In the Museum Without Walls, a book on the cave paintings from Lascaux sits atop Googie Redux: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture (Chronicleand a splendid book, by the way). Sometime in the not-too-distant future, perhaps, images from the vast archive of humanity will be viewed in a different form, but in the long, sumptuous twilight of the Age of the Book, we are surrounded by volumes so abundant, so incomprehensibly varied, that to contemplate even a few of them is dizzying.
Here are a few that caught my eye in particular. There's still time for last-minute Christmas shoppingand of course if you find a bookish giftcard in your stocking on Christmas morning, you might want to have this list handy. You might also want to put in a word for a book or two at your public library, where the bounty is shared.
Once again Yale University Press maintained its place as the preeminent publisher of art books. Of the many outstanding volumes they issued in 2005, one of my favorites was Vincent Van Gogh: The Drawings. If you share my fascination with drawing, I should mention that one of the books from my Top Ten list a year ago, Peter Steinhart's The Undressed Art: Why We Draw (Knopf), is now available in paperback from Vintage. Also on the drawing shelf for 2005: Gehry Draws, edited by Mark Rappolt and Robert Violette (MIT Press), a superbly designed volume devoted to the drawing of architect Frank Gehry; and The Essence of Line: French Drawing from Ingres to Degas (Penn State Univ. Press).
I wasn't able to get to New York to see the Fra Angelico exhibition, but the next best thing is the catalogue, Fra Angelico, by Laurence Kanter and Pia Palladino (Yale Univ. Press). These tableau-like paintings don't have the obvious obduracy ...1
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