All the books reviews
The Art of Southern Africa: The Terence Pethica Collection - (ENGLISH)
After a visit to the notable Africa: The Art of a Continent exhibition in London in 1995, Terence Pethica, who had already been collecting for twenty-five years, became particularly interested in the unique arts of Southern Africa, an area long neglected by both scholars and collectors of African art. This book focuses on the material culture of the Zulu, Tsonga, Ngubi, and many other little-known tribes. These are art forms that are often surprising and include rare examples of figural sculpture, prestige staffs adorned with carved heads, canes, and ceremonial axes; most emblems of chiefly authority. These groups are also known for their stylistically varied headrests, which served both to protect the sleeper’s coiffure and to facilitate access to the realm of dreams, and hence communication with the ancestors. Tobacco pipes and containers served a similar function: tobacco was believed to clear the mind and allow it to hear the voices of the ancestors. The excellent illustrations and presentation of this book allow the reader to fully appreciate the significance of the pieces it presents.
The Arts of Africa - (FRENCH / German)
On the centenary of the release of the seminal African art book, Negerplastik, in Leipzig in May 1915 at the height of the First World War, the complete writings of Carl Einstein (1885–1940) published during his lifetime have been reprinted, both in French and German, under the new title Les Arts de l’Afrique. Einstein, a German Jew, was then fi ghting in the ranks of a German army, many of whose members expressed indignation about the “hordes of black savages” that had been launched into the confl ict by the English and the French. But for Einstein’s part, his close Parisian friends included those who, during his first stay in Paris from 1905 to 1907, had communally and enthusiastically “discovered” so-called art Nègre. With the present work, Einstein’s contributions on the arts of Africa have now been reprinted and are presented along with other previously published texts on the subject. All of the German texts in his body of work have been translated and annotated. Captions for Negerplastik, as well as information that was republished, completed, or brought up to date in Afrikanische Plastik, including the bibliographies, have been compiled by Jean-Louis Paudrat in the present work.
The Aztec Empire - (ENGLISH)
This large and authoritative volume is intended to serve as a companion to the exhibition of the same title, currently at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. If the show is sparse in didactic information, this book more than remedies that situation with twenty-seven essays by twenty-four notable scholars, heavily illustrated with objects from the exhibition. The subject matter runs from art to history to religion to the relationship of the Aztec people with their natural environment. Not all of the more than 400 items in the show are included in this book, but a separate softcover volume serves as a complete catalogue.
The Desert Southwest: Four Thousand Years of Life and Art - (ENGLISH)
The authors of this book have long been dedicated to the pottery of the Southwest and have previously published Southwestern Pottery, Anasazi to Zuni. With their joint interest in the subject matter, they also found that much of the existing literature was inaccessible from a beginner’s perspective, since most writers are scholars and experts on the topic. The Desert Southwest is an account of the culture, development, and art of this area, written in an easily comprehensible form. The fact that it has been written by laymen does not mean that the information is less valuable and accurate. The authors have done extensive research through collecting, study, and travel, enough to make this a compelling publication for ones just starting to discover this area’s arts, and a useful quick reference to those with greater knowledge.
The Earl W. Duncan Collection of Navajo and Pueblo Silver Bridles - (ENGLISH)
In 1953, Earl Duncan was entered in a rodeo in Grass Valley, California, where he saw that another participant, a Native American cowboy, had a magnifi cent silver bridal on his horse. He never forgot this object and, over the course of more than half a century as an Indian art dealer, he formed a small but exquisite collection of silver horse bridals and related equipment made by the peoples of the American Southwest. With photography by Neil Becker augmented by a few well-chosen historic images, this thin but beautiful book documents this collection largely through images. While the silver adornment made by Southwest artists for people is well known, this is a fascinating window into the rich and complex silver adornment created for their most important working partner, the horse.
The Ella M. Cain Collection of Mono Lake Paiute Basketry - (ENGLISH)
Ella Margaret Cain (1882-1966) grew up and spent her life in the Sierra Nevada towns of Bodie and Bridgeport. Over three-quarters of a century, she collected and left behind a legacy of more than 300 Native American baskets. Her basket collection focused on the 1910-1930 era, sometimes referred to as "the golden age" of Californian basketry, and she acquired them both individually and by purchasing entire collections. This book is a memorial tribute to Cain and her love for this wonderful art form and the people who made them. It features comprehensive illustrations of her collection accompanied by detailed descriptions. Part of her collection can be found at the Mono County Museum in Bridgeport, California. A portion of it is being marketed by Bonhams and Butterfields, which elected to produce this document of what was perhaps the last of the great early basket collections in the West.
The Horse Rider in African Art - (ENGLISH)
The horse is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Africa or its cultures and natural habitats. As such, it is a pleasant surprise to come across such an extensive volume that focuses solely on this particular aspect of African art. Despite the general absence of this animal in African culture, the equestrian figure is oddly prominent in its art, especially that of the Yoruba and Senufo, as well as in the Inland Delta region in Mali. Many of these artists had never even seen a horse and their carvings were based largely on a concept of the animal. The objects depicted are drawn from both museum holdings and private collections, and the larger part of the hefty book is dedicated to plates of these objects. Rather than by region, these are divided by medium: wood, metal, terracotta, stone, ivory, and beadwork. It is an impressive work, showcasing these powerful animals in different forms and stature, and it features several extremely informative essays.
The Indian Frontier: 1846–1890 - (ENGLISH)
First published in 1984, this work is considered a classic for both scholars and students of Indian-white relations in the trans-Mississippi West in the nineteenth century. It presents the history of this interaction with a critical rather than sensational manner. This revised edition has been updated with scholarship and research that has advanced the field over the last two decades.
The Maya Vase Conservation Project - (ENGLISH)
This is a detailed discussion on issues relating to the conservation of Maya vessels. It is written in simple terms for lay readers who are curious about the importance and process of restoration. Nineteen vessels dating from about AD 700 were treated in this project, and the reader can follow the process, from what materials are used to how it is done (and redone). The importance of maintaining the object’s integrity (i.e., not adding or removing elements) is also discussed. The beauty and perfection of these vases is striking, but it is not necessarily as important as the archaeological story the artifact expresses. The CD that accompanies the printed publication shows the vessels before, during and after treatment. Grant is a conservator at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
The Nok Culture. Art in Nigeria 2 500 Years Ago - (ENGLISH)
Nok art, first discovered by miners in 1928, has taken its place as one of the most sophisticated and spectacular artistic traditions of the African continent. This new book on these ancient terracotta sculptures is superbly illustrated and is an interesting introduction its ancient and enigmatic subject matter. However, readers aware of the issues associated with the identification of excavated objects will wish for more information on the sources of the hundreds of Nok, Sokoto and Katsina terracottas illustrated here, especially in light of the iconographic richness that many of them display. Additionally, overall condition analysis by CT scanning would have been a valuable augmentation to the thermoluminescence tests that are included, since the latter only dates a tiny sample