Tag Archives: Books

New Astronomy Books: “Expanding Universe – The Hubble Space Telescope”

With investigations into everything from black holes to exoplanets, the Hubble Telescope has changed not only the face of astronomy but also our very sense of being in the universe. On the 30th anniversary of its launch into low-earth orbit, this updated edition of Expanding Universe presents 30 brand new images, unveiling more hidden gems from the Hubble’s archives.

Expanding Universe - The Hubble Space Telescope - Taschen June 2020

Ultra-high resolution and taken with almost no background light, these pictures have answered some of the most compelling questions of time and space while also revealing new mysteries, like the strange “dark energy” that sees the universe expanding at an ever-accelerating rate.

The collection is accompanied by an essay from photography critic Owen Edwards and an interview with Zoltan Levay, who explains how the pictures are composed. Veteran Hubble astronauts Charles F. Bolden, Jr. and John Mace Grunsfeld also offer their insights on Hubble’s legacy and future space exploration.

The contributors

Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Major General, USMC (Ret.), is a former Administrator of NASA, where he oversaw the completion of the International Space Station. He spent 14 years as a member of NASA’s Astronaut Corps, and commanded and piloted the Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-31, which launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.

Owen Edwards has written about photography for more than 30 years for numerous publications including American PhotographerNew York Times Magazine, and Smithsonian.

John Mace Grunsfeld, PhD, is an astrophysicist and a NASA astronaut. He has flown five times on the Space Shuttle, including three Hubble servicing missions. He has served as the Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, the NASA Chief Scientist, and as the Deputy Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Zoltan Levay is a retired principle science visuals developer at the Space Telescope Science Institute, where he worked with astronomers and communicators worldwide to publicize science results from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

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Art & Photography Books: “Massimo Listri -Cabinet of Curiosities” (Taschen)

From the Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici and Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II to Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg, these aristocratic virtuosos acquired, selected, and displayed the objects in real-life catalogues that represented the entire world—spanning architecture, interior design, painting, sculpture, gemology, geology, botany, biology and taxonomy, astrology, alchemy, anthropology, ethnography, and history.

Listri

The Wunderkammer, or “cabinet of curiosities,” saw collectors gathering objects from many strands of artistic, scientific, and intellectual endeavor, in an ambitious attempt to encompass all of humankind’s knowledge in a single room.

Marvel at the unicorn horns (narwhal tusks), gems, rare coral growths, Murano glasswork, paintings and peculiar mechanical automata. Browse through illustrations of exotic and mythical creatures and discover the famed “Coburg ivories,” an astounding collection of crafted artifacts. These collections are nothing short of a journey through time, from the Renaissance and Age of Discovery, the Mannerist and Baroque periods, up to the present day. Although many of these cabinets of curiosities no longer exist, others have been meticulously reconstructed, and new ones born.

These marvelous cabinets of curiosities can now be explored by all in this XXL collection. To realize this mammoth undertaking, Massimo Listri traveled to seven European countries over several decades; the result is a set of gorgeous photographs, an authoritative yet accessible introduction, and detailed commentary on each of the 19 chambers highlighting the most remarkable items in each collection. Discover how these timeless treasures both describe and defined civilization, the modern concept of the museum, and our very knowledge of the universe.

The authors

Giulia ML Carciotto graduated in art history from the Sapienza University in Rome. She was a Research Fellow at the Warburg Institute in London, where she also worked for Christie’s. She was editor-in-chief of the art publisher Franco Maria Ricci Editore in Milan, and now teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo and at the Abadir Academy in Catania.

Antonio Paolucci studied art history under Roberto Longhi in Florence and began his career in the management of cultural heritage. He was the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage in Venice, Verona, and Mantua. He later became Director of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence and, for almost twenty years, the Superintendent for the Polo Museale Fiorentino. Most recently, Paolucci was the Director of the Vatican Museums from 2007 to 2016. A specialist in Italian Renaissance art, he is the author of museum and exhibition catalogues, as well as publications on Donatello, Piero della Francesca, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Benvenuto Cellini, among others.

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Podcast Interviews: Alexander Vreeland On His Fashion Journalist Grandmother “Diana”

The StackAlexander Vreeland, grandson of fashion journalist Diana Vreeland, tells us about his new book, ‘Bon Mots: Words of Wisdom from the Empress of Fashion’.

81vcK3Ok10LDiana Vreeland’s insightful edicts and evocative aphorisms remain her strongest legacy. She looked at life as a romantic and lived through dreams and imagination. Showing leadership, vision, and timeless wit, this book celebrates her visionary words that not only transformed the world of fashion, but also gave us sage advice to live by.

Sourced and edited by her grandson Alexander, Diana Vreeland: Bon Mots covers Vreeland’s incisive views of subjects such as allure, fashion, and style (“I mean, a new dress doesn’t get you anywhere; it’s the life you’re living in the dress”); beauty (“The neck is the beginning and end of looking like anybody”); age (“The quickest way to show your age is to try to look young”); color (“Black is the hardest color to get right–except for gray”); and her powerfully creative way of thinking (“I’m looking for the suggestion of something I’ve never seen”) Brought to life by illustrator Luke Edward Hall, Bon Mots vividly displays Mrs. Vreeland’s original thought and speech, which is equally as inspiring and relevant now as it was then.

About the Author

Diana Vreeland (1903-1989) joined Harper’s Bazaar as fashion editor in 1936; was the editor in chief of Vogue from 1962 to 1971; and later oversaw the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Alexander Vreeland has had an extensive career in fashion and beauty and is the president of the Diana Vreeland Estate and the author of Diana Vreeland Memos (Rizzoli, 2013) and Diana Vreeland: The Modern Woman (Rizzoli, 2015). Luke Edward Hall is a London-based artist and designer.

Top New Books: “The Language Of Butterflies” By Wendy Williams (2020)

The Language of ButterfliesButterflies are one of the world’s most beloved insects. From butterfly gardens to zoo exhibitions, they are one of the few insects we’ve encouraged to infiltrate our lives. Yet, what has drawn us to these creatures in the first place? And what are their lives really like? In this groundbreaking book, New York Times bestselling author and science journalist Wendy Williams reveals the inner lives of these “flying flowers”—creatures far more intelligent and tougher than we give them credit for.

In this fascinating book from the New York Times bestselling author of The Horse, Wendy Williams explores the lives of one of the world’s most resilient creatures—the butterfly—shedding light on the role that they play in our ecosystem and in our human lives.

Monarch butterflies migrate thousands of miles each year from Canada to Mexico. Other species have learned how to fool ants into taking care of them. Butterflies’ scales are inspiring researchers to create new life-saving medical technology. Williams takes readers to butterfly habitats across the globe and introduces us to not only various species, but to the scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying them.

Coupled with years of research and knowledge gained from experts in the field, this accessible “butterfly biography” explores the ancient partnership between these special creatures and humans, and why they continue to fascinate us today. Touching, eye-opening, and incredibly profound, The Language of Butterflies reveals the critical role they play in our world.

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New History Books: “The Year 1000” By Valerie Hansen (Getty Podcast)

Getty Arts+IdeasValerie Hansen explores these early economic and cultural exchanges and their long-term impact in her new book “The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World―and Globalization Began”, which originated as a college course co-taught with Mary Miller, director of the Getty Research Institute. In this episode, Hansen and Miller discuss the state of the world around the year 1000.

The Year 1000 - When Explorers Connected the World - and Globalization Began - Valerie HansenFrom celebrated Yale professor Valerie Hansen, a groundbreaking work of history showing that bold explorations and daring trade missions connected all of the world’s great societies for the first time at the end of the first millennium.

People often believe that the years immediately prior to AD 1000 were, with just a few exceptions, lacking in any major cultural developments or geopolitical encounters, that the Europeans hadn’t yet reached North America, and that the farthest feat of sea travel was the Vikings’ invasion of Britain. But how, then, to explain the presence of blonde-haired people in Maya temple murals at Chichén Itzá, Mexico? Could it be possible that the Vikings had found their way to the Americas during the height of the Maya empire?

Valerie Hansen, an award-winning historian, argues that the year 1000 was the world’s first point of major cultural exchange and exploration. Drawing on nearly thirty years of research, she presents a compelling account of first encounters between disparate societies, which sparked conflict and collaboration eerily reminiscent of our contemporary moment.

For readers of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Yuval Noah Harari’s SapiensThe Year 1000 is an intellectually daring, provocative account that will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about how the modern world came to be. It will also hold up a mirror to the hopes and fears we experience today.

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Art Books: “Art, Artifact, Artifice” By James Prosek

Award-winning artist, writer, and naturalist James Prosek (b. 1975) has gained a worldwide following for his deep connection with the natural world, which serves as the basis for his art and numerous popular books. In this cross-disciplinary catalogue, Prosek poses the question, What is art and what is artifact—and to what extent do these distinctions matter? 

Drawing on the collections of the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Prosek places man- and nature-made objects on equal footing aesthetically, suggesting that the distinction between them is not as vast as we may believe. In more than 150 full-color plates, objects such as a bird’s nest, dinosaur head, and cuneiform tablet are juxtaposed with Asian handscrolls, an African headdress, modern masterpieces, and more. Artists featured include Albrecht Dürer, Helen Frankenthaler, Vincent van Gogh, Barbara Hepworth, Pablo Picasso, and Jackson Pollack, as well as Prosek himself, whose works depict fish, birds, and endangered wildlife. Also included are an incisive essay by Edith Devaney and texts by Prosek that explore the magnificent productions of our wondrous interconnected world.

New Art Books: “Walton Ford – Pancha Tantra”

walton_ford_update_2020_fp_int_3d_43453_2001151040_id_1294265In this stunning but sinister visual universe, beasts and birds are not mere aesthetic objects but dynamic actors in allegorical struggles: a wild turkey crushes a small parrot in its claw; a troupe of monkeys wreaks havoc on a formal dinner table; an American buffalo is surrounded by bloodied white wolves. In dazzling watercolor, the images impress as much for their impeccable realism as they do for their complex narratives.

At first glance, Walton Ford’s large-scale, highly detailed watercolors of animals recall the prints of 19th-century illustrators John James Audubon and Edward Lear. A closer look reveals a complex and disturbingly anthropomorphic universe, full of symbols, sly jokes, and allusions to the ‘operatic’ quality of traditional natural history.

Walton Ford - Pancha Tantra - Taschen

First available as a signed and limited volume, this updated edition of Pancha Tantra is the most comprehensive survey of Ford’s oeuvre to date, with 40 new works, more than 120 additional pages, and a new essay by the artist. It features dazzling details, an in-depth exploration of his visual universe, a complete biography, and excerpts from his textual inspirations: from Indian folktales and the letters of Benjamin Franklin to the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini and Audubon’s  Ornithological Biography.

Also available in an Art Edition limited to 100 copies, each with a print signed by Walton Ford

The artist

Walton Ford, born 1960, studied filmmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design, but soon realized he was a painter. For the last 20 years he has been creating large-scale narrative watercolors. His work has been widely exhibited, including solo shows at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin and the Brooklyn Museum in New York.

The author

Bill Buford is an author and New Yorker staff writer, as well as the founding editor of Granta, which he edited for 16 years. His books include Among the Thugs and Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as a Kitchen Slave. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.

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Travel Books: “Sailing The Seas – A Voyager’s Guide To Oceanic Getaways” (2020)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASailing the Seas will take readers on a series of nautical adventures across the globe, from the coast of the USA down to the Caribbean, through classic Mediterranean voyages and on trips in far-flung locations such as Thailand and French Polynesia. Presenting a fresh, younger side of sailing, this volume reveals the sights, sounds, tastes, and experiences that can be had on board a boat.

Since the dawn of time, exploring the world by boat has been seen as the pinnacle of freedom. There is no greater adventure than setting sail, at the mercy of the wind, being sprayed by salty water as you voyage from island to island and sea to sea, discovering new landscapes and cultures.

Sailing The Seas - Gestalten 2020With beautiful photos of locations, detailed itineraries, and “Captain’s Notes” filled with useful tips and insights on destinations, Sailing the Seas will inspire novice sailors and “old salts” alike to take to the waves.

Text and preface by Dayyan Armstrong and Ross Beane

Sailing Collective is comprised of an energetic group of captains, culinary artists, and explorers with a shared enthusiasm for adventure. Their passion lies in curating journeys to the world’s most exotic locations, captained and crewed by talented professionals.

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Best New Fiction Books: “Shadowplay” By Joseph O’Connor – “Ingenious”

Shadowplay by Joseph O'Connor“Shadowplay” opens in Dublin in the winter of 1876, with O’Connor painting that ravishing city with a soft lyricism that Stoker himself might have envied: “Smacks heading down the estuary, trailing petticoats of nets, out towards the expanse of the sea.” Stoker, a government clerk who moonlights as a theater critic, is reeling from the visceral intensity of Irving’s performance in Dublin as Hamlet. “Eyes glowing red in the gaslight,” Irving terrifies the audience, “slinking towards the lip of the stage, left hand on hip, wiping his wet mouth with the back of his sleeve. Sneering, he regarded them. Then he spat.” (NY Times Review)

Henry Irving is Victorian London’s most celebrated actor and theater impresario. He has introduced groundbreaking ideas to the theater, bringing to the stage performances that are spectacular, shocking, and always entertaining. When Irving decides to open his own London theater with the goal of making it the greatest playhouse on earth, he hires a young Dublin clerk harboring literary ambitions by the name of Bram Stoker to manage it. As Irving’s theater grows in reputation and financial solvency, he lures to his company of mummers the century’s most beloved actress, the dazzlingly talented leading lady Ellen Terry, who nightly casts a spell not only on her audiences but also on Stoker and Irving both.

Bram Stoker’s extraordinary experiences at the Lyceum Theatre, his early morning walks on the streets of a London terrorized by a serial killer, his long, tempestuous relationship with Irving, and the closeness he finds with Ellen Terry, inspire him to write DRACULA, the most iconic and best-selling supernatural tale ever published.

A magnificent portrait both of lamp-lit London and of lives and loves enacted on the stage, Shadowplay’s rich prose, incomparable storytelling, and vivid characters will linger in readers’ hearts and minds for many years.

Novelist, screenwriter, playwright and broadcaster, Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. He is the author of nine novels including Star of the Sea, Ghost Light (Dublin One City One Book novel 2011) and Shadowplay (June 2019). Among his awards are the Prix Zepter for European Novel of the Year, France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, an American Library Association Award and the Irish Pen Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature. His work has been translated into forty languages. In 2014 he was appointed Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick. Twice-Booker Prize-winner Peter Carey has written, ‘There are few living writers who can take us back in time so assuredly, through such gorgeous sentences. Joseph O’Connor is a wonder, and Shadowplay is a triumph.’

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New Art Books: “Vincent’s Books – Van Gogh And The Writers Who Inspired Him”

From Hyperallergic (June 13, 2020):

Vincent's Books Van Gogh and the Writers Who Inspired Him - Mariella Guzzoni - 2020In his paintings we see books on their own, or books in the company of people or other objects; small, lonely ziggurats of books, or a book beside a candle. That last juxtaposition is telling in the extreme. Vincent had a reverence for books. They were sacred ground. They have a kind of inner glow about them.

He reverenced books for their intellectual and emotional content.

He read Dickens, Carlyle, Flaubert, Balzac, Maupassant, and Zola in the original. Dickens and Carlyle were never very easy to read, then or now, but this Dutchman did so. He even read English poetry – John Keats, for example.

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About the Author

Mariella Guzzoni is an independent scholar and translator living in Bergamo. She has been collecting editions of the books that Vincent van Gogh read and loved for many years, and curated the exhibition ‘Van Gogh’s Passion for Books’ at the Sormani Library, Milan, in 2015.