Art and Design

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

Rodin

By

Essential for every art lover—the definitive new book on Rodin’s life and work.

With more than 350 pictures, many never before seen, Rodin reveals, in great beauty and detail, the genius of the man known as the father of modern sculpture. The stories of Rodin’s sculptures, well known for their sense of fluidity and movement, are told through each stage of development from plaster casts to the glorious end result.

A world-renowned expert in Rodin’s work and a former curator at the Musée Rodin, Antoinette Le Normand-Romain enjoyed unprecedented access to Rodin’s archives and the museum’s collection in preparing this absorbing new study of the artist’s life and works. She details the evolution of Rodin’s artistic vision: from the frustration of his early career—he was denied entrance to the École des Beaux Arts three times—to his first critical triumph with The Burghers of Calais to the twenty years he spent working on The Gates of Hell. Rodin also includes reproductions of the artist's numerous sketches, emphasizing his ability to capture human movement in two or three strokes of the pen and translate his sketches into final pieces that highlight the unique character of his subjects through their physicality.

This new perspective on Rodin’s oeuvre is accompanied by photographs that illuminate the amazing details of his works, often in full- and double-page spreads. The photography undertaken for the book showcases both well-known masterworks—like The Kiss and The Thinker—and little-seen treasures, including many of the artist's plaster models and studies. Images of works in different stages of composition, and of the same work in different versions, provide an intimate look at Rodin's artistic process. With these splendid illustrations accompanying Le Normand-Romain’s insightful text, Rodin is the new authority on one of the world’s greatest artists.

 

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

The Golden Lands

Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam

By

A groundbreaking survey of the Buddhist architecture of Southeast Asia, abundantly illustrated with new color photography.

Over the course of its 2,500-year history, Buddhism has found expression in countless architectural forms, from the great monastic complexes of ancient India to the fortified dzongs of Bhutan, the rock-carved temple grottoes of China, the wooden shrines of Japan, and the colorful wats of Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Architecture of the Buddhist World, a projected six-volume series by the noted architect and scholar Vikram Lall, represents a new multidisciplinary approach to this fascinating subject, showing how Buddhist thought and ritual have interacted with local traditions across the Asian continent to produce masterpieces of religious architecture.

The first volume in the series, The Golden Lands, is devoted to Southeast Asia, home to many of the most spectacular Buddhist monuments. Following a general introduction to the early history of Buddhism and its most characteristic architectural forms (the stupa, the temple, and the monastery), Lall examines the Buddhist architecture of Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos in turn. For each country, he provides both a historical overview and case studies of noteworthy structures. Lall’s concise and accessible text is illustrated throughout with new color photography, as well as 3-D architectural models that make even the most complex structures easily comprehensible.

The monuments that Lall considers in The Golden Lands range from the modest Bupaya stupa, constructed in Bagan, Myanmar, in the third century CE, to the vast complex of Borobudur in Central Java, the world’s largest Buddhist monument. Lall’s achievement is to place them all within a single panorama of history, religion, and artistic innovation.

Read more

Herculaneum

Art of a Buried City

By

The first modern survey of the art and architecture of this miraculously preserved Roman town, illustrated with superb new photography.

The bustling life of Herculaneum was brought to a sudden and catastrophic end in AD 79, by the same eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried the city’s larger neighbor, Pompeii. But while Pompeii was initially covered by a rain of loose pumice, Herculaneum was submerged to a great depth in torrents of superheated ash, which, uniquely, preserved the upper stories of buildings, as well as organic materials such as wooden furnishings and foodstuffs.

This handsome oversized volume opens with an account of Herculaneum’s destruction, and of the excavations, under way since 1738, that have brought at least a part of its treasures back to light. It then describes, in detail, twenty-six of the most important public buildings and private residences that have been uncovered. These include the Samnite House, one of the city’s oldest surviving dwellings, decorated in the elegant and restrained First Style of wall painting; the famous House of the Stags, with its luxurious marble pavements and its garden overlooking the sea; and of course the fantastically wealthy Villa of the Papyri, which has yielded nearly ninety fine statues, as well as the library of manuscripts for which it is named.

The splendid decoration of these ancient structures—in particular, their wall paintings—is presented as never before, thanks to an extensive photographic campaign carried out especially for this book. With these superb illustrations complementing an authoritative text, Herculaneum is sure to be welcomed by all students and enthusiasts of archaeology.

Read more

ArtSpeak

A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1945 to the Present

By

A revised and expanded third edition of the leading lexicon of contemporary art, now illustrated in full color throughout.

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of its original publication, the best-selling ArtSpeak returns in a fully redesigned third edition, featuring nearly 150 alphabetical entries—30 of them entirely new, and others updated—that explain the who, when, where, and what of postwar and contemporary art, from Abstract Expressionism to zeitgeist. These concise essays on key artistic terms are written with wit and common sense by veteran art historian and critic Robert Atkins, who also provides a year-by-year timeline of world and art-world events from 1945 to the present. Some 80 images, most in full color, illustrate iconic works of the movements discussed, making ArtSpeak a visual as well as a textual reference.

The new terms in this edition of ArtSpeak include not only recent movements, such as the Leipzig School and San Francisco’s Mission School, but also past movements that have attained a new critical prominence, such as Japan’s Mono-ha group and Brazilian Neoconcretism. Also discussed are the growing constellation of new media and intermedia practices, the social and economic structures of the art world, and the theoretical concepts that interest artists and critics today. Particular attention is given to the key terms of contemporary Chinese art—from Rustic Realism to Political Pop—reflecting China’s growing importance on the global scene.

Long established as an indispensable reference for art-world neophytes and seasoned professionals alike, ArtSpeak will continue to attract a broad and appreciative audience in this attractive new edition.

Read more

The History of Florence in Painting

By

A landmark volume that tells the story of the archetypal Renaissance city anew, through its art.

Located at the heart of the Italian peninsula, Florence was already a center of commerce and fine craftsmanship by 1252, when it began to mint its own currency, the gold florin, the “dollar of the Middle Ages.” The great wealth amassed by the Medici, the Strozzi, the Pitti, and other merchant and banking families was in some part responsible for the flowering of the arts, literature, philosophy, and science in the period that followed, a phenomenon that even then was recognized as, and called, a renaissance. The legacy of this great epoch, both tangible and spiritual, ensured that Florence would remain a beacon of culture through its succeeding centuries of ducal rule, eventually becoming an essential stop on the Grand Tour and a font of inspiration for figures like Stendhal and Ruskin.

And Florence was all along a city of painters, whose works not only record and interpret its history—its sights; the likenesses of its leaders and luminaries; its battles, civic myths, and patron saints—but are also an integral part of that history themselves. In this magnificent volume are assembled a wide variety of artworks, both familiar and rarely seen, that, interwoven with an authoritative text, chronicle the changing fortunes of Florence—from the age of Cimabue and Giotto, through the High Renaissance of Leonardo and Michelangelo, to the Mannerism of Vasari and Bronzino, and even to the era of modern travelers like Sargent and Degas.

The History of Florence in Painting is a feast for the eyes and the intellect, and a worthy companion to the previous volumes in this series, which present the histories of Venice, Paris, and Rome in painting.

Read more

Selling Russia's Treasures

The Soviet Trade in Nationalized Art, 1917-1938

By

An authoritative illustrated account of the unprecedented sale of Russia’s cultural patrimony by the Soviet government.

Selling Russia’s Treasures documents one of the great cultural dramas of the twentieth century: the sale, by a cash-hungry Soviet government, of the artistic treasures accumulated by the Russian royal family, aristocracy, and church over the centuries and nationalized after the October 1917 revolution. An astonishing variety of objects, from icons and illuminated manuscripts to Fabergé eggs and Old Master paintings, entered the collections of wealthy westerners like Andrew Mellon; in fact, the canvases he purchased from the Hermitage now form the core of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Written by the leading experts in the field and long regarded as the definitive treatment of its subject, the original Russian edition of Selling Russia’s Treasures is sought after by scholars and laymen alike. Now, for the first time, this important book is made available in English, in a revised and expanded edition that includes new material on the secret files of the Hermitage, the sale of religious art, and the loss of twentieth-century French paintings from the Museum of New Western Art.

Numerous color plates reunite long-dispersed masterworks, if only on the page, and rare photographs and archival documents help bring the buried history of the “Stalin sales” to light. Several appendices—including a checklist of pieces sold from Russia’s crown jewels, a chronology, and biographies of key figures—add to the value of this volume, which not only reveals an important episode of cultural history, but is also relevant to contemporary debates about museum deaccessioning and the repatriation of cultural objects.

Distributed for the M.T. Abraham Center for the Visual Arts Foundation

Read more

Norman Rockwell

332 Magazine Covers

By

A magnificent new printing of this classic album of Norman Rockwell’s best-loved works with full-color captions.

There are few more satisfying sights on a city street than a well-stocked newsstand, hung with a hundred or more magazines and periodicals, each competing for the attention of the potential customer. The American magazine cover enjoyed a Golden Age during the period that opened with the high-speed color press, and ended when subscription sales grew to paramount importance. Dozens of gifted artists made their reputations in this field. None of them, however, achieved the immense and sustained popular success enjoyed by Norman Rockwell.

Although technically he was an academic painter, he had the eye of a photographer and, as he became a mature artist, he used this eye to give us a picture of America that was familiar—astonishingly so—and at the same time unique. The picture seemed familiar because it was everyone’s dream of America; it was unique because only Rockwell managed to bring it to life with such authority. Rockwell held up a friendly mirror to the society he lived in, and Americans have looked into this glass and seen themselves as warm, decent, hard-working citizens of a country bountiful enough to accommodate their boundless optimism.

Rockwell best expressed this vision of America in his justly famous cover illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post, painted between 1916 and 1963. All of his Post covers are reproduced in splendid full color in this oversized volume, with commentaries by Christopher Finch, the noted writer on art and popular culture.

In this latest printing of332 Magazine Covers, the thumbnail images accompanying Finch’s descriptive captions are printed in full color for the convenience of the reader, and the typography has been refreshed.

Read more

Greek and Roman Mosaics

By

A masterly overview of a rich and varied ancient art, illustrated in vibrant color

Mosaic has been called “painting for eternity,” and it is in fact one of the few arts of antiquity to survive in something like its original condition and variety. Mosaic pavements with geometric and figural motifs first appeared in Greece at the end of the fifth century BC and subsequently spread throughout the entire classical world, from the palaces of the Greco-Bactrian rulers of present-day Afghanistan to the villas of Roman Britain. Local workshops cultivated many distinctive regional styles, while traveling teams of Hellenistic craftsmen produced figural mosaics of stunning refinement, often modeled after famous paintings; indeed, their work constitutes one of our only records of classical Greek painting, which has been almost entirely lost.

The styles and techniques of the ancient mosaicist’s art are given a concise yet authoritative exposition in the first part of this handsome volume. The second, and larger, part conducts the reader on a chronological tour of the most important centers of the art form’s development, from the Macedonian capital of Pella, whose compositions in natural pebbles set a high artistic standard for mosaics at the very beginning of their history, to the Basilica of San Vitale at Ravenna, whose wall and vault mosaics, with their glittering vision of a triumphant Christianity, mark the transition between antiquity and the Middle Ages. Special attention is given to Pompeii and its surroundings, where the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 preserved intact an astonishing variety of mosaics, including such ambitious figural scenes as the famous Alexander mosaic, composed of some four million miniscule tesserae, as well as characteristically Roman pavements in black and white, and the brightly colored wall mosaics of garden grottoes.

Featuring more than two hundred newly commissioned photographs, Greek and Roman Mosaics is the first survey of its subject to be illustrated in full color. It will be a necessary addition to every art lover’s library, and a worthy companion to Abbeville’s Italian Mosaics: 300–1300.

Read more

Renaissance Intarsia

Masterpieces of Wood Inlay

The first moden survey of a fascinating yet underappreciated art form, abundantly illustrated with new color photography

Among the so-called “minor arts” that flourished in the Italian Renaissance, perhaps the most astounding in its virtuosity was that of intarsia, or wood inlay, in which countless pieces of wood of various species were fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle so as to form exquisite pictures. The masters of intarsia adopted the newly developed technique of linear perspective to depict their characteristic themes, namely, cityscapes viewed through an archway and illusionistic renderings of half-open cabinets filled with liturgical or scholarly equipment. At first these enchanting scenes in wood were found mainly in ecclesiastical settings—on choir stalls and altar frontals, and in sacristies—but by the later Quattrocento they were also used to decorate the studioli, or private studies, of powerful secular patrons. Eventually, in the Cinquecento, intarsists began to push the limits of their medium with figural scenes of ever-greater complexity; this ambitious yet perhaps quixotic attempt to rival the art of painting led to many technical and aesthetic innovations, but also to an abandonment of intarsia’s natural strengths and its ultimate decline as an independent art.

In this volume, a team of noted Italian art historians trace the evolution of Renaissance intarsia through a discussion of twelve of the most important intarsia cycles. These include the famous studiolo of Federico da Montefeltro in the ducal palace at Urbino; the sacristy of Santa Maria in Organo at Verona, which Vasari described as the most beautiful in all of Italy; and the choir of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo, the cartoons for which were prepared by Lorenzo Lotto. Drawing on the latest scholarship and, in some cases, newly discovered documentary evidence, the authors explain the historical context and iconography of these masterpieces, as well as their connections to the painting, sculpture, and architecture of the time. Their insightful essays are illustrated with some two hundred new color images, the result of an extensive photographic campaign carried out exclusively for this work.

Admirably filling in a unique chapter of art history, Renaissance Intarsia will be essential reading for scholars and enthusiasts of art, and a powerful source of inspiration for contemporary artists and craftsmen.

Read more

The Grand Medieval Bestiary

The Animal in Illuminated Manuscripts

A splendid pageant of the animal kingdom as the Middle Ages saw it, illustrated with miniatures of every period and style, many never before published

As the 587 colorful images in this magnificent volume reveal, animals were a constant—and delightful—presence in illuminated manuscripts throughout the Middle Ages. Many proto-zoological illustrations, of great charm but variable accuracy, are found in the bestiaries, or compendiums of animal lore, that were exceedingly popular in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. But animals are depicted in every other sort of illuminated manuscript as well, from the eighth-century Echternach Gospels, with its geometrically schematized symbols of the Evangelists, to the early fifteenth-century Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, with its famously naturalistic scenes of peasant and aristocratic life.

In his insightful opening chapters, the noted art historian Christian Heck explains that the prevalence of animals in illuminated manuscripts reflects their importance in medieval thought, an importance due in part to the agricultural society of that age, in which a variety of species—and not just docile pets—were the daily companions of man. Animals also had a greater symbolic significance than they do today: in popular fables, such as those of Reynard the Fox, they held up a mirror to the follies of mankind, and on the religious plane, they were understood as an integral part of God’s creation, whose attributes and behaviors could be taken as clues to His plan of salvation.

The main part of the book explores the complex and fascinating iconography of the individual creatures most frequently depicted by medieval miniaturists. It is arranged in the manner of a proper bestiary, with essays on one hundred animals alphabetized by their Latin names, from the alauda, or lark, whose morning song was thought to be a hymn to Creation, to the vultur, which enjoyed a certain respect due to its impressive appearance, but whose taste for carrion also made it a symbol of the sinner who indulges in worldly pleasures. The selection includes a number of creatures that would now be considered fantastic, including the griffin, the manticore, and of course the fabled unicorn, tamable only by a gentle maiden. Not merely a study of art history, The Grand Medieval Bestiary uses a theme of timeless interest to present a panorama of medieval life and thought that will captivate even the most sophisticated modern reader.

Read more

Pieter Bruegel

By

This fascinating full-length study examines all works by the great Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel within the wider setting of art during his lifetime.

The recent rediscovery in Spain of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s lost painting, The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day, has created even more interest in this much-loved artist, who was one of the Netherlands’ two great masters of satire and fantasy, along with Hieronymus Bosch. Although these two artists never met each other—Bruegel was born around 1525, a decade after Bosch’s death—numerous features link them; indeed, Bruegel painted several demon-infested hellscapes directly inspired by the older master, and he was known in Antwerp as a “second Bosch.” But Bruegel is most famous for his peasant scenes, often humorous and packed with anecdote, and for his landscapes, which poignantly evoke Nature’s changing seasons. His legacy to Netherlandish art was the enduring popularity of both these genres, as well as the artistic dynasty he founded, beginning with his painter sons Pieter the Younger and Jan Brueghel.

Critics have often remarked how Bruegel’s art, so keenly observed and richly detailed, seems to preserve a world in miniature. In this new monograph, Larry Silver, an eminent historian of Northern Renaissance art, serves as our guide to that world. He leads us expertly through Bruegel’s complex and fascinating iconography, allowing us to see his paintings and drawings from the same perspective as his sixteenth-century countrymen. Silver situates Bruegel within the visual culture of his time—exploring, for example, his relationship with the print publisher Hieronymus Cock—and within the broader context of Netherlandish history. All of Bruegel’s surviving paintings are reproduced here, with many full-page details, as well as all of his prints and representative works by his contemporaries and followers.

This volume on Bruegel complements Silver’s widely praised monograph on Hieronymus Bosch, which was published by Abbeville Press in 2006. These two books are the most authoritative and best-illustrated studies of their respective subjects, and together they present us with a panorama of Netherlandish art’s emergence into the distinctive form of the Northern Renaissance.

Read more

The Carving of Mount Rushmore

By

The first book to tell the complete story of Rushmore.

Now as an e-book, The Carving of Mount Rushmore tells the complete story of the largest and certainly the most spectacular sculpture in existence. More than 60 black-and-white photographs offer unique views of this gargantuan effort, and author Rex Alan Smith—a man born and raised within sight of Rushmore—recounts with the sensitivity of a native son the ongoing struggles of sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his workers.

Read more

Masterpieces of Classical Chinese Painting

A beautifully designed album of the finest paintings from collections across China.

This oversized volume presents 105 important paintings in chronological order, from the Eastern Jin dynasty (AD 317–420) to the end of the nineteenth century. These masterworks range from brightly colored and crisply delineated Buddhist frescoes to the muted yet evocative ink-wash landscapes of the literati painters. Each spread is devoted to a single painting: on the verso the work is reproduced in full, with a narrative caption that describes its style, iconography, and historical context; and on the recto there appears a gorgeously printed full-page detail that allows the reader to appreciate the true qualities of the work. A general historical introduction skillfully traces the development of the three major genres of Chinese painting—figurative, landscape, and bird-and-flower—through each successive dynasty.

The reader’s enjoyment of the artistic treasures gathered within these pages will be heightened by the refined luxury of the book’s design. Printed on a premium paper whose subtle texture recalls the feel of silk, it is crafted in the traditional Chinese manner, with folded leaves and a hand-sewn thread binding. Its soft covers are protected by an elegant wraparound case stamped in gold. A worthy monument to a great cultural tradition, Masterpieces of Classical Chinese Painting will appeal to lovers of both fine editions and fine art.

Zheng Xinmiao is director of the Palace Museum in Beijing. Zhang Hongxing is a senior curator and researcher at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Shao Jingjing is a curator at the National Museum of China. Guo Guang is general manager of CYPI Press. Zhang Bo is a historian of Ming and Qing dynasty art. Jiang Peng is an expert in scroll paintings of the Song through Qing dynasties. Li Lin, director of the Department of Art History at Luxun Academy of Fine Arts, specializes in the earlier history of Chinese painting.

Read more

The History of Rome in Painting

By

A sumptuously illustrated history of the Eternal City—the capital of Italy and world art—as captured by painters from the Antiquity through the twentieth century.

Traditionally founded by its namesake Romulus in 753 BC, Rome began modestly, as a little village of thatched huts on the Palatine Hill. By the third century BC, it controlled the entire Italian peninsula, and by the first century BC, much of the known world. Rome’s fortunes have stumbled more than once since then—indeed, there have famously been times when cows grazed on the Forum—but it has always reemerged as a leading city, thanks to its status as the seat of Christendom. Through the centuries, artists from all over Europe have been drawn to Rome, both to work in the service of the Church and to learn from the accumulated masterpieces.

This luxuriously oversized book uses Rome’s artistic riches to chronicle the eventful history of the city itself. We are shown the customs and beliefs of the ancient Romans through their own frescoes and mosaics, and their greatest deeds in the history paintings of later masters such as Poussin and David. We follow the fitful rise of Rome, which eventually blossoms forth into the supreme achievements of Michelangelo and Raphael. With eyes uplifted to frescoed vaults, we watch the great decorators of the Baroque add to the city’s store of monuments, which are then deftly—and sometimes quite imaginatively—recorded by the vedutisti of the eighteenth century. Finally, in canvases by a surprising range of nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists—from Sargent to de Chirico, and even de Kooning—we see Rome in its role as the capital of a unified Italy, and of the modern Western imagination.

With its more than three hundred full-color illustrations, including four spectacular gatefolds; its insightful text, written by leading art historians; and its valuable apparatus, including capsule biographies of 175 artists; The History of Rome in Painting is an important achievement in scholarship and publishing and a fitting tribute to the Eternal City. Like its predecessors The History of Venice in Painting and The History of Paris in Painting, it belongs in every art lover’s library.

Read more

Italian Mosaics

300 - 1300

By

A prequel to the extraordinary, highly praised Italian Frescoes series from Abbeville Press, this stunning volume features one thousand years of important Italian mosaics.

Ever since their emergence as a major art form in the Hellenistic era, mosaics have been prized for the glittering radiance of their colors, their permanent, almost eternal nature, and the painstaking craftsmanship required to create them. In late antique and medieval Italy, mosaics were the most important medium for monumental religious art, just as frescoes would be in the Renaissance. In fact, the mosaics that adorn the fourth to sixth-century churches, baptisteries, and mausoleums of Rome, Ravenna, Naples, and Milan are among the first examples of Christian pictorial art on a grand scale. These early works were still indebted to classical conventions, but as the Middle Ages progressed, Italian mosaics came to more clearly reflect a Christian, transcendentalist worldview. Their style usually also displayed a strong Byzantine influence; indeed, in the final flowering of the art in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, many Italian mosaics were actually executed by Byzantine craftsmen.

Italian Mosaics, 300–1300 opens with a concise history of the mosaicist’s art in the millennium under consideration, tying together the strands of style, iconography, technique, and cultural context. The central part of the book examines nineteen celebrated mosaic cycles in detail, including those of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, the Basilica di Santa Prassede in Rome, and the Cathedral of Monreale near Palermo. Each cycle is introduced by a descriptive and interpretive essay and then illustrated in its entirety in a series of stunning full- and double-page color photographs, most of which were specially commissioned for this volume.

The first survey of its subject to be published, Italian Mosaics will stand alongside Abbeville’s Italian Frescoes series as an essential addition to the literature on art history.

Read more

Pre-Columbian Architecture in Mesoamerica

By

An authoritative and magnificently illustrated survey of Mesoamerican architecture from pre-Olmec times to the Spanish conquest.

This important book, prepared by leading contemporary archaeologists working under the aegis of Mexico’s prestigious Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Historia, begins with an overview of the aesthetics, symbolism, and techniques of Mesoamerican architecture. The succeeding chapters survey the historical development of architecture in each of the region’s cultural areas in turn, describing the achievements of the Olmecs, the Maya, the Teotihuacanos, the Aztecs, and many other groups. The concluding chapter is devoted to the descriptions of architecture that have survived in Maya and Aztec texts; it includes a unique and valuable glossary of the relevant glyphs.

The main text of this handsome volume is illustrated with color photographs of the spectacular remains of pyramids, palaces, and plazas, while a scholarly appendix presents maps, plans, and drawings of the most important sites and structures.

With its authoritative essays and wealth of pictorial material, Pre-Columbian Architecture in Mesoamerica is destined to become a standard reference for the serious student and a source of intellectual delight for the curious amateur. There is no other survey of the entire Mesoamerican region that focuses exclusively on the architectural achievements of its native peoples.

Read more