Best Sellers

The New Art of the Fifteenth Century

Faith and Art in Florence and the Netherlands

By

A fresh look at the early Renaissance, considering Florentine and Netherlandish art as a single phenomenon at once deeply spiritual and entirely new.

Adam and Eve are driven from the Garden of Eden into a rocky landscape, their naked bodies lit by a cold sun, their gestures and expressions a study in shame and anguish.

A serious man, well attired, kneels in prayer before the Virgin and Child, close enough to touch them almost, his furrowed brow setting off the saintly perfection of their features.

In fifteenth-century Florence and Flanders, painters were using an arsenal of new techniques—including perspective, anatomy, and the accurate treatment of light and shade—to present traditional religious subjects with an unprecedented immediacy and emotional power. Their art was the product of a shared Christian culture, and their patrons included not only nobles and churchmen but also the middle classes of these thriving commercial centers.

Shirley Neilsen Blum offers a new synthesis of this remarkable period in Western art—between the refinements of the Gothic and the classicism of the High Renaissance—when the mystical was made to seem real. In the first part of her text, Blum traces the emergence of a new naturalism in the sculpture of Claus Sluter and Donatello, and then in the painting of Van Eyck and Masaccio. In the second part, she compares scenes from the Infancy and Passion of Christ as rendered by artists from North and South. Exploring both the images themselves and the theological concepts that lie behind them, she re-creates, as far as possible, the experience of the contemporary fifteenth-century viewer.

Abundantly illustrated with color plates of masterworks by Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Rogier van der Weyden, and others, this thought-provoking volume will appeal equally to general readers and students of art history.

Read more

Ancient Trees

Portraits of Time

By

Mesmerizing black-and-white photographs of the world’s most majestic ancient trees.

Holiday Gift Guide Selection -- San Francisco Chronicle

Beth Moon’s fourteen-year quest to photograph ancient trees has taken her across the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Some of her subjects grow in isolation, on remote mountainsides, private estates, or nature preserves; others maintain a proud, though often precarious, existence in the midst of civilization. All, however, share a mysterious beauty perfected by age and the power to connect us to a sense of time and nature much greater than ourselves. It is this beauty, and this power, that Moon captures in her remarkable photographs.

This handsome volume presents sixty of Moon’s finest tree portraits as full-page duotone plates. The pictured trees include the tangled, hollow-trunked yews—some more than a thousand years old—that grow in English churchyards; the baobabs of Madagascar, called “upside-down trees” because of the curious disproportion of their giant trunks and modest branches; and the fantastical dragon’s-blood trees, red-sapped and umbrella-shaped, that grow only on the island of Socotra, off the Horn of Africa.

Moon’s narrative captions describe the natural and cultural history of each individual tree, while Todd Forrest, vice president for horticulture and living collections at the New York Botanical Garden, provides a concise introduction to the biology and preservation of ancient trees. An essay by the critic Steven Brown defines Moon’s unique place in a tradition of tree photography extending from William Henry Fox Talbot to Sally Mann, and explores the challenges and potential of the tree as a subject for art. 

Read more

Botanica Magnifica - Deluxe Leather

Portraits of the World's Most Extraordinary Flowers and Plants

By

Botanica Magnifica features two hundred and fifty stunning photographs of rare and exotic plants and flowers by Hasselblad Laureate Award winner Jonathan Singer.

Botanica Magnifica features two hundred and fifty stunning photographs by Hasselblad Laureate Award winner Jonathan Singer, representing—in the words of an ARTnews critic—rare or exotic plants and flowers “in large scale and exquisite detail, emerging from the shadows in a manner evocative of Old Master paintings.”

The original edition of Botanica Magnifica, consisting of five lavishly hand-bound volumes, was limited to just ten copies, the first of which was recently donated to the Smithsonian Institution. The extra-large “double-elephant” format of that edition was chosen in homage to the famous double-elephant folio of The Birds of America, and indeed, Botanica Magnifica is one of the few works of natural history ever to rival Audubon’s magnum opus in its scope and artistry. In praise of the double-elephant folio of Botanica Magnifica, the Smithsonian’s Chairman of Botany attested, “Everyone who has seen the photographs . . . has been tremendously impressed with the power, scale, and depth of the work.”

Now Singer’s remarkable images are available to the public for the first time in this baby-elephant folio of Botanica Magnifica. Like the larger edition, this volume is organized into five alphabetically arranged sections, each introduced by a gatefold page that displays one extraordinary plant at a luxurious size. Each pictured plant is accompanied by a clear and accessible description of its botany, geography, folklore, history, and conservation.

With its marvelous reproductions and fascinating text, the baby-elephant folio of Botanica Magnifica is one of the most impressive volumes of natural history ever published.

Read more

Botanica Magnifica

Portraits of the World's Most Extraordinary Flowers and Plants

By

Botanica Magnifica features two hundred and fifty stunning photographs of rare and exotic plants and flowers by Hasselblad Laureate Award winner Jonathan Singer.

Botanica Magnifica features two hundred and fifty stunning photographs by Hasselblad Laureate Award winner Jonathan Singer, representing—in the words of an ARTnews critic—rare or exotic plants and flowers “in large scale and exquisite detail, emerging from the shadows in a manner evocative of Old Master paintings.”

The original edition of Botanica Magnifica, consisting of five lavishly hand-bound volumes, was limited to just ten copies, the first of which was recently donated to the Smithsonian Institution. The extra-large “double-elephant” format of that edition was chosen in homage to the famous double-elephant folio of The Birds of America, and indeed, Botanica Magnifica is one of the few works of natural history ever to rival Audubon’s magnum opus in its scope and artistry. In praise of the double-elephant folio of Botanica Magnifica, the Smithsonian’s Chairman of Botany attested, “Everyone who has seen the photographs . . . has been tremendously impressed with the power, scale, and depth of the work.”

Now Singer’s remarkable images are available to the public for the first time in this baby-elephant folio of Botanica Magnifica. Like the larger edition, this volume is organized into five alphabetically arranged sections, each introduced by a gatefold page that displays one extraordinary plant at a luxurious size. Each pictured plant is accompanied by a clear and accessible description of its botany, geography, folklore, history, and conservation.

With its marvelous reproductions and fascinating text, the baby-elephant folio of Botanica Magnifica is one of the most impressive volumes of natural history ever published. This volume is also available in a leatherbound, slipcased edition.

Read more

Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees

By

Photographer Beth Moon revisits the world’s oldest trees in the darkest places on earth, using color photography to capture vibrant nighttime skies

Throughout much of the world, night skies are growing increasingly brighter, but the force that protects the remaining naturally dark sky, unpolluted by artificial light, is the same that saves its ancient trees—isolation. Staking out some of the world’s last dark places, photographer Beth Moon uses a digital camera to reveal constellations, nebulae, and the Milky Way, in rich hues that are often too faint to be seen by the naked eye. As in her acclaimed first volume, Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time, these magnificent images encounter great arboreal specimens, including baobabs, olive trees, and redwoods, in such places as South Africa, England, and California.

In her artist’s statement, Beth Moon describes the experience of shooting at night in these remote places. An essay by Jana Grcevich, postdoctoral fellow of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History, provides the perspective of a scientist racing to study the stars in a world growing increasingly brighter. Clark Strand, the author of Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age, takes a different tack, illuminating the inherent spirituality of trees.

Read more

Egyptian Wall Painting

By

A fascinating study of ancient Egyptian wall art, featuring full-page illustrations on matte paper specially designed to re-create the texture of the paintings themselves.

Ancient Egyptian civilization developed its own highly individual manner of expressing visible and invisible worlds—earth and the domain of the gods—through distinctive “languages.” These languages included both two-dimensional portrayals (paintings and painted reliefs) and three-dimensional figures—forms that each must be skillfully deciphered in order to grasp its overt and covert meanings.

Egyptian Wall Painting focuses on two-dimensional depictions in ancient Egypt, examining them as part of an elaborate code that was designed to maintain the Maat—or Cosmic Order, Truth-Justice, and Universal Harmony—and that figured intimately in Egyptian lives and beliefs. The text conducts this examination through two different lenses: that of Western rational analysis, with its emphasis on methods and techniques, and that of ancient Egyptian spirituality, which these complex works have handed down to our own time.

Accordingly, the first section of the book analyzes the technology, techniques, history, and cultural context of Egyptian art, while the second compares selected monumental works across different periods and places, detailing their artistic and spiritual significance. Handsomely illustrated with 350 color plates, including numerous full-page details printed on a special matte paper designed to simulate the feel of the stuccoed limestone on which the original images were painted, Egyptian Wall Painting illuminates an art, language, and culture of extraordinary richness.

The volume is also available in a slipcased version for those seeking an especially luxurious presentation for home or library. As the definitive treatment of its subject, Egyptian Wall Painting is sure to appeal to art historians, Egyptologists, linguists, and connoisseurs interested in one of history’s most complex and influential civilizations.

Read more

Fine Bonsai | Deluxe Edition

Art & Nature

By

In this deluxe volume, renowned botanical photographer Jonathan Singer presents his breathtaking images of the world's most notable bonsai.

This edition is cloth-bound hardcover with a leather-bound spine and an handsome cloth slipcase; the regular edition of Fine Bonsai: Art & Nature is cloth-bound hardcover with a glossy slipcase.

The practice of cultivating bonsai may be traced back some two thousand years, to the earliest representations of potted trees in Chinese art, and is thought to have reached Japan in the Heian period (AD 794–1185), a time of rich cultural exchange. This unique branch of horticulture attained its maturity, and received its present name, in Japan’s Edo period (1603–1868), and many fine bonsai are recorded in the woodblock prints of that era. As Japan broadened its trade and diplomatic contacts after the Meiji Restoration, bonsai became a matter of international interest, and today bonsai masters around the world have learned to grow hundreds of varieties of trees and shrubs in miniature, training them into living sculptures. Their exquisite creations, which change with the passage of the years and the cycle of the seasons, exemplify the connection between man and nature, life and art.

In Fine Bonsai: Art & Nature, the finest extant achievements in the art of bonsai are seen together for the first time, through the lens of renowned botanical photographer Jonathan Singer. This magnificent volume is the result of an ambitious photographic campaign, in the course of which Singer was granted unprecedented access to the most respected public and private collections in Japan and the United States, including the mecca of bonsai, the Omiya Bonsai Village of Saitama, Japan, where photography is normally prohibited. Three hundred stunning full-page images and four lavish gatefolds present bonsai of all types, from quiet representations of nature to colorful fall foliage to bold sculptural forms. The horticultural and aesthetic characteristics of each bonsai are concisely and authoritatively described in the narrative captions by William N. Valavanis, head of the International Bonsai Arboretum in Rochester, New York. And because the container is considered an integral part of any bonsai—indeed, the literal meaning of “bonsai” is “tray plant”—the book also includes some twenty-five photographs of traditional bonsai containers, with descriptions. A further sequence of twenty-five photographs is devoted to the related art of suiseki, or miniature stone landscapes displayed in the same manner, and often alongside, bonsai.

With his groundbreaking first book, Botanica Magnifica, Jonathan Singer established a new style of botanical photography, characterized by an exceptional clarity of detail and richness of color, as well as a painterly chiaroscuro. These qualities are just as evident in the present volume; Singer photographs each bonsai with an artist’s—one might even say a portraitist’s—eye, capturing its individual character, and in some cases revealing qualities hitherto unsuspected even by those who tended it daily. Fine Bonsai not only documents the masterpieces of an ancient horticultural art, but also is a masterpiece in itself.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

Read more

Audubon's Birds of America

2nd Revised Edition

By

Abbeville's magnificent volume on John James Audubon's world famous ornithological engravings.

 

This marvelous edition of Audubon's Birds of America displays all 435 of Audubon's brilliant handcolored engravings in exquisite reproductions taken from the original plates of the Audubon Society's archival copy of the rare Double Elephant Folio. Although many attempts have been made to re-create the magnificent illustrations in Audubon's masterpiece, nothing equals the level of fidelity or scale achieved in this high-quality edition. Organized and annotated by Roger Tory Peterson, America’s best-known ornithologist, and issued with the full endorsement and cooperation of the Audubon Society, this magnificent volume is as thorough in scientific classification as it is beautiful. Peterson's fascinating introduction places Audubon in the context of the history of American ornithological art and also reproduces a wide sampling of the work of Audubon's notable predecessors and disciples, including Peterson's own justly famous paintings. This new systematic arrangement of the prints, complete with informative commentaries about each bird, made it possible to correct many of the problems or errors in Audubon's original edition revealed by later scholarship. The colorful captions in the back provide fascinating commentaries on each featured bird.

 

Read more

Karen Gunderson

The Dark World of Light

By

The first comprehensive monograph on contemporary artist Karen Gunderson written by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Frank.

Widely collected in Hollywood and New York, artist Karen Gunderson is perhaps best known for her work since the 1980s, when she transitioned from painting in color to working only in black. Over her forty-plus-year career, Gunderson has tackled subjects from clouds to royalty to the cosmos. Her long-developed, labor intensive technique, including rigorous brushwork and paint layering, employs a range of black shades that create a unique three-dimensional effect: The multiple textures from the paint catch light and make the paintings shimmer and appear to move, alternating with shadows and highlights that illuminate her subjects—historic royal figures, bodies of water, mountains, and constellations—depending on how the viewer moves in front of each artwork.

Tracing the life and career of the artist, Karen Gunderson is written by author and critic Elizabeth Frank, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her biography of poet Louise Bogan and is the author of a number of books on art, including Jackson Pollock, published by Abbeville.

Art lovers and artists interested in Gunderson’s painting technique will discover captivating works in this book—in more than 100 illustrations—that shows how the artist pushes the limits to what one can do with black paint. While abstract artists of the past, including Ad Reinhardt and Pierre Soulages, have employed black paint, Gunderson has set herself apart from this lineage. She has distinguished herself not only with her use of figurative subjects, but also the way her works radiate a quiet optimism—a sharp contrast with this dark medium.

Read more

Wristwatch Annual 2017

The Catalog of Producers, Prices, Models, and Specifications

By

The must-have guide for the collector of fine wristwatches with complete information—including prices—on over 1,400 models made by more than 130 international brands

The Wristwatch Annual has become a classic for aficionados of fine watchmaking. It’s a one-stop shop for watch buying, offering complete specs and prices on over 1,400 models by more than 130 international brands, while also tracking the latest developments in the watch industry. In addition to the extensive A–Z section, which includes many new entries, senior editor Marton Radkai presents editorial features that take a closer look at a number of exciting American brands on the market today.

Presenting a wide range of wristwatches, with exquisite color photographs and complete specifications for each watch, Wristwatch Annual provides collectors with a wealth of information close at hand. The book is arranged alphabetically by producer—within each producer’s section is a brief history of the brand (with contact information)—and specifications and materials for each watch, including price, movement, special features, complications, case, dial, band, and variations. Also included are a glossary and a guide to watch maintenance.

The clear photography, structured layout, and lively writing also makes this book a pleasure to read or just browse. This year’s edition features updated and expanded content, focusing on new American brands.

Read more

85 Years of the Oscar

The Official History of the Academy Awards

By

The only official history of the Academy Awards and an indispensable addition to any movie buff’s library.

For the film industry, the Academy Awards is the most celebrated and most significant night of the year: everyone longs for the recognition of being nominated to win a little golden statuette. For most of us, however, even a walk down the red carpet is just a dream. 85 Years of the Oscar® puts readers into those iconic plush seats for the thrill of the Academy Awards, from the first show in 1928, shortly after the introduction of the talking picture, to this year’s eighty-fifth anniversary.

With hundreds of photographs and an informative text by Hollywood insider Robert Osborne, 85 Years of the Oscar® is the official history of the Academy Awards. Organized by year, 85 Years of the Oscar® chronicles the ceremonies themselves, as well as the accomplishments, trends, developments, and events that occurred, both within the Academy and for the film industry as a whole. Osborne comments on each year’s most important films and shares the stories behind them. He also transports readers into the awards show, quoting from notable acceptance speeches and celebrity reactions, as well as regaling readers with anecdotes from each year. All award nominees and winners are listed, with a special listing of Oscar® record-holders.

An indispensable and encyclopedic reference for the amateur and expert alike, from the struggling actor to the film critic, this book has been a popular favorite since its first edition was published twenty-four years ago, just after the sixtieth awards ceremony. 85 Years of the Oscar® provides an authority and depth of coverage found nowhere else, and it is sure to please movie-goers around the world.

Read more

The Art of Things

Product Design since 1945

By

The most ambitious survey of its subject ever published, The Art of Things is a monument, and a key, to the objects that surround us.

 

For most of human history, the form of a useful object was determined by its maker, usually a single artisan working within a long cultural tradition. However, the Industrial Revolution saw the development of a curious new profession, that of the designer, whose job it was to decide the appearance and even the function of goods—whether typewriters or tableware—that would be manufactured by others or, increasingly, by machines. When the so-called consumer society emerged in full force after World War II, designers took center stage; some, like Charles and Ray Eames, became celebrities and icons of the new lifestyles they were helping to create.

Within the burgeoning design community, national tendencies emerged: The Germans and the Swiss, heirs to the Bauhaus, favored a modernist aesthetic in which form followed function, and the Scandinavians pioneered a warmer type of functionalism with their distinctive wooden furniture. The U.S. pursued a double strategy, in which home furnishings influenced by European modernism coexisted with frankly exuberant cars and kitchen appliances. Meanwhile, the Japanese consumer electronics companies took an early lead in the branch of industrial design that is perhaps most influential today—and is perhaps best represented by the image of Steve Jobs holding aloft an iPhone before an adoring crowd.

This splendid volume, itself a striking object, narrates the history of modern design in each of the major industrialized nations in turn. Its engaging text, written by leading historians of design, is accompanied by more than 700 vibrant color plates, illustrating both iconic designs and lesser-known but still influential creations.

Read more