Art and Design: Art History

Michelangelo

The Vatican Frescoes

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For the first time ever, Michelangelo's complete Vatican masterpiece is shown in the vivid colors of its recent restoration. This comprehensive history of the painting of the Sistine Chapel catalogs each fresco image in detail.

The restoration of Michelangelo's magnificent frescoes in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel is perhaps the most controversial event in the art world in the past three decades. Now, after nearly fifteen years of effort, the restoration is finally complete. This unique volume-the first to document the project-is the result of an unparalleled international photographic campaign. For the first time, the restored Chapel is shown in its entirety, from the Creation to the Last Judgment. Glorious, full-color photographs-250 in all-portray the frescoes both before and after their restoration, providing an unforgettable view of the meticulous work that many believe restored the frescoes to their original High Renaissance splendor.

Originally created in the late 1400s, the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel are the best-known of all the Vatican masterpieces. As early as 1502, however, tourists began noting the damage wrought by smoke and crumbling walls. By 1980 the need for conservation appeared to be dire. The restoration team had to contend with centuries of decay-structural fractures in the walls and ceilings, soot and dust accumulation, and rainwater seepage that left white patches on every surface. Artisans in previous centuries had made attempts at conservation, but often did more harm than good; the frescoes were found to be coated with many layers of "protective" glue that had yellowed and darkened with age. Though many art historians opposed the restoration, believing that Michelangelo was a somber artist who worked in dark and muted colors, the endeavor presents frescoes that are gloriously vivid, setting the chapel aglow with their brilliance. In addition, they provide new insights about Michelangelo's brushstroke techniques, and add more information to a centuries-old debate over how he worked with the wet plaster surface of the frescoes.

Written with Gianluigi Colalucci, the technical overseer of the restoration, the text provides an intimate understanding of this masterpiece of Renaissance art. It explains the various forensic studies carried out in the course of the project, the pragmatic concerns of the restoration, and the many problems of historical approach that were confronted. This volume, including remarkable new pictures of the Chapel frescoes, belongs in the libraries of every art historian and student of the Italian Renaissance.

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Italian Frescoes: The Early Renaissance

1400-1470

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The first comprehensive survey in modern times of the surviving fresco cycles of the early Renaissance, this path-blazing work is an extraordinary achievement in scholarship and publishing.

Certain Italian fresco cycles, notably the Brancacci Chapel in Florence by Masaccio, Masolino, and Filippino Lippi, are well known. Others, such as Piero della Francesca's work in Arezzo and Benozzo Gozzoli's Chapel of the Magi in Florence, have been reproduced countless times. Yet no publisher — until now — has attempted to gather together and document in extensive photographs the essential fresco cycles of the early Italian Renaissance. The list of works covers the regions of Italy, from the Alpine mountain areas to Puglia, with an emphasis on Tuscany and Florence, the artistic center that gave life to the Renaissance.

Italian Frescoes: The Early Renaissance opens with a concise introductory text discussing various aspects of fifteenth-century fresco painting: artists, patronage, cultural and historical conditions, technical methods, and questions of local tradition. The central section of the book examines twenty-one fresco cycles, each representing a crowning achievement in this field. A descriptive and interpretive essay introduces each cycle and is followed by a series of full-page and double-page color plates-many of them new photography of recently restored frescoes-covering the entire work.This parade of colorful masterpieces, paired with Steffi Roettgen's authoritative text, makes a brilliant volume that will be treasured by scholars and art lovers alike.

A second volume, Professor Roettgen's Italian Frescoes: The Flowering of the Renaissance, continues the story with works by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, and many others.

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The Art of Light and Space

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A fascinating investigation of Light and Space art by Robert Irwin, Maria Nordman, James Turrell, Doug Wheeler, and others.

Ethereal and evocative, the art of Light and Space pushes the viewer beyond the everyday limits of perception. It takes many different forms and uses many different materials, ranging from natural daylight and scrim to glass, plywood, neon, and fire. It taps into far-ranging ideas and systems of knowledge, including alchemy, Buddhism, aerospace technology, witchcraft, astronomy, physiology, and phenomenology.

Written by the foremost authority on the subject and based on more than two decades of research, The Art of Light and Space is the first book to provide an overview of this powerful and increasingly public art form. With rare photographs, extensive artist interviews, and her own insightful observations, Jan Butterfield vividly documents the history of this diverse and sometimes elusive work.

Following a useful introduction that succinctly places the art of Light and Space in the larger context of modern art, the book is divided into ten chapters, each focused on one artist: Robert Irwin, James Turrell, Maria Nordman, Douglas Wheeler, Bruce Nauman, Eric Orr, Larry Bell, DeWain Valentine, Susan Kaiser Vogel, and Hap Tivey. Insightful portrait photographs by Jim McHugh open each chapter and capture the quirky individuality of these inexhaustibly creative men and women. The innovative graphic design emphasizes the artists' own words, both in sidebars and in the text, making their voices unusually accessible.

No two artists have followed the same path, but in many cases the work has become increasingly approachable in recent years. Architects and urban planners have begun to incorporate Light and Space installations into public spaces ranging from the Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C., to the new building in Pasadena, California. Corporate, nonprofit, and private collectors have commissioned numerous major works, including a solar fountain in Denver, a tea house in Paris, and a fire-and-steam sculpture on a busy Los Angeles street corner.

The processes of creating the works seen here are as intriguing as the final results, and all are illuminated by the text, the illustrations, and the design of this provocative, invaluable volume.

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The Spiritual In Art

Abstract Painting, 1890-1985

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Well-reasoned and well-written, this massive and profusely illustrated volume has transformed the study of abstract art.

From the 1890s through the present day, various forms of spirituality have influenced artists and inspired many important transitions from representational art to abstraction. Mystical and speculative philosophies with origins in both eastern and western cultures, as well as other utopian ideas, have been at the heart of the groundbreaking work of Paul Gauguin, Vasily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Georgia O'Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, and Joseph Beuys.Published in conjunction with an exhibition organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, this collection of essays by over a dozen distinguished art historians reveals the many aspects of this profound undercurrent of abstract art.

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Artspoke

A Guide to Modern Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1848-1944

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This successor to the phenomenally popular Artspeak: A Guide To Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords chronicles international art from realism through surrealism.

An invaluable guide through the intricacies of the first century of modern art, ArtSpoke features the same lucid prose, thought-provoking ideas, user-friendly organization, and striking design as its predecessor, ArtSpeak: A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords.

Chronicling international art from Realism through Surrealism, ArtSpoke explains such popular but often misunderstood movements and organizations as Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, the Salon, the Fauves, the Harlem Renaissance, and so on—as well as events ranging from the 1913 Armory Show to Brazil's little-known Semana de Arte Moderna. Concise explanations of potentially perplexing techniques, media, and philosophies of art making-including automatism, calotype, found object, Pictorialism, and Readymade-provide information essential to understanding how artists of this era worked and why the results look the way they do. Entries on concepts that were crucial to the development of modern art—such as androgyny, dandyism, femme fatale, spiritualism, and many others—distinguish this lively guide from any other art dictionary on the market.

Also unique to this volume is the ArtChart, a handy one-page chronological diagram of the groups discussed in the book. In addition, there is a scene-setting timeline of world history and art history from 1848 to 1944, overflowing with invaluable information and illustrated with twenty-four color reproductions.

Students, specialists, and casual art lovers will all find ArtSpoke an essential addition to their reference shelves and a welcome companion on visits to museums and galleries.

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Versailles

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Exhaustively researched and opulently illustrated, this lavish volume is certain to become the standard work on the fabulous chateau of the French monarchy.

In this opulently illustrated volume, the eminent French architectural historian Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos traces the transformation of Louis XIII's modest hunting lodge into the fabulous château we know today as the extravagant height of the French monarchy. Robert Polidori's sublime photographs show Versailles' architecture, interiors, and gardens, from sweeping aerial views, to grandiose views of the elaborately decorated palace ceilings, to intimate photographs of the paintings and sculptures that grace the walls and gardens. The exquisite artistry of each carefully considered decorative detail reveals Versailles in all its magnificence.

The photographs show all the beauty and ornate decoration of Versailles, in every season and from every possible perspective. Polidori presents quiet, warmly-lit landscapes of the gardens and pools, dramatic visions of the colonnades, and expansive views of the vast, airy, luxurious salons. The text is a scholarly study of the history of the evolving aesthetic of this remarkable palace, attesting not only to its importance as the ultimate expression of European absolutism but also to its significance as an experimental design workshop that was to become widely influential.

 

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Minimalism

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The effects and influence of minimalism--the art movement in which artists removed personal expression and decorative detail from their work--continue to be felt today as art produced by its proponents continues to be exhibited and artists continue to use the style.

The great movements of modern art, among them Impressionism, Surrealism, Cubism, and Abstract Expressionism, have challenged rather than accommodated critics and public. None more so than Minimalism, which unrelentingly questioned not only the nature of art, but also the place of art in society-especially the capitalist society of the United States.Beginning in the 1960s, artists like Frank Stella, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Robert Smithson, Walter De Maria, Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier, Eva Hesse, Robert Grosvenor, and Joel Shapiro reacted against what they saw as the flamboyance of Abstract Expressionism, seeking instead materials, forms, and procedures that explicitly do not convey the personal touch of the fabricator.

Many observers have judged the artworks that resulted obstinately cerebral and unapproachable-or, worse, barren beyond the point of tedium.Others have recognized that these works are, in fact, revolutionary, embodying an elemental immediacy unprecedented in Western art. Giving no quarter to complacent illusion and habits of perception, the Minimalists pushed aesthetic thought deeply into the crust of unexamined ideas that most of us take for granted as cultural terra firma.

In this volume, illustrated with works ranging from small-scale sculpture and hermetic paintings to vast "earthworks," Kenneth Baker, the award-winning art critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, explores the history and challenge of Minimalism in the context not only of the trends it succeeded, but of those that have succeeded it.

Minimalism: Art of Circumstance is one of those rare essays of critical insight that combine a comprehensive point of view with a revisionist spirit; for, in unfolding the history of his subject, Baker finally challenges the very notion of a "minimalist movement." The result is provocative, and in today's wildly pluralistic post-modern art world, this volume is living history-in fact, required reading.

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Chinese Calligraphy

From Pictograph to Ideogram: The History of 214 Essential Chinese/Japanese Characters

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An illuminating history of 214 Chinese/Japanese calligraphic characters.

Written Chinese can call upon about 40,000 characters, many of which originated some 6,000 years ago as little pictures of everyday objects used by the ancients to communicate with one another. To convey more abstract ideas or concepts, the Chinese stylized and combined their pictographs. For instance, the character for “man”—a straight back above two strong legs—becomes, with the addition of a head and shoulders and arms held sternly akimbo, the character for “official.” This book, modeled after a classic compilation of the Chinese language done in the 18th century, introduces readers to the 214 root pictographs or symbols upon which this writing system, whose rich complexities hold a wealth of cultural meaning, is based. These key characters, called radicals, are all delightfully presented in this volume, with their graphic development traced stage-by-stage to the present representation, where even now (in many of them) one can easily make out what was originally pictured—with the author’s guidance. Centuries ago, when the Japanese took up writing, they also adopted these symbols, though they gave them different names in their own spoken language.

Each of the 214 classic radicals is charmingly explored by the author, both for its etymology and for what it reveals about Chinese history and culture. Chinese characters are marvels of graphic design, and this book even shows the proper way to write each radical, stroke by stroke. Finally, there are also samples of each radical combined with other radicals and character elements to demonstrate how new characters are formed—some 8,000 have been added to the language since the eighteenth century. With all its expertly executed calligraphic illustrations and fascinating commentary, this book serves as an excellent introduction to Chinese writing and its milieu.

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Old Master Paintings in North America

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Old Master Paintings in North America reveals the astonishing variety and quality of North American collections, the results of over one hundred years of inspired collecting by individual collectors and public institutions. It may be no surprise that the Metropolitan Museum and the Frick Collection in New York and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. have a large number of El Grecos, for example. But how many of us are aware that works by El Greco can also be found in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California; Sarasota, Florida; Glen Falls, New York; and in Ottawa and Montreal?

The only guide of its kind, Old Master Paintings in North America provides a complete and fully captioned listing of every painting in U.S. and Canadian collections by fifty selected old master painters–from the early Renaissance to the mid-nineteenth century. This volume also contains a valuable geographical index which provides vital museum-going information: addresses, hours, and admission fees, as well as listing of other important painters represented in the museums.

In addition to helping the reader locate these masterpieces, Old Master Painting in North America also provides the means for more fully enjoying these great treasures. The author, Mr. John Morse–a noted art historian and critic–provides brief biographical entries for each of the fifty painters, and longer essays analyzing the significance of their work. The book is lavishly illustrated with large full-page color plates as well as over one hundred black-and-white illustrations. This book is not only for the tourist, but also for the armchair traveler who can also enjoy the wonderful treasures in North America’s museums.

Old Master Paintings in North America is a beautiful addition to anyone’s art-book library, and an indispensable companion for the art-living traveler, for the student and scholar.

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