Saturday, December 10, 2011

Here are five new distribution titles:

Five Blessings: Coded Messages in Chinese Art by Estelle Nikles Van Osselt. This gorgeously produced book reveals the hidden meaning behind motifs in Chinese decorative arts. When any Westerner looks at Chinese art, it is immediately apparent how much the depiction of animal and plant life differs from its American or European equivalent. This exceptional world teems with flowers, trees, birds, fish, shellfish, and insects, mixed with fantastic creatures or figures taken from legend and mythology. Various motifs can appear together in one scene, and if the viewer understands the language, the images are charged with symbolism. This absorbing study explores the rich symbolic language of exquisite works in ceramic, jade, lacquer, glass, and silk from the world-renowned Baur Collection. With bibliography.

Tracing the Past, Drawing the Future: Master Ink Painters in the Twentieth-Century China by Yang Xiaoneng. This substantial volume examines a crucial turning point in the development of Chinese ink painting in the twentieth century, a change represented by the beautiful and innovative work of four artists, Wu Changshuo (1844-1927), Qi Baishi (1863-1957), Huang Binhong (1864-1955), and Pan Tianshou (1897-1971). With careers spanning over a century of radical change in China, these artists were instrumental in propelling the ancient tradition of Chinese ink painting into the modern era in the face of compelling Western influences. As a group, their work represents an alternative approach to questions of relevance and modernity. This lavish book illuminates the context in which these artists worked, describes their overall contribution to the history of Chinese art, and highlights their individual ideas and achievements. In his introductory essay, Xiaoneng Yang offers a brief historical background for the evolution of modern Chinese painting. Richard E. Vinograd analyzes the "alternative modernism" represented by these artists, each of whom worked in the brush-and-ink idiom, confronted the shift toward practices of the West, and gave new life through this confrontation to cherished traditions. Essays devoted to each artist are followed by individual entries discussing their works. Featuring more than one hundred works of both painting and calligraphy by the four artists, the book, which is published to accompany a traveling exhibition, also includes a glossary, an index and detailed bibliography.

Wood Sculpture in Nepal: Jokers and Talismans by Berrand Goy and Max Itzikovitz. In the 1980s, enigmatic wood masks, similar to those worn by Siberian and Eskimo shamans, began to appear in Parisian galleries that specialized in exotic art. Only the customary red wax affixed to the objects indicated that their origin was in fact Nepal. Art lovers, fascinated by the masks' expressions and the thickness of patina, enthusiastically began to collect them, though they were still shrouded in mystery. In this beautifully photographed book, Bertrand Goy and Max Itzikovitz set out to uncover the history of the masks and to determine their place in Nepalese culture. The authors also investigate western Nepal's unsophisticated, anthropomorphic wood sculptures, which can be seen today in temples, on bridges, and on the outskirts of villages. No one knows if these are protective effigies or tribute to divinities from an antiquated religion. With an insightful text and striking imagery, this book attempts to pull back the veil on one of the world's most cryptic art forms. With bibliography.

On Marginal Spaces: Artefacts of the Mundane by Peter Benz. This photo essay book is a whimsical contemplation about the things that we don't notice in our environment. Born of a quest for beauty, profundity and recurrences, Peter Benz's photographs and essays about urban objects and spaces are of especial interest to researchers of visual culture, urban studies, architecture, photography, design, art and philosophy. With bibliography.

Chinese Posters: The Iish-Landsberger Collections by Stefan Landsberger and Marien Van Der Heijden. Opening with a brief introduction to the history of graphic arts propaganda in China, this volume presents the posters chronologically, illustrating the change in subject matter following seismic changes in China's history and development. These posters are a valuable record of China's challenges and fears as well as a reflection of its cultural mores, and are a legitimate and fascinating aspect of China's artistic history.

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