Art and Design: Artist Monographs

Karen Gunderson

The Dark World of Light

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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.

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Giotto

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The definitive monograph on the greatest painter of the early Renaissance, now available in an affordable paperback edition

Giotto is traditionally considered a founder of the Italian Renaissance, praised for his understanding of space and the human body. Producing a series of commissioned works for the church and upper classes in his native Tuscany and surrounding regions, Giotto (c. 1267–1337) changed the course of European art by breaking away from the stiff, predictable figures of the Byzantine and medieval traditions. His great fresco cycles, most notably the lives of the Virgin and Christ in the Scrovegni (or Arena) Chapel, Padua, are filled with realistic depictions of three-dimensional figures set in dramatic, even revolutionary, perspectival spaces.

In this authoritative survey of Giotto's life and work, Francesca Flores d'Arcais draws on a broad range of sources, from fourteenth-century documents to recent art-historical investigations. Her research leads her to important reattributions of Giottesque paintings and to new conclusions regarding the execution and dating of both famous and lesser-known works. In this second edition of her study, d'Arcais also discusses the earthquake of September 26, 1997, that damaged the frescoes of the Upper Basilica of San Francisco in Assisi, some of which are attributed to the young Giotto. Now available in a paperback edition at an irresistible price, Giotto combines splendid images and d'Arcais's insightful text in the definitive monograph on the greatest of trecento masters.

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Rodin

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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.

 

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Pieter Bruegel

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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.

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Caravaggio

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2nd Edition

Every extant work by Caravaggio is reproduced in color in this lavish newly updated volume, the long-awaited result of more than 20 years of research by a leading authority on the artist.

In an engaging and informed text, John T. Spike explores in detail Caravaggio's scandalous life and provocative work. Placing Caravaggio within the broad panorama of society and ideas at the turn of the 17th century, the author sets a richly detailed stage for an artist who has been called "the first modern painter." Caravaggio (1571-1610) reflected in his canvases his own desires and spiritual crises to an extent no one ever had imagined possible, and he shocked his contemporaries by portraying the saints and virgins of Christianity with the faces and bodies of his companions and lovers in Rome's demimonde.

Accompanying the book is a critical catalog on CD-ROM in which all of Caravaggio's extant paintings, as well as lost and rejected works, are thoroughly described. Each entry specifies the work's medium, dimensions, location, and provenance, and provides an annotated bibliography of sources. Most of the entries conclude with a brief technical analysis. Much of this scientific data, of prime importance for attribution and dating, has not previously been published.

With its fresh insights, as well as judicious readings of the documents and the physical evidence of the paintings themselves, Caravaggio is the most thorough study on the artist to date, and it will no doubt remain a definitive monograph for many years to come.

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Renoir

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The definitive monograph on one of the world's best-loved artists, sumptuously illustrated in full color.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919) stands out among the great artists for his willingness to paint pictures that are straightforwardly pretty and charming: he chooses familiar and sympathetic human types as his subjects, and depicts them with an appealing immediacy, using an attractively bright and rosy palette. Not all of his four thousand or so paintings are equally good; some fall short on formal grounds, and others, not surprisingly, sink into sentimentality. But Renoir's best works are masterpieces, perhaps the most joyous and effervescent ones in the history of art—his great monuments to leisure, Dancing at the Moulin de la Galette and Luncheon of the Boating Party; his delicate portraits of women and children, like the winsome Girl with a Watering Can; and his many frankly sensual nudes.

In this highly readable monograph, noted art historian Anne Distel offers an illuminating new account of the life of the man who created such singularly sparkling works. The author deftly narrates Renoir’s rise from apprentice porcelain painter to celebrated artist, quoting judiciously from the painter’s own vivid letters and offering keen analyses of his style at each stage of his sixty-year career. And Distel does not consider that career in isolation, but uses the latest discoveries in the documentary evidence—some of them her own—to re-create the artistic and social milieus in which Renoir worked. She traces his relationships with other artists, both his fellow Impressionists and older contemporaries like Corot and Daubigny as well as the younger Bonnard, Matisse, and Picasso; with writers like Zola, Mallarmé, and Mirbeau; and, in particular, with the dealers and patrons who were so important to his career, like Paul Durand-Ruel, Ambroise Vollard, the Bernheim brothers, the Charpentiers, the Berards, Charles Ephrussi, and Dr. Barnes.

Distel's authoritative text is illustrated throughout with some three hundred beautiful color reproductions of the artist’s finest and most representative works, ensuring that this will be the Renoir monograph of reference for years to come.

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Courbet

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An insightful new survey of the wide-ranging body of work of the most important French realist painter.

When Gustave Courbet (1819–1877) began his career in the late 1840s, French painting was dominated by two competing styles: neoclassicism, exemplified by Ingres, and romanticism, exemplified by Delacroix. Courbet, a dynamic and boundlessly selfconfident man, proud of his rural origins and guided by his strong Republican beliefs, quickly established a third way.

Rejecting the historical and literary subjects of the prevailing styles as too remote from actual experience, Courbet instead depicted scenes of everyday life, particularly among the peasants and the working class, with a naturalism then considered shocking. His paint handling was correspondingly direct: disdaining equally the idealized contours and cool tones of the neoclassicists and the expressive line of the romantics, he laid on his colors almost roughly, often with a palette knife instead of a brush. While Courbet’s brand of realism bears a family resemblance to those of his contemporaries Daumier and Millet, its scope is much broader: his masterworks range from the Burial at Ornans (1850), a heroically scaled depiction of a villager’s funeral, to the very different Origin of the World (1866), a detailed close-up of the female anatomy, and he also painted many straight landscapes, portraits, and still lifes.

This lucidly written monograph from noted art historian Ségolène Le Men provides a new understanding of how Courbet’s life and milieu shaped his vast oeuvre. Le Men organizes her text both chronologically and thematically: while the five chapters correspond to the successive phases of Courbet’s career, each comprises several subsections that discuss individual aspects of his work. This hybrid approach allows Le Men to present an expansive and multifaceted view of Courbet’s realism, emphasizing its evolving relations with the various ideas and artistic currents of its time. With some three hundred stunning color illustrations, including all of Courbet’s most important paintings and many fine examples of his draftsmanship, this is the definitive study of a painter whose spirited pursuit of an independent aesthetic path has led many critics to call him “the first modern artist.”

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Hieronymus Bosch

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A stunningly illustrated, groundbreaking exploration of the work of the Low Countries' great visionary painter.

Four hundred little people frolic au naturel with overgrown songbirds and raspberries; a pudgy blue demon serenades a fashionable young couple with a tune piped through his own elongated nose; a knife-wielding set of disembodied ears stalks the damned through hell. The phantasmagoric imagery of Hieronymus Bosch (d. 1516) has been the source of widespread interest ever since the painter’s lifetime, and is still so enigmatic that scholars have theorized that it contains hidden astrological, alchemical, or even heretical meanings. Yet none of these theories has ever seemed to provide an adequate understanding of Bosch’s work. Moreover, the considerable professional success that the artist enjoyed in his native Hertogenbosch, not to mention his membership in a traditional religious organization, suggests that he pursued not a sinister secret agenda but simply his personal artistic vision.

This intriguing new monograph by noted art historian Larry Silver interprets that artistic vision with admirable lucidity: it explains how Bosch’s understanding of human sin, morality, and punishment, which was conceived in an era of powerful apocalyptic expectation, shaped his dramatic visualizations of hell and of the temptations of even the most steadfast saints. Silver’s account of Bosch’s artistic development is one of the first to benefit from recent technical investigations of the paintings, as well as from the reexamination of the artist’s drawings in relation to his paintings. Hieronymus Bosch is also unique in how securely it places its subject’s work in the broader history of painting in the Low Countries: Silver identifies sources of Bosch’s iconography in a wide range of fifteenth-century panel paintings, manuscript illuminations, and prints, and describes how, despite their own religiousness, Bosch’s pictures helped inspire the secular landscape and genre scenes of later Netherlandish painters. Augmented by 310 illustrations, most in color, including many dramatic close-ups of Bosch’s intricately imagined nightmare scenes, this is the definitive book on a perennially fascinating artist.

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Joel Perlman: A Sculptor's Journey

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An elegantly produced volume which illustrates celebrated American metal sculptor Joel Perlman’s finest works and relates them to his fascinating life story.

-- WINNER of the New York Book Show Award

This handsomely illustrated book is the first monograph devoted to the work of Joel Perlman (b. 1943), an acclaimed sculptor in steel and bronze, whose works are represented in the permanent collections of America’s top museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Perlman’s best works from the 1970s to the present day — from the austerely abstract Chevy Short (For Jeannie Day), shown at the 1973 Whitney Biennial, to the lyrical Sky Spirit, a monumental commission completed in 2004 — are depicted in here in stunning full-page photographs, most in full color.

All readers with an interest in contemporary sculpture will appreciate not only the book’s striking illustrations but also its thoughtfully written text, which relates Perlman’s art to his life. Author Philip F. Palmedo, drawing on extensive interviews with his subject and his subject’s colleagues, engagingly describes how each chapter of Perlman’s life — from his early days of teaching alongside Kenneth Noland and Jules Olitski in the Bennington College art department to his struggle, ultimately very successful, to establish himself in SoHo’s vibrant 1970s art scene — served to strengthen his commitment to his own abstract, Modernist aesthetic.

This thoughtful narrative, which seamlessly synthesizes Perlman’s intimate art-world anecdotes and Palmedo’s own keen critical observations, is beautifully complemented by an insightful foreword by renowned art dealer André Emmerich, whose gallery represented Perlman for twenty years.

 

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Ray Ellis in Retrospect

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The first retrospective of the work of Ray Ellis, a celebrated American artist acclaimed for his paintings of Martha's Vineyard and the Lowcountry of Georgia and South Carolina.

With an insightful text by a noted American art specialist and vibrant, color-infused images, this dazzlingly beautiful book reveals the full breadth of Ray Ellis's remarkable career. While Ellis is often described as an Impressionist because of his loose brushwork, bright color, and interest in light and atmosphere, his work is naturalistic and closer to realism.

Equally talented in oils and watercolors, he interprets the many sights and locales he has seen. In addition to marine subjects and coastal landscapes for which he is best known, this volume also presents his finest still lifes and paintings of cityscapes and travels. The works span several decades from the early 1960s through his most recent paintings.

Ray Ellis In Retrospect: A Painter's Journey also includes an illustrated, autobiographical essay by Ray Ellis and a chronology. Now in his eighth decade, Ellis continues to be passionate about painting. Still studying and experimenting, his greatest pleasure is to begin his next work striving to “do the best painting” he has ever done.

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Raphael

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All of Raphael's most important paintings, as well as a significant number of his drawings and engravings, are reproduced in this unmatched, luxurious tribute to one of the most admired artists of the Italian Renaissance.

In his Lives of the Artists, Vasari wrote: "While we may term other works paintings, those of Raphael are living things, the flesh palpitates, the breath comes and goes, every organ lives, life pulsates everywhere."In this lavishly illustrated book featuring some 300 illustrations, the author takes a fresh, critical look at the life and work of Rafaello Sanzio, or as he signed certain paintings, Raphael Urbinas, in homage to his native city of Urbino. Described as "an artist touched by grace," he is considered, along with Michelangelo and Leonardo, to be one of the greatest painters of the Italian Renaissance.

Raphael (14831520), whose birth and death were on a Good Friday, belonged to a family of merchants; aside from his training in the studio of Perugino, little is known about his earliest years. He arrived in Florence in 1504, where he studied the masters and produced magnificent paintings of the Madonna, as well as remarkable portraits. In 1508 he went to Rome, where he died a dozen years later at the height of his powers, after creating monumental works at the Vatican. In a fascinating text De Vecchi reexamines the new scholarship surrounding each of the major periods of Raphael's short career, dispelling the myths about him that have accumulated over the centuries. He reminds us that the most "profound" element of Raphael's art was his striving to express the dialectic between earthly and heavenly love, an important concern of his contemporaries.

The coverage of the text extends beyond the paintings to Raphael's significant work as an architect and designer of interiors. The reference material in the appendix includes a chronology and a bibliography.

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Goya

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Newly revised and lavishly illustrated, this acclaimed study of Spanish master Francisco Goya reveals the artist as a pioneer of modern art and culture.

Stunning color reproductions comprehensively survey Goya's paintings and prints in this essential study of his art and its impact on the modern world. Fred Licht's masterful text, revised and updated for this edition, has been hailed as "brilliant" and "profound," one of the most original and illuminating studies of a modern European artist.Born in 1746 in a small Aragonese town, Goya rose to prominence in Madrid in the period around 1780, being named court painter in 1786. The atrocities of the Napoleonic period and the repressions of the restored Bourbon regime led Goya to paint his greatest works, now recognized as harbingers of modern art. Goya died in exile in France in 1828.

Organized according to the mediums and genres in which the artist worked, Goya is a series of investigations of those aspects of Goya's art that make it especially relevant today. By focusing closely on the work, Licht also illuminates, as few before him have done, the enigmatic personality of this artist, who, as the author affirms, "first fixed the courage and the despair of our modern age."

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John Singer Sargent

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The name of John Singer Sargent evokes images of marvelously gowned Edwardian belles, brooding aristocrats, and princes of industry — insightful portraits executed with dazzling virtuosity.

Sargent's enduring popularity has prompted a thoughtful reappraisal by prominent art critic Carter Ratcliff, who shows us the surprising breadth of the artist's work. Never before has a book so thoroughly represented that variety: 110 lavish color plates and more than 200 halftones convey the brilliance of his portraits, the exuberance of his watercolors, the stately pomp of his murals. It is perhaps the watercolors that are most exciting to contemporary eyes — bold, spontaneous, and vividly hued, they have a breathtaking immediacy.

Born in Florence in 1856 to American parents, Sargent spent a nomadic childhood before going to Paris to study painting. He learned quickly and by the 1880s had begun the steady climb to fame that ultimately placed him at the center of his world, with a circle of friends and rivals that included Henry James, Claude Monet, and James McNeill Whistler. When Sargent died in 1925, a childhood companion wrote in her memorial that "the summing up of a would-be biographer must, I think be: He painted." It is the strikingly beautiful results of that lifelong devotion to his art that glow throughout the pages of this incomparable book.

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William Morris

Animal/Artifact

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Intensely powerful sculptures in glass by an innovative contemporary master.

Internationally acclaimed for his compelling work in glass, William Morris approaches the demands of glassblowing and glass sculpting with an experimental eye and an innovative hand. Morris, who lives and works near Seattle, has collaborated with master glassblowers as well as renowned painters and sculptors in making art that is widely admired by artists, sought by collectors, and praised by critics. For him, glass is an endlessly intriguing material -- fragile yet timeless, preserving the spontaneity of the creative moment unlike any other medium.

In this strikingly handsome volume of recent work, Morris explores themes related to archaeology, animals, and the hunt. His Crows, Ravens, and Rhytons embody his intellectual interest in myth and ancient history, as well as his keenly intuitive understanding of the natural world.

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Bruno Fonseca

The Secret Life of Painting

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Thoughtful texts, juxtaposed with Fonseca's striking images, offer welcome glimpses into the mysteries of how and why an artist creates.

A celebration of a brilliant young artist's tragically short career, this revealing look at Bruno Fonseca's life, unorthodox training, and startlingly diverse paintings, drawings, and sculpture not only casts light on his own impressive work but also offers unusually acute insight into the creative process. The son of a sculptor and a painter mother, Bruno Fonseca grew up in an art-filled Manhattan household and started creating his own art early on. By the age of 18, he had started a rigorous course of study with Augusto Torres in Manhattan, where he maintained a studio until his death at age 36 in 1994.

Alan Jenkins's perceptive musings about the young artist's accomplishments capture Bruno's quirky charm and summon up the complexity of his relationships with family, friends, and the history of art. Karen Wilkin investigates Fonseca's unusually traditional approach to the study of art, based on painstakingly learned ways of seeing and creating that relate more to the 19th-century Academy than to today's conceptualizing, career-chasing art schools. Isabel Fonseca's deeply touching memoir of her brother's childhood and last days brings to life his irresistible spirit and quicksilver intelligence.

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Childe Hassam, Impressionist

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Hassam's impressive career as one of America's foremost Impressionists is celebrated and illuminated in this dazzlingly beautiful volume.

No other American Impressionist ever surpassed the quality and variety of Hassam's output as a painter and draftsman. Equally talented in oils, watercolors, and prints, he explored rain-swept city scenes, glorious gardens, exquisite women, and stirring flag-lined streets. Many of these irresistible pictures are hidden in private collections and are rarely, if ever, accessible to the public; others are on view at major museums across the country, from the Metropolitan Museum to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

By approaching Childe Hassam (1859-1935) from different angles, the three authors reveal this multitalented artist's many facets and uncover previously unknown aspects of his life and work. The authoritative essays are illustrated with a brilliant array of color illustrations that represent all of Hassam's styles, from Barbizon-inspired Tonalism to Impressionism to Post-Impressionism. The book concludes with an invaluable illustrated chronology and an annotated bibliography.

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Chiparus

Master of Art Deco (Second Edition)

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The definitive study of the life and work of Demetre Chiparus—one of Art Deco's greatest sculptors—now expanded with fifty-three new color illustrations.

Born in Romania, Demetre Chiparus (1886-1947) studied in Italy and France before settling in Paris, where he perfected the chryselephantine technique of combining ivory with bronze. Produced as multiples, his works were greatly admired as small-scale decorative objects and today are among the most coveted objects form the Art Deco period, capturing the lively and sensuous spirit of the time.This lavishly illustrated volume examine Chiparus's work as an embodiment of the Art Deco style.

The author explores the various contemporary inspirations for the sculptor's art, including haute couture, the music hall, Diaghilev's ballets, and the stage designs of Leon Bakst. Focusing on Chiparus's bronze and ivory pieces, he outlines their development from idea through finished piece, with illustrations of plasteline models that document the artist's working methods. The book provides much previously unknown information about Chiparus's life; and this new edition also offers an appendix devoted to his newly rediscovered paintings.

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Andrea Del Sarto

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Illustrated with 200 splendid reproductions, this monograph challenges the conventional wisdom about Andrea del Sarto, the most important painter working in Florence when Raphael and Michelangelo were active in Rome.

By returning to original sources, Natali succeeds in introducing a new Andre del Sarto (1486-1530), one whose brilliant and moving pictures leap off the pages with startling freshness. Since the 16th century, Andrea has been pictured as a "timid soul," a view first proposed in Vasari's Lives and perpetuated without revision by later writers. According to this view, the artist was so shy and irresolute that he squandered his gift, living in near obscurity and refusing prosperity and worldly honors.

Not so, says Natali, who argues instead that Andrea chose a simple but culturally vibrant life in a circle of like-minded friends—intellectuals and common folk who practiced material austerity and humility. How, asks Natali, can we label as timid an artist who painted a fresco cycle in Florence's most prestigious sacred institution when he was barely twenty years old? How irresolute was the man who accepted an open-ended invitation from French king Francis I to join his court in an era when few artists left Florence; who—amid rigid orthodoxy and accusations of heresy—filled his sacred paintings with bold theological content; who headed teams of renowned artists in learned artistic debates and in the execution of major commissions? With such provocative insights, this volume is certain to stimulate and delight art historians and non-scholars alike.

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