Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, January 4, 2013

Week ending January 4, 2013

Bowlt, John E. & others. Masterpieces of Russian Stage Design 1880–1930. Antique Collectors’ Club. 2012. 424p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781851496884. $95. FINE ARTS
In this first volume of a projected two-volume work, Bowlt (Slavic languages & literature, Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles; Moscow & St. Petersburg 1900–1920: Art, Life, & Culture of the Russian Silver Age) explores the art of the Russian stage through the collection of Nina and Nikita D. Lobanov-Rostovsky. Four fluent, readable essays will offer much to higher level students of Russia’s history, theater, culture, and art. Major movements and figures are covered, and the role of theater and stage design within the larger art world is addressed. Bowlt also explores the motivations of the collectors and contrasts the art of collecting with the academic study of works of art. In addition, the book features extensive additional lists and directories, such as “Russian Art Groups” and “Russian-Born Artists Active as Set and Costume Designers Outside Russia (1909–62).” The artwork is presented beautifully: the book features over 200 full-page brightly colored illustrations.
Verdict Academic libraries should consider this worthy title for their art and/or Russian studies collections; however, few public libraries will find this to be a suitable purchase.—Jennifer Naimzadeh, Richland Cty. Lib., Columbia, SC

Kallir, Jane. Egon Schiele’s Women. Prestel. 2012. 304p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9783791346489. $85. FINE ARTS
Owner of New York’s Galerie St. Etienne, which specializes in German and Austrian Expressionism, Kallir (Egon Schiele: Life and Work) has written extensively about Egon Schiele, though this is her first book to focus on his portrayals of women in drawing and painting. She recounts the biographical circumstances of the artist’s life and sets the stage for the social, cultural, and economic climate of fin-de-siècle Vienna, especially where the status of women was concerned. As a young artist, Schiele employed his sister Gerti as a model for his first renderings of women. The artist also used as his models young women who worked as prostitutes. These symbolist works featured contorted limbs and expressive line and gesture. Later, Wally Neuzil, who would become Schiele’s lover, became the muse and the model for many of the artist’s highly stylized compositions. Subsequently, he married Edith Harms, a young woman from a bourgeois family, who became his model and whom he in turn portrayed in a more naturalistic manner than in his earlier works.
Verdict An engaging and informative book with beautiful color illustrations and a large print format, this is recommended for readers interested in the art of turn-of-the-century Europe and European modernism.—Sandra Rothenberg, Framingham State Coll. Lib., MA

Wallace, William E. Discovering Michelangelo: The Art Lover’s Guide to Understanding Michelangelo’s Masterpieces. Universe. 2012. 260p. illus. index. ISBN 9780789324436. $45. FINE ARTS
Wallace (art history, Washington Univ., St. Louis; Michelangelo: The Artist, the Man and His Times) presents a rich variety of Michelangelo’s sculpture, painting, architecture, and design—each paired with in-depth detail, description, and background—in this engaging narrative. Most of his best-known works are here—David, the Pièta, the tomb of Guilano Medici, the Sistine Chapel, and his Last Judgment, among a full panoply of his achievements. With 50 pages of color reproductions, each of the masterpieces have overpages with cutout windows that focus on key aspects of the work, which Wallace wishes to call readers’ attention to on the illustrated page beneath it.
Verdict The cutout windows in this monograph are a compelling reason to view the book in its traditional 3-D format rather than on a screen and make the book a superb art object. Wallace accomplishes what he set out to do: his explanations will be valuable to anyone wishing to gain an understanding of the breadth and technique of this most famous of Renaissance masters. Sure to please as a thoughtful gift to an art lover or an enjoyable treat for a specialist.—Ellen Bates, New York

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"