A few new books on our shelves celebrating some radically different approaches to the visual arts.

Sea of dreams : the lure of Port Phillip Bay 1830-1914

Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, 2011

Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, 2011

This catalogue from the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery is a lovely souvenir of a very fine exhibition which celebrated the inspiration artists of all persuasions have drawn from our own Port Phillip Bay. Geoffrey Blainey, in a charming introduction, sets the scene beautifully: “Port Phillip Bay is rarely if ever celebrated in this way. After all, Melbourne, for valid reasons, is less exuberant about its harbour than is Sydney; and yet this wide expanse of Bay stands high in the imagination and affection of generations of Victorians.”

Illustration now! Portraits edited by Julius Wiedemann

Taschen, 2011

Taschen, 2011

I’m always fascinated by the distinction made between illustration and “art”, very often seemingly dictated by nothing less wobbly than a disdain for pictorial material created for purely commercial purposes. This terrific volume from Taschen brings together a vast array of contemporary portraits created by some of the world’s leading illustrators, ranging from the hyper realistic to the playfully comic to the full-on caricature. All of them challenge the usefulness of these odd distinctions.

Spectrum 18: the best in contemporary fantastic art edited by Cathy Fenner and Arnie Fenner

Underwood Books, 1994 -

Underwood Books, 1994 -

Speaking of challenges, these annual volumes bringing together some of the most notable imagery from the realms of science-fiction, fantasy, comics and gaming are a sure-fire way to stretch your visual art sensibilities!

Surreal objects : three dimensional works from Dalí to Man Ray edited by Ingrid Pfeiffer and Max Hollein

Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011
Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011

We have become used to the bizarre juxtaposition of unlikely objects, images, sounds and even thoughts in this ultra post-modern world of ours, but even so some of these three dimensional creations from the crucible of the Surrealist movement can take you by surprise. I suppose the question is, what do you do for an encore?

A charming view of Port Phillip Bay from our Picture Collection

Overlooking the Bay, Mornington (H98.56/5)

Overlooking the Bay, Mornington (H98.56/5)

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