As a stunning overview of the aesthetic, style, and attitude of one of today’s most uncompromising musical artists, MIA follows the life and works of Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, aka M.I.A. Compiling photos, prints, collages, and digital graphics, the book weaves together a cross-section of the artist’s work from a London art school student to her fully-realised musical career. Containing lyrics, an interview, and 192 pages of vibrant color splash, the book offers a unique glimpse into the politics, life, and culture that informs her creative output to this day.
For over seventy productive years, through his many periods and recurring subjects, Pablo Picasso always returned to explore the monochromatic palette—in graphite and charcoal drawings, plaster, ceramic, or bronze sculpture, and his luscious oil paintings in black, white, and a rainbow of grays. For the exhibit, Picasso Black and White (Guggenheim/Prestel, $60), curator Carmen Giménez has chronologically assembled works from 1904 to 1971, and it’s a revelation. Picasso’s career-long improvisations on themes, styles, and the masters who came before him are especially evident; you see inspired riffs on ancient cave art, Greek sculpture and Roman mosaics, as well as on Ingres, El Greco, and Velásquez. Studies for Picasso’s masterpiece in monochrome, Guernica (1937), are here as well. The catalog features more than 150 reproductions, and essays by Picasso scholars Dore Ashton, Richard Schiff, and Olivier Berggruen. András Goldinger (Note: The exhibit will be at the Guggenheim through January 23, 2013, then travel to Houston.)
George Bellows combined visual reportage worthy of Daumier and Goya with brushstrokes that anticipated the free-form vibrancy of de Kooning. Walking through the Bellows retrospective at the National Gallery this summer (the show is now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through February 18), viewers experienced the many worlds that Bellows depicted—beyond his famous boxing paintings. There were leisurely promenaders in winter; tenement kids playing; tender portraits of the artist’s wife and daughters; roiling seascapes; and powerful anti-war and anti-lynching prints. Bellows’s paintings of the Pennsylvania Station excavations had the haunted look of the World Trade Center site. His prodigious and varied output was amazing, especially considering that he died at forty-two. The catalog, George Bellows (National Gallery of Art/Prestel, $60), has 270 illustrations as well as twelve prominent essays by curators and historians, each of whom address one of Bellows’s subjects.