What makes a masterpiece? Not just a good question, but a great book title!

What makes a masterpiece? : artists, writers and curators on the world’s greatest works of art edited by Christopher Dell

Thames & Hudson, 2010

Thames & Hudson, 2010

This is one of those books that is genuinely hard to put down once you dip into it; believe me, I know! Taking as a starting point the much disputed question of what makes a masterpiece, editor Christopher Dell invites a range of artists, scholars, curators and critics to write about their favourite artworks, exploring precisely (and sometimes imprecisely) what it is about them that makes them so special. Fascinating!

A history of art in 20th-century China by Lü Peng

Charta, 2010

Charta, 2010

The rise of China as an economic power over recent decades has been mirrored by its ever increasing global prominence in the visual arts, and this single voume history (1284 pages no less!) covers in remarkable depth the development of Chinese art over the last century.

 

Fanzines : the DIY revolution by Teal Triggs

Chronicle Books, 2010

Chronicle Books, 2010

Fanzines (increasingly known as “zines” these days) have been around since at least the 1930s, possibly growing out of science-fiction clubs whose members wanted a way in which to distribute stories, artwork and commentary amongst themselves. From such humble beginnings grew one of the quirkiest and most prolific publishing forms imaginable, still going strong in our digital age and showing no signs of frailty or decline! This marvellous book traces the development of zines through the decades, and is richly illustrated with hundreds of wild images which testify to the ferocious creativity of their often anonymous creators. Proceed with caution!

Drama and desire : art and theatre from the French Revolution to the First World War edited by Guy Cogeval and Beatrice Avanzi

 

Skira, 2010

Skira, 2010

This beautifully illustrated book explores how, in the 18th and 19th centuries, the French visual arts and theatre seemed to come together, one influencing the other in a variety of different ways. You need only take a cursory look at some of the historical paintings of David and Delacroix to see the theatricality involved in the storytelling. The fact that artists such as these were also involved in the design of sets and costumes for theatrical productions is perhaps less well known than it should be.

Mug shots : an archive of the famous, infamous, and most wanted by Raynal Pellicer

Abrams, 2009

Abrams, 2009

Definitely not the glamour end of photography, the humble police mug-shot has come into its own in recent years, and this latest volume includes everyone from Parisian communards from the 1870s to O.J.Simpson in the 1990s. There’s even a very young Frank Sinatra here, but I’m not telling what he’s in for!

 

A rather famous local mug-shot

Ned Kelly the day before he was hanged 1880

Ned Kelly the day before he was hanged 1880

 

 

 

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