landslide of artistic revolutions we have witnessed since) it can be hard to understand the shock that this movement had on Britain’s cultural life, but Millais was in the middle of it. This major re-evaluation of his work includes a closer and more generous view of his somewhat maligned later career after he had moved away from the purist precepts of the PRB, and finds an artist working as vigorously and creatively as his younger revolutionary self.

 

A little something for Summer: some faux Edwardiana from our Picture Collection:

Victorian & Edwardian beachwear, c.1940s

Victorian & Edwardian beachwear, c.1940s

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