The Art Museum, by the editors of Phaidon Press ($59.95), brings together an astonishing cross-section of work from around the globe and throughout time, reproduced in over 1,600 beautiful color images. The reader can jump from virtual room to virtual room by flipping the pages, or stay in one place for a comprehensive study. This book is perfect for an art lover, a person who wants to learn about art, or someone who loves art but whose feet just can’t take the Smithsonian anymore. A single book doesn’t get more entertaining or informative than this, and finally there is no crowd standing in front of what you want to see.
Women Artists in Paris: 1850-1900 (Yale, $65) edited by Laurence Madeline, former curator at the Musée d’Orsay, is a must-own for art lovers, historians, and feminists alike. This stunning exhibition catalogue presents over eighty paintings by thirty-seven different artists. Paris in the late nineteenth century was considered the place for artists to train, and people came from around the world to develop their technique. This catalogue is a testament to the exceptional and varied work produced by the women who journeyed to Paris to pursue their artistic ambitions. These artists fought to achieve recognition at a time when artistic talent and creative genius were thought to be reserved for men, all the while also trying to adhere to the social norms that governed the lives of respectable women. They persevered in the face of rejection and condescension, and created masterful works of art in the process. The scholarly essays that open the book are fascinating and well worth the read, but the catalog of full-page color reproductions that follow are what readers will find irresistible. Here you will encounter works by household names like Mary Cassatt alongside those by artists still waiting to achieve the widespread public recognition they are due, such as Marie Bashkirtseff and Cecilia Beaux.
Projects (Abrams, $85) chronicles forty-four Andy Goldsworthy installations around the world, as they change and evolve with their environments. This book, a companion volume to Goldsworthy’s Ephemeral Works, includes stunning photographs, site maps, and an extensive interview. You’ll find his usual cones and labyrinths made of wood and stone, but unlike his “ephemeral” works, whose construction marked an endpoint, these pieces began life only when Goldsworthy finished them, for they evolve as they are weathered by the seasons. Goldsworthy documents, for example, walls covered in porcelain clay, as they dry, crack and tear away, and enormous slate chambers, enclosing wind-fallen branches, which gradually transform as moss and fungi cover them. He repaves an ancient forest track with rectangular stones and cuts a new path across an Ohio estate, always maintaining 950 feet above sea level. An igloo of woven branches sits inside a pit, accessed through a doorway via steps in a terraced wall. A flowing line of fallen cypress weaves through eucalyptus trees, which overtake a California landscape. But whatever he does in these installations, Goldsworthy invites us to experience nature freshly. This gorgeous, glossy volume will make an extraordinary gift for the art or nature lover in your life.