A mixed bag of new books in Arts; could you ask for anything more?

Florence Young and the golden years of Australian musical theatre by Frank Van Straten

Beleura (Mornington) 2009

Beleura (Mornington) 2009

When I had the great pleasure of working on our Theatre Programmes Collection many years ago now, the name Florence Young seemed to pop up constantly on material from around the turn of the 20th century. It was clear that she was a major star of musical comedy, and it’s great to see this marvellous biography of her appear from another icon of Australian theatre, Frank van Straten. Lavishly illustrated, this terrific book brings to life the incredibly vibrant theatrical scene of the day, along with that of one of its very brightest stars. Lovely!

White riot : punk rock and the politics of race: edited by Stephen Duncombe and Maxwell Tremblay

Verso, 2011

Verso, 2011

We shall not hazard a guess as to what Miss Young might have thought about Punk Rock; the stately star of The Duchess of Dantzig and The Merry Widow might not have taken a shine to groups such as the Sex Pistols or Bad Brains (although I could be doing her a disservice…). Tempus does indeed fugit however, and it’s rather inspiring to see these two books sitting happily side-by-side on the new books shelf! And if the raucous world of Punk is more your thing, this incredible collection of essays and “rants” explores the fraught and often explosive dialogue about race and identity that seemed the very stuff of Punk as it took hold around the world.

The adventures of Herge:  written by Jose-Louis Bocquet and Jean-Luc Fromental ; illustrated by Stanislas Barthelemy

Drawn & Quarterly, 2011

Drawn & Quarterly, 2011

This is a real charmer! For those of you who love the comic book adventures of Tintin the name Herge will be instantly recognisable, as will the style of this Tintinesque telling of his life story. Living through two world wars (and somewhat artistically compromised by one of them), Georges Prosper Remi  (aka. Herge) had a life interesting enough for graphic retelling, and this delightful adventure works as both a whistle-stop life story and charming homage.

50 American artists you should know by Debra N. Mancoff

Prestel, 201

Prestel, 2011

Sometimes these canonical books (canon-fodder?) can be just plain annoying, but this series from Prestel is shaping up quite nicely. Beautifully illustrated with well chosen examples of each artist’s work, the authors of these two volumes combine an entertaining writing style with perceptive and informative observations that place each subject within clear historical and cultural contexts.

50 British artists you should know by Linda Hawksley

Prestel, 2011

Prestel, 2011

From our Picture Collection: a portrait of Florence Young with sundry other theatricals, and a game of costume-football (I’m not making this up, you know….)

The Dramatic Costume Football Match, 1894

The Dramatic Costume Football Match, 1894

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