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Find more Top 10 Arts Books
Rap, rock, gutsy documentary films, abstract black-wood sculptures, satirical drawings, and the unlikely link between sewing machines and the impressionists, all are explicated with zest in the best art books reviewed in Booklist over the past 12 months.
The Baroque World of Fernando Botero. By John Sillevis. 2007. Yale, $65 (9780300123593).
Colombian artist Botero’s oversize figures are instantly recognizable, but the story of his baroque sensibility, technical virtuosity, and humanitarian concerns has never before been so sensitively told, nor so much of his work so beautifully reproduced.
Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America. By Jonathan Gould. 2007. Harmony, $35 (9780307353375).
In a nuanced mix of group biography, cultural history, and music criticism, Gould skillfully analyzes how and why the Beatles became the world’s most admired rock band.
Citizen Moore: The Life and Times of an American Iconoclast. By Roger Rapoport. 2006. RDR, paper, $15.95 (1-57143-163-2).
Rapoport compares filmmaker Michael Moore to Upton Sinclair and Ralph Nader in this compelling biography of a quirky and complex man whose life is as fascinating as his controversial films.
The Clarks of Cooperstown: Their Singer Sewing Machine Fortune, Their Great and Influential Art Collections, Their Forty-Year Feud. By Nicholas Fox Weber. 2007. Knopf, $35 (0-307-26347-9).
Sewing, art collecting, architecture, sports, and family scandal––all come into play in this incisive and stimulating portrait of the American family behind the Clark Art Institute, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dr. Dre: The Biography. By Ronin Ro. 2007. Thunder’s Mouth, $24.95 (9781560259213).
Rap historian Ro presents the most comprehensive biography to date of Dr. Dre, a pivotal figure in the rap cosmos, and one of the best books yet on rap itself.
Evocations of Place: The Photography of Edwin Smith. By Robert Elwall. 2007. Merrell, $59.95 (1-85894-373-6).
Believing that photographer Smith (1912–71) had been unjustly forgotten, Elwall reclaims Smith’s stunning oeuvre, and examines his remarkable technique and aesthetic.
Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl. By Steven Bach. 2007. Knopf, $30 (0-375-40400-7).
We like to think that art is a force for good, but like everything human-made, it can be both uplifting and sinister. Hitler’s favorite filmmaker, superbly portrayed by film producer and scholar Bach, epitomizes the latter.
Saul Steinberg: Illuminations. By Joel Smith and Charles Simic. 2006. Yale, $65 (0-300-11586-5).
Artist Steinberg infused the humble line with nimble humor and moral gravitas, an accomplishment recognized with knowledge and verve in this invaluable retrospective volume.
The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legend. Ed. by Brooke Kamin Rapaport. 2007. Yale, $55 (9780300121728).
Nevelson and her black-wood sculptures were major art-world attractions in the 1970s and 1980s, only to be forgotten after her death. This dazzling book resurrects both the artist and her work in all their magical glory.
Twenty-eight Artists and Two Saints. By Joan Acocella. 2007. Pantheon, $30 (9780375424168).
Thirty stellar profiles of such diverse artists as Martha Graham and Philip Roth by esteemed critic Acocella, who seamlessly blends biography with history and enlightened and enlightening aesthetic assessments.
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