Archivi tag: book review

The Atlas of Beauty – book review

An illustrated tour around the world through the eyes of a woman, about women of so many countries and cultures, young and old, but with the comune denominator of beauty. Far from the photoshopped, artificial beauty of fashion magazines, it is not about seductiveness, but the real, inner beauty that comes from the heart. All these women are unique with their faces and bodies, they do not try to look like top models, yet they are so lovely in simple or gorgeus clothes, they’ll surely conquer the reader. Their stories are told in few words, some of them are very hard, suffered or even heroic, but there is a positive radiance in their eyes. This book is a message about love, hope, tollerance, integration and peace, told by the beautiful faces of women. Being a portrait painter, so fascinated by faces, I really enjoyed this book.

Book review: Art and Science

Art and science

Art and science – two confining territories, two points of views to discover and represent the world around us: their similarities and differences, their evolution and interactions through time, the figure of the artist and the scientist in various ages are treated in this richly illustrated volume. The time period is really huge: from the beginning of human history to our days. It’s surely very ambitious to include everything and the material is difficult to organize so the author in the chapters takes various disciplines of arts, like architecture, design, decoration, painting, performing arts and their relations to science through history. In every chapter she goes through time and space in big steps synthesizing evolution (typically a paragraph for a period), then leaps to another place. For example, in the architecture chapter treats gothic style, the next page with new title (Distances and encounters) describes pre-Columbian America. This continous leaping through times and geographical places is quite dizzy, you simply can’t assimilate so much information. The book is very rich in content but is surely not an easy reading. The style is more of a school textbook than entertainment. It can be valuable as a reference book, to read bit by bit.  Also it requires a good culture from the reader and stimulates further investigation, else the information does not remain in memory. The illustrations are very interesting, it’s a pity that some beautiful paintings are printed in black and white instead of color (for example a Rubens and a Monet painting). The curiosities about artists and scientists lighten up a bit the heavy text.

 

Book review: Better with age

betterage

Better with age is an entertaining and informative book about how to use our brain in order to live longer and better. The author, financial representative before, brain coach now, uses a comprehensible language to guide us through the evolution of the nervous system in order to get to the most complicated structure we know: the human brain, an immense treasure we own but we don’t know and use enough. It has also the extraordinary capacity of repairing and improving itself through the whole lifespan thanks to the neuroplasticity. Use it or lose it – is the leit-motiv of the book and the author explains why it is so important and how to do this. How we use our brain is our responsability and in our interest so we need a guide to do it well.

Dividing the brain in five zones that are associated with various tasks, the author explains through the Brain Portfolio Tool (a metaphore taken from the financial world) that we need to invest in all of them and to give them a chance for acting and she suggests the activities we can do to achieve this goal. A balanced activity of all zones is fundamental for  good health of the brain and the body in older age. (As an artist I was somewhat surprised that crafts, drawing and sculpture are associated with parietal lobe (artisan activities) together to bicycle and horseback riding and hunting (adventure activities), while art was associated with occipital lobe*).

In the same way are described the superpowers of the brain. She also tells us concrete examples of people of various age that activating them have succeed in improving his/her own life.

In the last chapter the author analyzes long-agers’ behaviour and lifestyle, their social, economical and cultural environment in different high-income countries searching for a key. She also is investigating for the dramatic number of Alzheimer’s cases in the USA pointing out the probably causes and so suggesting the solutions.

The book is written in a reader-friendly language, the illustrations and the layout facilitate easy reading and comprehension. Every chapter has engagement questions getting the reader personally involved.

 

  • * the author has explained me in a personal message that she sees occipital as more attuned to shape and color (2 dimensions) and parietal more attentive to form and structure (3 dimensions). Put in this way I understand now the difference.

 

Book review: Symbolism

Symbolism
Symbolism

Very rich and beautiful book, highly recommended. Good reproductions and interesting text, informative and entertaining. Subdivided by countries / geoghraphical regions.
It’s a pity that illustrations very often are not near to the corrisponding text. Also, I missed some painters like Chagall, Rousseau, the Hungarian painters Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl, Tivadar Kosztka Csontváry and others, I’d have liked more on Goya’s symbolist paintings. Anyway a very good book.

Book review: Painting America’s portrait

Not exactly what I expected, the book is readable in a couple of hours, being richly illustrated but with very little text. The format remembers me the slideshows – presentations where the images are accompanied with synthesizing phrases. So it is not entertaining but useful to understand the most important facts.

The book shows the revolution complied in illustration in the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, thanks to the industrialization, the social changes, the arrival of modern art tendencies, more sophisticated and more economical printing techniques, the growing need for information, the birth of mass communication and of the consumer as target of advertisement. and the increasing power of the press. It shows also the backside of it, when the papers in their fight to sell better use questionable or actually condemnable tactics, putting apart moral questions.

I’d have liked more information about the illustration school of Howard Pyle, and more examples of works of his and his students (especially Wyeth), and I wish the few Pyle paintings in the book were at least reproduced in color. Also I’d have liked to read about Norman Rockwell, Harvey Dunn, and see some of their fabulous works.

Book review – Pop painting surrealism

pop painting book review
pop painting book review. cover of the book

 

I am a realist figurative painter and I have to precise that I am not at all a manga or pop art lover but I like surrealism. So the pop surrealism quoted in the subtitle and the beautiful cover image of the new book of Camilla d’Errico  have instantly conquered me. The book is really beautiful, well organized and very rich in content. The painter’s unique style elevates the standard for the pop art genre and strucks for her fantasy. Beautiful, sad or melancholic young girls (or fairies? –  they have no sex characteristics) “wearing” animals (owls, butterflies, octopuses, etc) or decorated with rainbows in fancyful variations are the dominant elements of her works. They are beautifully executed and surely captivating.

Big eyes movie - Tim Burton
Big eyes movie (Tim Burton ) about Marguerite Keane)

 

This genre is at a high risk of kitsch (see the works of Margaret Keane – Tim Burton movie Big eyes or of Francisque Poulbot or other Parisian Monmartre painters of the 70’s), but in my opinion the rich though rather repetitive fantasy of the painter helps to avoid this trap. She actually gives advices as how to push boundaries but she remains always in safe port, creating a big number of variations on the same theme, like commercial painters do.

The richly illustrated volume contains detailed information about how she invents and realizes her works, giving a lot of advices in an informal way and step by step demonstations. As for technique I am surprised she advices mixing watersoluble oils with acrylics, please note that you can’t do this with some brands like Winsor&Newton’s Artisan. She is really generous in explaining her technique (I was not interested in this part as I have my own style and surely will not copy hers). Also she takes a risk giving out her “secrets” as her style is very characteristic and publishing this book she encourages that others make copies of her works.  Anyway, it is a high value book if you like her style.

Book review – Art Nouveau – Dover

libro art nouveau dover
libro art nouveau Dover publication

 

This book is a collection of ornamental Art Nouveau, mostly from previous Dover publications, figuring printed materials, textile and wallpaper designs, some jewellery and stained glass, but no architecture, no sculpture. Quite all the book is illustration, with very little text: short introduction, index of artists and bibliography. The material is divided by countries: France, England, Germany, Austria, Checoslovakia, Switzerland, USA. No nordic countries, no Spain, no Russia, no Hungary, which I consider a big omission. Also no works from Gaudì, Tiffany, Lalique, Klimt, no Fabergé eggs, nothing of the famous Zsolnay porcelains, there is only one poster from Toulouse-Lautrec, while the Mucha section is a bit richer. It’s good as a general reference of Art Nouveau ornamental motifs (I appreciated especially those with animals), but it is far from complete.