When the UPS guy rang the bell yesterday I knew that the "thud" on the doorstep that followed had to be Thomas Williams' new book "The Bay Area School: Californian Artists from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s" and I was right. I am about halfway through it (nice book!) and after a week or so "The Bay Area School" will move to the carved bench in our front room where the three ziggurats of art books grow higher and higher each month.
Here is a selection of art books and catalogs that can enjoy while forgetting the summer heat and sipping your favorite cold beverage. Let me start out with a bounty of books about West Coast artists, who are finally getting the critical attention they have long deserved.
The University of California Press issued two beautiful catalogs this past March. The first is "Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu," which was created to accompany the artist's much lauded recent retrospective at the Oakland Museum of California. The second is "A Troublesome Subject: The Art of Robert Arneson." I am especially interested in the Arneson book, the first major monograph on the very hilarious and self-lacerating ceramicist who succumbed to cancer in 1992. If ever an art book was overdue, this is it: Arneson was the bomb!
While mentioning some of the heavier new reads out there this summer, I need to thank Professor Boris Röhrl for sending me a copy of "World History of Realism in Visual Arts 1830-1990: Naturalism, Socialist Realism, Social Realism, Magic Realism, New Realism and Documentary Photography." The English edition which he sent comes with a handsome blue cloth cover, but I understand that the German version has a painting by Californian F. Scott Hess on the front. I wish the book had more color plates, but this is certainly the only book in my library with a chapter on "Realism in Bulgaria." I am going to masochistically will myself through this substantial book.
I hope you will take a moment and leave some comments to let me know what art books and catalogs you are reading this summer. That said, its time to grab a beer, head for the reading chair and listen for "thuds" on the doorstep.