Tuesday, 4 January 2011

This Month's Art and Architecture titles:

by Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom
Emile Prisse d'Avennes (1807-1879), a French Orientalist, author and artist, was one of the greatest pre-20th century Egyptologists.  An ardent admirer of the superb skills of Egyptian and Oriental artisans, he was enamoured of Arabic art.  As a youth he dreamed of exploring the Orient, and at 19 began travelling to Greece and Palestine. Over the next 40 years he explored Syria, Arabia, Persia, and resided in Egypt and Algeria. Converting to Islam, he travelled Egypt disguised as an Arab, using the name Edris Effendi.  A student of ancient Egyptian and Islamic cultures, he later wrote: "We shall discuss all the arts, all the industries cultivated by Orientals with so much taste, brilliance, and fantasy. We will present splendid reproductions of the monuments, objects of art and luxury, which provide evidence of an advanced civilization, the influence of which has been felt even in Europe."  In 1848-1851 Prisse d'Avennes published his Oriental Album in London (Oriental Album: Characters, Costumes, and Modes of Life, the Valley of the Nile).  This brilliant collection of 32 chromolithographs illustrating the people and costumes of the Nile Valley was accompanied by a commentary by renowned Orientalist and Egyptologist James Augustus St. John.  After again travelling to North Africa, Prisse d'Avennes returned to France in 1860, bearing the fruits of his journeys, hundreds of folio drawings, photographs, sketches, plans and 400 meters of bas-reliefs.  Fascinated by the symmetry, complexity, and opulence of Egyptian and Arabic art, he drew from this vast collection to create compilations of the finest examples of art and architecture, which also took into account historical, social, and religious contexts.  In 1877, he published his outstanding survey on Islamic art and architecture, Arab Art (L'Art arabe d'après les monuments du Kaire, 1869-1877), in Paris. This publication reproduces the three atlas volumes containing 200 plates, 137 of them magnificent chromolithographs, mainly by Prisse d'Avennes. Two foldouts, 12" x 17", 408 pages.
ONLY £100
 by Pepin van Roojen
The Pepin Press publishers are famous for books on art, design, architecture, applied art and popular culture.  Here is a special offering of intricate geometric patterns and Arabesque, a form of ornamentation based on vines and foliage, popular in Islamic decorative arts.  In both forms of two dimensional decoration, Muslim artists have achieved exceptional levels of mastery as can be seen in the buildings in Egypt (the city of 1,000 minarets) and Alexandria.  The designs represented in the book are culled from some of the magnificent buildings in these cities, and in some cases repeating patterns have been expanded to make them more suitable for graphic use.  The images in the book can be used as a resource and for inspiration.  Each one is stored on the enclosed CD-Rom, ready for use in printed media or web page design, for producing postcards either on paper or digitally, or to decorate letters, flyers, T-shirts etc.  They can be imported directly from the CD into most software programmes.  The book itself is a visual delight, printed on quality paper, 112 pages in rich glowing colour. 
£26.99 NOW £7.50
by Robert Burleigh
Big and vibrant like its subject, this Harry Abrams publication focuses on Lautrec as a painter of Paris nightlife and one of the fathers of the poster.  Lautrec fell in love with art as a child.  His early drawings of horses and riders, circus performers and the family dog reveal his close observation of the world around him.  Later, as a student, he was entranced by the bustle of Paris and recreated its lively atmosphere in many of his vibrant works.  The personalities from the entertainment world who filled the night with song and dance were not only his friends but also his inspirations.  The book reproduces many of his best known paintings, drawings and posters as well as photos in this super introduction.  Suit ages ten to adult.  32 very large pages.
£9.95 NOW £6
by Sarah Thornton
The art market is booming.  Museum attendance is surging and more people than ever call themselves artists.  Contemporary art has become a mass entertainment, a luxury good, a job description and a kind of alternative religion for atheists.  Art receives the sort of breathless media attention that was once reserved for celebrities and royals.  But the art world is still opaque to outsiders.  Here Sarah Thornton takes us on an unusual journey exploring the most puzzling aspects of buying, selling, creating and exhibiting contemporary art.  In a series of beautifully paced, fly-on-the-wall narratives, we witness the drama of a Christie's auction, the high jinx of Takashi Murakami's studios, life in a notorious art school seminar, the élite at the Basel Art Fair, the eccentricities of Artform magazine, the backrooms of the Turner Prize and the watery wonderland of the Venice Biennale.  With her critical eye, gossip and rigorous research, her often funny account is peopled by an ever-expanding number of artists, collectors, dealers, curators and critics.  274pp in paperback with illus.
£12 NOW £4.50

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