New Releases

Greek and Roman Mosaics

Centurion Edition

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The best-illustrated survey of a spectacular ancient art, now available in an affordable edition
 
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 classical world, from the palaces of emperors and kings to even relatively modest private homes. Across the Mediterranean, 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 chronologically ordered 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 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 Mount 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 230 vibrant photographs, many newly commissioned, Greek and Roman Mosaics is the first survey of its subject to be illustrated in full color. It will be an essential visual reference for every student of classical antiquity, and a source of considerable delight for art lovers.

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Zen in Japanese Culture

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A visual journey through Zen’s influence on Japanese life, from calligraphy to the martial arts
 
Formed by a convergence of the Buddha’s teachings with Taoism and local tradition, Zen has had a profound impact on the art and culture of Japan. As a philosophy, Zen promotes a recognition of emptiness and impermanence. As an aesthetic, it is marked by striking simplicity and a reverence for space. It operates on the principle of wabi-sabi, the harmony found in all things transient and imperfect. Countless Japanese artists, artisans, and designers have engaged with the Zen tradition, their work the fruit of its wisdom.
 
Author Gavin Blair has spent nearly two decades as a writer and journalist in Japan. In these pages, he shows how Zen has found expression in all aspects of Japanese culture, be it the tea ceremony, origami, or bonsai. Gorgeous full-color photographs highlight the simple beauty of the Zen aesthetic, from the hanging noren curtains that adorn entrances and doorways, to the intricate craftwork of a wagasaumbrella. Together these images speak to the quiet power of Zen.
 
Above all, Zen is an invitation to contemplate the mind, to cultivate harmony with nature and ease through understanding. This book is for any reader who is curious about Japanese culture and the Zen tradition.

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The Last Monk of the Strofades

Memories from an Unknown Greek Island

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The story, in photographs, of the last caretaker of the ancient monastery on the remote, windswept Strofades islands—an architectural and historical treasure now in danger of destruction
 
The Strofades: two small, flat, windswept islands rising out of the Ionian Sea, known to the ancient Greeks as the home of the terrible Harpies, and to most modern Greeks simply unknown. On the larger of the two islets, Stamfani, stands a massive fortified monastery, founded as early as the thirteenth century, for centuries a refuge for honest seafarers and a target for pirates and Turkish raiders. In its heyday, this imposing compound was home to some forty farmer-monks, who kept the entire island under cultivation; by 1976, it was home to just one, Father Gregory Kladis (1937–2017), who alone tended the monastery until 2014. Today the monastery―badly damaged by an earthquake in 1997―lies empty and in danger of ruin.
 
This book is intended to tell the world about the Holy Monastery at Strofades, and encourage its preservation. At its core are the words of the last monk himself, Father Gregory, who guides the reader through his historic monastery―its chapels, refectory, mills, bakehouse, and living quarters―and the natural beauties of its island setting, as depicted in Robert McCabe’s superb photographs. The testimonies of the boatman who brought Father Gregory his supplies, as well as the lighthouse keeper who was once his only companion on the island, lend texture and context―as do essays on the history, geology, and architecture of the Strofades, and architectural drawings that reconstruct the monastery’s phases of construction.
 
Nobody who peruses this volume―the result of a yearslong collaboration between more than a dozen researchers and friends of the Strofades―will be able to forget the islands’ last monk, or be unmoved by the plight of his monastery.

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