World-renowned artist Andy Goldsworthy, OBE, has been creating sculptures from natural materials in natural conditions for more than three decades. Using only what he finds in nature—his “collaborator”—he sculpts artworks from earth, stones, leaves, flowers, icicles, pinecones, snow, twigs, or thorns, meticulously and intricately arranged, delicately placed and balanced, often incorporating the evanescent qualities of sunlight and shadow, and, intrinsically, the elemental forces that will effect their decay and disarrangement—wind, sun, ocean or river or rain, and, most of all, time. We perceive a deeper spirituality in these works, beyond their beauty and craft and labor. We are lucky that Goldsworthy documents these artworks in his photographs, works of art in themselves. The beautiful new showcase, Andy Goldsworthy: Ephemeral Works: 2004—2014 (Abrams, $85), features more than two hundred full-color plates of works from the recent decade. Arranged in chronological sequence, the exhibit yields a sense of time unfolding and receding as one turns the pages. This is a worthy addition to any Goldsworthy collection, or to any art book collection, indeed.
Al Hirschfeld’s pen lines—swooping, curling, and twisting—could distill a famous face to its calligraphic essence and make gestures dance on the page. His career began with Goldwyn Studios movie posters in the 1920s, and he was still doing his iconic theater drawings for The New York Times (where he worked for over seventy years) into the new millennium. As for chronicling American entertainment—whether theater, movies, or television, in newspapers, on magazine covers or record jackets—it was The Hirschfeld Century (Knopf, $40). The book is organized by decades, with text by Hirschfeld Foundation archivist David Leopold—who curated the accompanying New York Historical Society exhibit this year. You see the breadth of Hirschfeld’s early work, and watch his characteristic line emerge around 1930 (among his influences: Japanese woodcuts, Vanity Fair caricaturist Miguel Covarrubias, and a trip to Bali). As you leaf through the pages, you are also a witness to American theater history, since Hirschfeld drew every out-of-town preview in time for a Broadway opening. This beautifully produced book is the most complete and insightful work on Hirschfeld yet.
Curator Juliet Hacking—former head of the photography department at Sotheby’s, and now program director at the Sotheby’s Institute—has sifted primary and secondary sources to write the thirty-eight short, opinionated profiles in Lives of the Great Photographers (Thames & Hudson, $50). Each begins with a portrait (or self-portrait), and includes one or two representative images as well, beautifully printed on glossy paper. Familiar names are here—Arbus, Atget, Brassaï, Capa, Kertész, and Cameron—but so are names that are less well-known, and whose stories are no less intriguing: Madame Yevonde, Shōmei Tōmatsu, Claude Cahun, Clementina Maude (Lady Hawarden), Gustave Le Gray, and Albert Renger-Patzsch. The biographies have a cumulative power: they are arranged alphabetically, and by leapfrogging decades, formal approaches, historical movements, and changing critical opinion, you can make your own connections between eras, yet also see the hard work of each individual finding his or her own style. To quote Roy DeCarava, from Hacking’s profile: “documentary photographer…people photographer, street photographer, jazz photographer, black photographer…there’s nothing wrong with any of those definitions. The only trouble is that I need all of them to define myself.”