List #9: VISUAL CULTURE
Have a look through this selection of books we are recommending for summer reading and as seasonal gifts. Click through to read our reviews. Use the 'click and collect' function on our website to reserve your copies.
If you don't find what you're looking for here, come and talk to us: we have many other interesting books on our shelves.
Josef Albers: Life and work by Charles Darwent $55
The first full biography of this pivotal artist, educator and theorist, from his Bauhaus beginnings through his Black Mountain College years to Yale. Is colour more important than form?
>> Search vs research.
Scenic Playground: The story behind New Zealand's mountain tourism edited by Peter Alsop, Dave Bamford and Lee Davidson $80
Explores the story behind the promotion of New Zealand's mountains through posters, advertisements, hand-coloured photographs and more.
Supercommunity: Diabolical togetherness beyond contemporary art edited by Julieta Aranda, Anton Vidokle and Brian Kuan Wood $37
"I am the supercommunity, and you are only starting to recognize me. I grew out of something that used to be humanity. Some have compared me to angry crowds in public squares; others compare me to wind and atmosphere, or to software." A project by e-flux for the Venice Biennale, identifying the naked power that is revealed when the complex of art, the internet and globalisation shed their utopian guises.
Risography: Loving imperfections by Carolina Amell $65
An excellent selection of works demonstrating the scope, characteristics and quirks of this printmaking process.
>> Risography explained and demonstrated.
Ruth Asawa by Tiffany Bell and Robert Storr $115
Known for her intricate and dynamic wire sculptures, the American sculptor, educator and arts activist Ruth Asawa challenged conventional notions of material and form through her emphasis on lightness and transparency. Asawa began her now iconic looped-wire works in the late 1940s while still a student at Black Mountain College.
>> The Ruth Asawa website (recommended).
>> Of forms and growth.
>> Objects and apparitions.
They Knew What They Wanted: Poems and collages by John Ashbery $70
The first-ever collection of Ashbery's collage work (interesting!), with a selection of related poetry.
>> All the kitsch.
Flora Magnifica: The art of flowers in four seasons by Makoto Azuma and Shunsuke Shiinoki $70
A stunning, luscious book of unusual flower arrangements, a collaboration between a flower artist and a botanical photographer. Come and see this book.
Shape of Light: 100 years of photography and abstract art by Simon Baker and Emmanuelle de l’Ecotais $55
A good survey of photography and its relationship to abstraction since 1910.
Photography in Japan, 1853-1912 by Terry Bennett $60
The 350 images in this book, many of them published here for the first time, not only chronicle the introduction of photography in Japan, but are also useful in helping to understand the dramatic changes that occurred in mid-nineteenth century Japan. Taken between 1853 and 1912 by the most important local and foreign photographers working in Japan, the photographic images, whether sensational or everyday, intimate or panoramic, document a nation about to abandon its traditional ways and enter the modern age.
Galleries of Maoriland: Artists, collectors and the Maori world, 1880-1910 by Roger Blackley $75
Galleries of Maoriland introduces the many ways in which Pakeha discovered, created, propagated and romanticised the 'Maori world' at the turn of the century: in the paintings of Lindauer and Goldie, among artists, patrons, collectors and audiences; inside the Polynesian Society and the Dominion Museum; among stolen artefacts and fantastical accounts of the Maori past. The culture of Maoriland was a Pakeha creation. The book shows also that Maori were not merely passive victims: they too had a stake in this process of romanticisation.
Pictures by #The Stormpilot by Santiago Borja $70
Storms are seen quite differently from the air from on the ground. Borja has captured a range of them in these stunning images.
>> Some storms.
Modernist Design: Complete by Dominic Bradbury $135
A stunning comprehensive survey of the revolutionary aesthetic, in all media and from a vast range of practitioners.
Unearthing Ancient Nubia by Lawrence Burman $60
Specially trained Egyptian photographers were an integral part of the pioneering Harvard-MFA expedition during the first half of the twentieth century. Their photographs documented the excavations with thousands of images, as the riches of a great ancient civilization in northern Sudan were uncovered. These photographs bring to life the dramatic landscapes of the Nile Valley and the excitement of archaeological discovery.
Flying Too Close to the Sun: Myths in art, from Classical to contemporary by James Cahill $90
A beautifully presented and thoughtfully selected survey of the persistence of myths in visual culture.
Photographer Frederic Chaubin reveals 90 buildings sited in fourteen former Soviet Republics which express what could be considered as the fourth age of Soviet architecture. They reveal an unexpected rebirth of imagination, an unknown burgeoning that took place from 1970 until 1990. Contrary to the twenties and thirties, no "school" or main trend emerges here. These buildings represent a chaotic impulse brought about by a decaying system. Their diversity announces the end of Soviet Union. Taking advantage of the collapsing monolithic structure, the holes of the widening net, architects revisited all the chronological periods and styles, going back to the roots or freely innovating.
Filming the Colonial Past: The New Zealand Wars on screen by Annabel Cooper $50
Representation of defining events in New Zealand's history have changed in parallel with other cultural and political developments.
Us v Them: Tony de Lautour by Peter Vangioni et al $40
The first retrospective collection of this savagely interesting artist sprung from Christchurch's itching cultural underbelly.
>> The "low-brow high art world of Tony de Lautour".
>> From earthquakes to fatherhood.
>> The thought part of the act.
Designed in the USSR, 1950-1989 $60
This survey of Soviet design from 1950 to 1989 features more than 350 items from the Moscow Design Museum's collection. From children's toys, homewares, and fashion to posters, electronics, and space-race ephemera, each object reveals something of life in a planned economy during a fascinating time in Russia's history.
>> Visit the Moscow Design Museum.
Floral Contemporary: The renaissance of flower design by Olivier Dupon $60
38 floral designers.
Fashioned from Nature by Edwina Ehrman and Emma Watson $53
An interesting and well illustrated survey of ways in which fashion design has been influenced by the natural world.
Brings the legacy of architects, artists and designers that have influenced the creative discourse over the last fifty years into critical dialogue with a young generation of upcoming influencers in the respective fields. The publication doesn't regard the legacy of an individual architect, artist or predecessor as an end point but as a simple moment in an infinite chain of contributions and inspirations that naturally extends and transforms through its successors. The creative conversations illustrated in this title reflect the inspirational vision of personalities such as Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Yona Friedman, Charlie Koolhaas and Rem Koolhaas, Rachel Libeskind and Daniel Libeskind, Gianfranco Bombaci, Matteo Costanzo and Gian Piero Frassinelli, Aric Chen and Arata Isozaki, Liz Diller and ElizabethLeCompte, Sophie Lovell, Dieter Rams and Olafur Eliasson.
Women Photographers: From Julia Margaret Cameron to Cindy Sherman by Boris Friedewald $55
A well selected survey, featuring the work of 55 photographers.
Modern Forms: A subjective atlas of 20th century architecture by Nicolas Grospierre $65
You couldn't hope for a more stimulating and surprising collection of architectural forms from around the world.
Animal: Exploring the zoological world by James Hanken et al $90
Human's fascination with animals as recorded in art from all ages. Stunning. Beautiful.
>> See some spreads.
Medieval Bodies: Life, death and art in the Middle Ages by Jack Hartnell $55
Dripping with blood and gold, fetishised and tortured, gateway to earthly delights and point of contact with the divine, forcibly divided and powerful even beyond death, there was no territory more contested than the body in the medieval world. Hartnell investigates the complex and fascinating ways in which the people of the Middle Ages thought about, explored and experienced their physical selves, and the ways in which they left evidence of this. Beautifully illustrated.
Free Hand: New typography sketchbooks by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico $60
Browse the workbooks of leading contemporary typographer and hand-letterers. Plenty of inspiration here.
The Maze: A labyrinthine companion by Angus Hyland, Kendra Wilson and Thibaud Herem $55
A beautifully presented collection of over 60 real and imagined mazes from around the world, each with a bird's eye diagrammatic view and description.
The Circus: A visual history by Pascal Jacob $66
Using over 200 circus-related artworks from the French National Library's collections, Pascal Jacob tells the story of travelling entertainers and their art and trade. From nomadic animal tamers of the Dark Ages to European jugglers and acrobats of the 1800s, from the use of the circus as Soviet propaganda to the 20th-century Chinese performance art renaissance, this is a fascinating and attractive book.
>> The horrific and the entertaining are never far apart.
Anselm Kiefer by Richard Davey $95
Kiefer wrestles with the darkness of German history, unearthing the taboos that underlie the collective past and interweaving them with Teutonic mythology, cosmology, and meditations on the nature of belief. His works have a disconcerting tactility, at once emerging from the picture plane and decaying into it.
Blue Land and City Noise: An Expressionist stroll through art and literature by Cathrin Klingsohr-Leroy $60
A beautifully presented selections of Expressionist art and of the more-seldom-seen Expressionist literature, all claiming the value of a subjective response to the world.
Nelson: Now and then by Peter Lukas $40
When Norwegian photographer Peter Lukas visited Nelson, he was so impressed with the photographic collections at the Nelson Provincial Museum that he set out to photograph the same street views as they appear today. The result is this wonderful book: historical photographs paired with their modern equivalents.
The Alchemy of Things: Interiors shaped by curious minds by Karen McCarteny $70
Explores the homes of 18 global creatives who take an eccentric, whimsical, curated and clever approach to their living space. An interiors book both for people who love interiors books and for people who ordinarily don't love interiors books.
A Life in Pictures by Steve McCurry $90
Forty years of superb journalistic photography. The most comprehensive volume of McCurry's work yet.
Tatau: A cultural history of Samoan tattooing by Sean Mallon and Sebastien Galliot $75
This first history of Samoan tatau explores the people, encounters, events and external forces that have defined Samoan tattooing over many centuries. The Samoan Islands are unusual in that tattooing has been continuously practised for 3000 years with indigenous techniques. Beautifully produced and illustrated.
An Anthology of Decorated Papers by P.J.M. Marks $55
Bookbinder Olga Hirsch (1889–1968) left her collection of 3,500 papers dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries to the British Library - one of the largest and most diverse collections of decorated papers in the world. This book contains reproductions of papers used as wrappers and endpapers for books, as the backing for playing cards, as linings for chests and cases, as pictures for display in churches and homes, as souvenirs for pilgrims, and as wrappings for foodstuffs such as gingerbread and chocolate.
The Lives of the Surrealists by Desmond Morris $55
A Surrealist artist himself but better known as a zoologist and ethnologist, Morris is an excellent guide to the people who, rebelling against the strictures of modern life, devised modes of access to the workings of the unconsciousness, which they allowed expression in literature and art.
New Wave Clay: Ceramic design, art and architecture by Tom Morris $65
The unprecedented surge in popularity of ceramics in the last five years has helped forge a new type of potter: the ceramic designer. Part-craftsman, part designer, they bridge ceramic craft, collectable design, and fine art. These ceramicists include product designers who use clay as a means of creative expression, and classically trained potters who create design-led pieces, in addition to interior decorators, illustrators, and graphic designers.
The Post-Conceptual Condition by Peter Osborne $39
An explorer's guide to the chasm between art and politics, and to the cultural forces that lurk there. Can art catalyse historical moments into philosophical truth?
>> What makes contemporary art contemporary?
New Zealand Art at Te Papa $75
The best survey of New Zealand art available, thoughtfully selected and presented, drawn from the national collection.
Wild Land by Peter and Beverly Pickford $90
A stunning large-format book of stunning large-format photographs of stunning large-format landscapes devoid of even the slightest human impact. You will want this.
Artivism by Arcadi Poch and Daniela Poch $45
How can modes of visual and performance art be used effectively in protest and other political action? This is a good survey of art on the front lines of activism.
Blush by Jack Robinson, with photographs by Natalia Zagórska-Thomas $36
A blush is a gulp, a glitch, a stammer, a flutter, a flinch. A blush is hot. A blush is an index of confusion. A blush, according to Darwin, is "the most peculiar and the most human of all expressions". This essay by Jack Robinson, exploring the cultural and social history of the blush from the 18th century to the present, is illustrated with witty and often unsettling images by Natalia Zagórska-Thomas.
>> See some of Zagórska-Thomas's work.
>> Read Thomas's review.
Oceania by Anne Salmond, Peter Brunt, Sean Mallon et al $140
Brings together recent scholarship by experts in the field and featuring a wide array of objects from the region, including many that have never been published before. Included are many works that have historically been overlooked, such as painted and woven textiles, elaborate wicker assemblages and expressively sculpted vessels, alongside works by artists working in Oceania today. These objects reveal a complex web of social, mythological and historical influences.
Letterforms: Typeface design from past to future by Timothy Samara $45
Remarkably good analysis of the evolution and design considerations of fonts.
Women Design: Pioneers in architecture, industrial, graphic and digital design from the twentieth century to the present day by Libby Sellers $45
A good selection, well illustrated, from Eileen Gray, Lora Lamm and Lella Vignelli, to Kazuyo Sejima, Hella Jongerius and Neri Oxman.
Spectrum: Heritage patterns and colours by Ros Byam Shaw $55
Drawing from the Victoria and Albert Museum's unparalleled collections of wallpapers and fabrics, this useful book analyses colour palettes from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. The exemplars are arranged chronologically with their own double-page spreads that explain the significance of the palette. A colour grid is shown beside each pattern, in which the colors in the original piece are shown in proportion to their use, and with their CMYK references to enable designers to replicate these colors in their own work. Useful, beautiful, interesting.
Living with Buildings and Walking with Ghosts: On health and architecture by Iain Sinclair $33
We shape ourselves, and are shaped in return, by the walls that contain us. Buildings affect how we sleep, work, socialise and even breathe. They can isolate and endanger us but they can also heal us. We project our hopes and fears onto buildings, while they absorb our histories. Iain Sinclair embarks on a series of expeditions - through London, Marseille, Mexico and the Outer Hebrides. He explores the relationship between sickness and structure, and between art, architecture, social planning and health, taking plenty of detours along the way.
"A remarkable book; surprisingly gripping and often very moving. Stories weave and unweave over the book's course, patterning thought into a complex built environment, at once disorientating and illuminating." - Robert Macfarlane
As You Will: Carnegie Libraries of the South Pacific by Mickey Smith $50
Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie's philanthropic trust established 2,509 library buildings throughout the English-speaking world between 1886 and 1917. This book of well-observed photographs and documentary images records the 23 libraries established in the South Pacific (18 of them in New Zealand). A few have been demolished, others have been repurposed, some are still used as libraries.
Studio Dreams: NoBrow 10 edited by Alex Spiro and Sam Arthur (no.0679 of an edition of 1000) $43
70 illustrators were given the brief to illustrated their "dream studios" - with such wonderful results. These are the centres of creative vortices, places where dreams cross between an illustrator's internal and external worlds by means of paper.
Gates of Paradise by Hiroshi Sugimoto $149
In 1585 four young Japanese men from the nascent Christian community in Japan appeared before Pope Gregory XIII. Renowned photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto traces their steps, capturing the architectural wonders of Rome, Florence, and Venice as the Eastern visitors might have seen them. His photographs are presented in context with reproductions of Japanese art of the same period. Interesting and impressive.
Wanted: The search for the modernist murals of E. Mervyn Taylor edited by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith $80
New Zealand artist E. Mervyn Taylor was not only an internationally influential wood engraver. During the burgeoning of New Zealand nationalist-cultural focus in the 1960s he produced a dozen murals for government and civic buildings. Some were later destroyed or covered over. This book records the search for a distinctive artistic legacy.
Robot House by Peter Testa $55
New applications and developments in robotics are transforming architectural practice (and theory too, for that matter). This book takes us to the forefront of design.
Drawing Architecture by Helen Thomas $125
How do architects get their ideas down on paper? A beautifully presented collection of 250 outstanding architectural drawings, sketches and concepts, spanning continents and centuries.
>>See some spreads.
Culture as Weapon: The art of influence in everyday life by Nato Thompson $38
The machinery of cultural production has been co-opted by institutions, corporations and governments in order to further their interests, maximise profits and suppress dissent. A perceptive account of how advertising, media and politics work today.
Te Ahi Kā: The fires of occupation by Martin Toft $65
The tribes of Whanganui take their name, their spirit and their strength from the Whanganui River. In Te Ahi Kā, photographer Martin Toft explores the deep physical and metaphysical relationships between the river and the Māori. In 1996 Toft spent six months in the middle and upper reaches of the Whanganui River in the King Country. Here he met Māori who were in the process of reversing the colonisation of their people and returning to their ancestral land, Mangapapapa, which is on the steep banks of the river inside Whanganui National Park. Returning twenty years later, Toft began to work on this book. Its narrative is situated within the context of the current Whanganui River Deed of Settlement, Ruruku Whakatupua and the projects led by local Māori to settle historical grievances with the government dating back to the 1870s. At the heart of it is the Whanganui tribes’ claim to the river, which is seen by them as both as an ancestor and as a source of both material and spiritual sustenance.
>> Look inside the book.
Plundering Beauty: A history of art crime during war by Arthur Tompkins $70
War has always provided the opportunity for crimes either against art or against its established ownership structures. A well illustrated survey, from Classical antiquity to the present. New Zealand author.
>> Tompkins talks with Kim Hill.
Weaving: Contemporary makers on the loom by Katie Treggiden $60
Examines the work and work processes of two dozen leading weavers from around the world. Very nicely presented.
>> Find out more.
More than thirty young and passionate ceramicists in New York, London, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Sydney and Sao Paulo introduce us to their work, their studios and their inspiration. Beautifully photographed and presented.
Type Deck: 54 iconic typefaces curated by Steven Heller and Rick Landers $28
A striking set of index cards surveying the history of type design.
Seven Dada Manifestos and Lampisteries by Tristan Tzara $23
The manifestos written by Tzara between 1916 and 1921 epitomised an assault on all traditional norms-and-forms, in art and in the art of living. Primarily works of liberating destruction, the manifestos pointed the way towards Surrealism and towards the new ways of seeing, living and making that were experimented with in the following decades.
>> "I am against manifestos."
Paper: Material, medium, magic edited by Nicola von Velsen and Neil Holt $95
This excellent book covers every aspect of paper: its history, composition, production, application, and trade. Beginning with the anatomy of paper and its earliest forms, this book looks at paper as a symbol of political and economic importance and as a carrier of ideas, from literature to art, design, and music. It looks at the different surfaces, opacities, weights and volumes of paper and how it is used for printing, typography, graphics, and maps as well as a vehicle for origami, architecture, and fashion.
Elizabeth Lissaman: New Zealand's pioneer studio potter by Jane Vial and Steve Austin $60
Lissaman designed, threw, decorated, fired and sold her first significant collection of pots in 1927 and potted continuously until 1990, spanning New Zealand’s studio pottery movements. Her life, work and importance is explored in this superb new book.
Vitamin D2: New perspectives in drawing $70
The absolutely new edition of Vitamin D is packed with recent examples of artists pushing at the edges of the medium.
Facing the Future: Art in Europe, 1945-1968 by Peter Weibel $165
How can art be made following a cultural trauma such as that experienced by Europe during World War 2? This important new book includes some 400 works by 150 artists, bringing together for the first time post-war art from both Western and Eastern Europe. The book studies how Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Ossip Zadkine, Henry Moore, Renato Guttuso, Fernand Leger, Yves Klein, Gerhard Richter, Lucian Freud and many others worked through the trauma of 1940-1945 and the Cold War.
20th-Century Fashion in Detail by Claire Wilcox and Valerie D. Mendes $55
An unparalleled resource of fashion detailing from throughout the last century: elaborate embroidery, intricate pleats, daring cuts, innovative approaches and solutions. Beautifully presented and containing only the very best examples.
Eco Home: Smart ideas for sustainable New Zealand homes by Melinda Williams $45
Considers every room and detail. Includes floor plans and endless ideas.
The Eye: How the world's most successful creative directors develop their vision by Nathan Williams $100
Mr Kinfolk introduces us to the unseen shapers of visual culture: Dries van Noten, Kris Van Assche, Spike Jonze, Melina Matsoukas, Grace Coddington, Linda Rodin and many more. Excellent photography and production inside.
Atlas of Brutalist Architecture $200
878 Buildings, 798 Architects, 102 Countries, 9 World Regions, 1 Style. A stunning oversize volume of the best examples of brutalist construction around the world.
>> See some spreads.
Art Tastic: An art activity book for young people with minty-fresh imaginations $30
A huge amount of fun (and inadvertent learning) will be had from these madcap activities based around works in the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu.