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Art History Illustration Photography

A New Book Flies Through the Vast World of Birds from Art and Design to History and Ornithology

November 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

Ernst Haeckel, Trochilidae – Kolibris, from Kunstformen der Natur, 1904. Chromolithograph, 36 × 26 cm / 14 × 10 ¼ in. Picture credit: Kunstformen der Natur

Bird: Exploring the Winged World is an extensive celebration of feathered creatures across thousands of years of art, science, and popular culture. Published by Phaidon, the stunning, 352-page volume compiles works from hundreds of artists, illustrators, photographers, and designers—including Lorna Simpson (previously), Nick Cave (previously), Ernst Haeckel (previously), and Florentijn Hofman (previously)—who choose ostriches, flamingos, and other avians as their central motifs. Each spread connects two distinct works from different periods, pairing anatomical renderings with James Audubon’s illustrations and striking contemporary portraits with vintage advertisements.

In addition to hundreds of images, the forthcoming tome features an introduction by Katrina van Grouw and information about urban birding experiences and taxonomies. Copies are available from Bookshop on November 10.

 

Allen & Ginter, Birds of the Tropics, 1889. Chromolithograph, 7.3 × 8.3 cm / 2 7/8 × 3 ¼ in, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Picture credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Jefferson R.Burdick Collection, Gift of Jefferson R. Burdick

Elizabeth Butterworth, Lear’s Macaw, 2005. Gouache, ink, and pencil on paper, 25 × 34 cm / 9 ¼ × 13 3/8 in, Private collection. Picture credit: © Elizabeth Butterworth

Florentijn Hofman, Rubber Duck, 2013. PVC, H. 16.5 m / 21 ft, temporary installation, Hong Kong. Picture credit: All Rights Reserved, courtesy Studio Florentijn Hofman

Matt Stuart, Trafalgar Square, 2004. Photograph, dimensions variable. Picture credit: © Matt Stuart

John James Audubon (engraved by Robert Havell), American Flamingo, from The Birds of America, double elephant folio edition, 1838. Hand-coloured etching and aquatint, 97 × 65 cm / 38 ¼ × 25 5/8 in. Picture credit: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC: Gift of Mrs. Walter B. James

Oiva Toikka, Birds by Toikka, 1972–present. Mouth-blown glass, dimensions variable, Iittala collection. Picture credit: All rights reserved by Fiskars Finland Oy Ab/Photographer Timo Junttila, Designer Oiva Toikka

Andy Holden and Peter Holden, Natural Selection, 2018. Mixed media, Temporary installation at Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, UK. Picture credit: Andy Holden/Photograph by Alison Bettles

 

 



Illustration

'A Library of Misremembered Books' Is a Witty, Illustrated Compendium of Mistaken Titles

November 5, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Chronicle Books, shared with permission

Marina Luz’s A Library of Misremembered Books is an ode to all of our favorite titles that we can’t quite recall: there’s the ’80’s high-school classic “Popular Girls Who Shoplift,” the one with the “Cat Possibly Named Henry,” and the strangely philosophical sci-fi fantasy “Lady Becomes Immortal Because of Aliens.”

Published by Chronicle, the illustrated book compiles Luz’s witty, satirical takes on the task of entering a shop, finding a lucky salesperson, and describing that novel you read a few years ago about a time-traveling family that had a purple cover… or was it pink? Categorized by genre—which includes the strange mishmash “Umm…” category with titles like “Colonial Presidents Recipes”—Luz’s compendium spans subject matter and a range of cover design trends from ethereal, pulp fiction with bold fonts to streamlined compositions with clean type and solid backdrops.

A Library of Misremembered Books is available from Bookshop, and you also might enjoy the Fukui Prefectural Library’s habit of chronicling mistaken titles. (via Kottke)

 

 

 

 



Art Craft

Knotted Systems of Red Thread Dangle from Fabric Books and Letters by Rima Day

November 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Rima Day, shared with permission

Bound with loose threads and inscribed with sinuous lines that crawl across the page, the textile works created by Tennessee-based artist Rima Day evoke the Japanese good luck charms called sennibari. Translating to “thousand person stitches,” the Japanese amulet was developed during war times when women would ask friends, family, and even strangers to make a knot on a piece of fabric, which was then gifted to a soldier for protection. Some of the collectively made works depicted “animals such as a tiger, meaningful kanji, a picture of the Japanese imperial flag, or just geometrical patterns,” the artist tells Colossal, and often were stitched into vests or sashes so they could be worn.

In Day’s iterations, the loose threads hang from letters and books with translucent pages, two objects emblematic of communication and knowledge sharing, with winding systems puncturing their surfaces. “Red thread symbolizes human connection in Japan,” she says. “My fascination with the similarity between nature and the human body manifested in matrixes that resemble blood vessels, root systems, and tree vines.”

Day’s work is currently on view as part of a group craft exhibition at Tennessee State Museum. She shares a variety of her fiber-based pieces on Instagram and sells stitched cyanotype prints and other sculptural objects on Etsy. You also might enjoy the sprawling words of Janaina Mello Landini. (via Lustik)

 

 

 



Illustration

An Illustrated Children's Book Is a Sensitive Retelling of a Timber Elephant's Role in WWII

November 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Flying Eye Books, shared with permission

Meet Bandoola, an Asian timber elephant the British Army enlisted in WWII. Purchased as a calf, the lumbering creature was shipped to a teak plantation where he was forced to drag and push logs across the landscape to construct bridges and other structures. Bandoola’s life, while fictionalized by London-based illustrator and author William Grill in his forthcoming children’s book, is based on the true story of Elephant Bill, a soldier who worked with the animals in forestry camps during the war.

In Grill’s illustrated retelling published by Flying Eye Books, Bandoola encounters veteran James Howard Williams, and the two forge an unusual friendship when they’re tasked with leading refugees and 70 elephants from Burma to India. The tale explores themes of animal cruelty and care and conservation, using textured drawings in pastel tones as a soothing complement to the story’s otherwise harsh realities. In a conversation with It’s Nice That, Grill explains that he achieved softer lines by tilting his pencil on its side, and similar to a lithograph, he drew individually colored layers for each scene before putting them together. “My drawing style is somewhat naive and simple. I try to tread a line between observation and impressionism,” he says. “I would say my visual language is observational but has some underlying character and emotion to it. Hopefully, it comes across as warm and not cold.”

Bandoola: The Great Elephant Rescue is available for pre-order on Bookshop, where you can also find Grill’s previous books The Wolves of Currumpaw and Earth Verse with similarly colorful drawings and nature-based themes. Head to the illustrator’s Instagram for behind-the-scenes looks at his process.

 

 

 



Craft Documentary

In 'Raw Craft,' the Late Anthony Bourdain Visits the Bay Area Press Utilizing 19th-Century Bookmaking Techniques

October 28, 2021

Grace Ebert

Regardless of its unabashed tech culture, San Francisco remains a hub for analog artforms, hosting an annual festival that uses a 7-ton steamroller to print linocuts and housing one of the last remaining publishers of its kind. Arion Press is dedicated to the age-old practice of bookmaking, and with a small team of type casters, proofreaders, printers, and binders, painstakingly produces artist publications entirely by hand.

An episode of Raw Craft, a film series produced by The Balvenie distillery, visits the publisher with the late Anthony Bourdain as host. For three seasons, the beloved chef, writer, and travel icon toured the U.S. visiting tailors, metal casters, saxophone designers, and myriad crafters devoted to traditional techniques. On his stop at Arion Press, Bourdain explores all steps of the bookmaking process, from using 19th Century technology to print each letter with metal type, proofing the text by reading out loud, and stitching each page by hand.

Dive into the publisher’s process in the episode above, check out some of its latest projects on Instagram, and browse publications, notebooks, cards, and other goods in its shop. You also might enjoy this film chronicling the last day of hot metal typesetting at The New York Times.

 

 

 



Design Illustration

32 Wildly Different Cover Designs Interpret Dave Eggers' New Sci-fi Novel

October 21, 2021

Grace Ebert

By Clare Rojas. All images courtesy of McSweeney’s, shared with permission

Coinciding with the rise of the vibrant book cover blob, Dave Eggers’ new novel takes a profoundly divergent approach. The Every was released this month by McSweeney’s—the author is also the founder of the San Francisco-based independent publishing house—and is a follow up to his hit dystopian work The Circle. Despite a similar focus on the rise of surveillance capitalism, The Every features 32 different cover illustrations and graphic renderings, casting each interpretation as a design object in its own right.

Eve Weinsheimer created sixteen of the jackets, which display the book’s swirling logo designed by Jessica Hische in a variety of color combinations. The remainder range in aesthetic and style and include Robyn O’Neil’s dark graphite drawings, minimal tableaus by Clare Rojas that position tiny figures among imposing environments, and the dizzying geometries of Kristin Farr.

McSweeney’s dispersed all 32 editions of the book at random to independent bookstores, notably skipping Amazon because “I don’t like bullies,” Eggers told The New York Times, and plans to print more in the future. Some of the designs are available in the publisher’s shop. (via It’s Nice That)

 

By Clare Rojas

Top left: By Kristin Farr. Top right: Robyn O’Neil. Bottom left: By Chris Johanson. Bottom right: By Eve Weinsheimer

By Geoff McFetridge

Top left: By Clare Rojas. Top right: By Jon Adams. Bottom left: By Kristin Farr. Bottom right: By Tucker Nichols

By Robyn O’Neil