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Books

'African American Art: The Long Struggle'

"African American Art" by Crystal A. Britton presents a broad selection of African American artists, showing how these artists struggled for inclusion in society's marketplace and survived the imposition of marginal status on them, their art, and their culture.

The journey begins in colonial America where African American artists, whether free or bonded, first express distinctive visual language. During and after slavery, Black men had a gateway to the arts through apprenticeships which refined, exposed, or provided opportunity for the expression and development of their talent in sculpture, painting, and drawing.

Britton is an independent art critic and curator whose academic interests embrace African American art and culture. Britton has presented art exhibitions by leading African American artists as the owner of the Crystal Britton Gallery in New York City.

"African American Art" discusses rural Black life, oppression, liberation, and spirituality, to name a few topics. The book, published by Smithmark, also makes a point to talk about the present day African American art.

'Leonardo Da Vinci: Origins of a Genius'

"Origins of a Genius" by David Alan Brown explores Leonardo da Vinci's creativity as it developed in his youth, with the revelation that Leonardo appears to have completed part of Andrea del Varrocchio's "Tobias and the Angel", which is housed in the National Gallery in London.

The book, published this month, also presents newly gathered technical evidence about how da Vinci painted his first pictures, including the theory that he consistently applied the new oil medium using his fingers, as well as the brush, to blend the wet paint.

The author, a noted curator, says this is the first full-length study of the young Leonardo and his earliest works. Published in September by the Yale University Press, "Origins of a Genius" is addressed to anyone interested in finding information about the early Leonardo da Vinci.

'Movements in Modern Art'

"Realism", by James Malpas, is about a kind of art that has no shared style or manifesto of intention. The book examines realism in Europe and America, beginning with its roots in the aims of Gustave Courbet in 19th century France.

The realist outlook is exemplified by Georg Grosz in his observations of urban life in Weimar Germany or, in America, in the high-focus paintings of Edward Hopper and Grant Wood. Malpas examines the so-called "socialist realism" of Stalin's Soviet Union and the condemnation in Germany of artists not conforming to Nazi "academic-realist" demands.

Also in the same series, "Minimalism", by David Batchelor, explains the work of Minimalist art, which is typically abstract, three-dimensional, modular, geometric, preconceived in design and industrial in execution. This book is an introduction that examines the implications of these characteristics.

"Minimalism" looks at the works of five key artists -- Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt and Robert Morris. Batchelor highlight some of the important differences in the development and direction of each artist's work. The publication also looks at the types of criticism and interpretation to which Minimalism has been subjected over the years. It ends in discussing how Minimalism continues to inform the work of contemporary artists. The publication has 60 illustrations of this three-dimensional art.

"Realism" and "Minimalism" are part of a series published by Cambridge University Press. Also available in that series are books on Modernism, and Surrealism.

'Salvador Dali: Exploring the Irrational'

"Exploring the Irrational" by Edmund Swinglehurst presents the works of Salvador Dali, best known as the master of surrealism. During his lifetime, he was one of the most famous and talked about figures in 20th century art.

The subjects of Dali's work, presented here in 100 full-color reproductions, were nearly always controversial, dealing with sex and the subconscious. To quote from the book's introduction, "the artist was obsessed by his personal version of traditional legends and mythology as well as with discovering via art an explanation of the universe in terms of modern physics and religion."

Dali, one of the most famous and talked about figures in 20th century art, was unlike other artists because he did not pursue new methods of expression or seek a new language of painting. Why? According to this book, he believed that the old Masters brought the techniques of painting to such perfection that it was difficult to improve on them.

The book is published by Smithmark.

Book, exhibit explore the works of Sargent

John Singer Sargent's masterpieces have been displayed in art galleries all over the world. A new book on the artist and his work, titled "Sargent", is being published by the Princeton University Press.

"Sargent" is a collection of some of the artist's lesser-known landscapes, watercolors, figure subjects and murals. The book contains 160 color prints and 80 halftones, and its publication coincides with Sargent exhibitions at the Tate Gallery in London, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston during 1998 and 1999.

Sargent's portraiture style varied from experimentation to strict formality, and his subjects are also diverse. Gents and ladies came from all walks of life, from the leaders of fashionable society to rural laborers. Sargent also painted scenes on the front line during World War I. Each work in the book is accompanied by an abstract that tells the circumstances and the meaning behind each work.

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