The Early Dürer. Thames & Hudson. 2012. 604p. ed. by Daniel Hess & Thomas Eser. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500970379. $65. fine arts
This lavishly illustrated publication (offering more than 430 reproductions), edited by Hess and Eser (curators, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg), covers Albrecht Dürer’s (1471–1528) early career and art. Born in Nuremberg, where he was apprenticed to the workshops of his father, goldsmith Albrecht Dürer the Elder, and the painter Michael Wolgemut, Dürer became the most famous German artist of the 15th century. Including new artistic, cultural, historical, scientific, and social findings pertaining to the unique circumstances that enabled the man to succeed as a new archetype of the “modern” artist, this book is divided into two parts. While the first section features translations of 18 essays that are mostly by foreign experts, the second comprises a catalog of works, each of which contains a detailed caption that may be accompanied by a short, introductory, topical essay. Many of Dürer’s early masterpieces are reproduced and discussed here for the first time. VERDICT Beautifully presented and well documented, lacking only the contributors’ biographies, this publication will interest students, scholars, museum professionals, and others. As a significant, authoritative resource that establishes a new basis for understanding the artist and his early works, it is very highly recommended. —Cheryl Ann Lajos, Free Lib. of Philadelphia
Harvey, Eleanor Jones. The Civil War and American Art. Yale Univ. 2012. 352p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300187335. $65. fine arts
Harvey’s (chief curator, Smithsonian American Art Museum; An Impressionist Sensibility: The Halff Collection) extensive catalog assesses the impact of a national cataclysm—the American Civil War—on landscape, genre painting, and the then-new medium of photography. Other than Winslow Homer, not many artists have been studied in relation to the war’s impact on their work. Here Harvey looks closely at works created between the late 1850s and the centennial year 1876 to demonstrate how the conflict shaped visual culture even when it was not its direct subject matter. Although photographers brought the battlefield to civilians in ways not previously possible, no great historical paintings emerged from the carnage. And although abolition and emancipation were topics of visual interest in many media, in the end American artists turned away from an antebellum focus on nationality and towards a postwar interest in cosmopolitism, and particularly the Paris-centered contemporary-European art world. VERDICT Harvey skillfully integrates literature and journalism into a thoughtful and rich narrative of this pivotal period. An important cohesive assessment for scholars that is also broadly accessible and well-illustrated, this book is recommended for all collections. —Jack Perry Brown, Art Inst. of Chicago Libs.
Johnson, Roxane Beth. Black Crow Dress. Alice James Bks. 2013. 80p. ISBN 9781882295951. $15.95.POETRY
Philip Levine Prize-winner Johnson ( Jubilee ) here gives dramatic voice to the slave experience through compelling persona poems. In these 47 mostly prose poems, the reader experiences the perspectives of three slaves—Caroline, Clea, and Zebedee—and, as counterpoint, the views of their owner, Tobias Finch; his wife, Mistress Finch (who tries to kill Zebedee because of his white skin); and Prudence, Zebedee’s half-sister. The first-person accounts are strongest, as when Zebedee says, “I sleep without a marker. Think of me. Like/ a stone, leave me for ages under a cypress then carry me for a while in your pocket,/ throw me into another river. No more.” Johnson effectively captures authentic details that impart a feel for some of the horrors slaves experienced, including Caroline’s repeated rapes by her master. Another stunning section shows Prudence trying to save her half-brother, who is chained in the barn at night. Most of Johnson’s poems are so original and well sculpted that the occasional wordiness or trite phase stands out. VERDICT On the whole, a stunning collection that evokes a tragic, unjust world; Johnson has a gift for metaphor and narrative that builds throughout . —Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN
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The following titles are reviewed in the February 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Davis, Keith F. & others. Heartland: The Photographs of Terry Evans. Yale Univ. 2012. 220p. photogs. bibliog.ISBN 9780300190755. $60. photography
Dupon, Olivier. The New Jewelers. Thames & Hudson. 2012. 288p. photogs. ISBN 9780500516294. $45. fine arts
Kavass, Veronica. Artists in Love: From Picasso & Gilot to Christo & Jeanne-Claude; A Century of Creative and Romantic Relationships. Welcome Bks. 2012. 256p. bibliog. illus. ISBN 9781599621135. $65. fine arts
Moser, Stephanie. Designing Antiquity: Owen Jones, Ancient Egypt and the Crystal Palace. Yale Univ. 2012. 320p. illus. index. ISBN 9780300187076. $75. ARCH
In My View: Personal Reflections on Art by Today’s Leading Artists. Thames & Hudson. 2012. 208p. ed. by Simon Grant. ISBN 9780500238967. $40.
Nagel, Alexander. Medieval Modern: Art Out of Time. Thames & Hudson. 2012. 312p. bibliog. illus. index.ISBN 9780500238974. $45. fine arts
Witham, Larry. Picasso and the Chess Player: Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and the Battle for the Soul of Modern Art. University Press of New England. Jan. 2013. 384p. illus. index. ISBN 9781611682533. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781611683493. fine arts
Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do. Plume. Jan. 2013. 256p. ed. by Meredith Maran. ISBN 9780452298156. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781101602829. Lit
Morris, Roy Jr. Declaring His Genius: Oscar Wilde in North America. Belknap: Harvard Univ. 2013. 260p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780674066960. $26.95. LIT
Mullan, John. What Matters in Jane Austen: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved. Bloomsbury. 2013. 352p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781620400418. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781620400449. lit
Feminism in the Worlds of Neil Gaiman: Essays on the Comics, Poetry and Prose. McFarland. Mar. 2013. 320p. ed. by Tara Prescott & Aaron Drucker. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780786466368. pap. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781476600925. LIT
Noonan, Ellen. The Strange Career of Porgy and Bess: Race, Culture, and America’s Most Famous Opera.Univ. of North Carolina. 2012. 440p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780807837160. $39.95; ebk. ISBN 9780807837337. Music
Ashbery, John. Quick Question. Ecco: HarperCollins. 2012. 106p. ISBN 9780062225955. $24.99. POETRY
The Best of the Best American Poetry. Scribner. Apr. 2013. ed. by Robert Pinsky. 352p. ISBN 9781451658880. $18; ebk. ISBN 9781451658897. POETRY
Gibson, Dobby. It Becomes You. Graywolf. 2013. 104p. ISBN 9781555976323. $15. POETRY
Mathis, Cleopatra. Book of Dog. Sarabande Bks. 2012. 64p. ISBN 9781936747474. $14.95. POETRY
Szybist, Mary. Incarnadine. Graywolf. Feb. 2013. 72p. ISBN 9781555976354. $15. POETRY
Isbouts, Jean-Pierre. In the Footsteps of Jesus: A Chronicle of His Life and the Origins of Christianity.National Geographic. 2012. 367p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9781426209871. $40. REL
McGuinness, Margaret M. Called To Serve: A History of Nuns in America. New York Univ. Mar. 2013. 265p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780814795569. $35. REL
Schneider, Pat. How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice. Oxford Univ. Apr. 2013. 288p. notes. ISBN 9780199933983. $18.95. REL