This is a beautiful book with a nice introduction and of course WONDERFUL images. The images are well-documented and there is a short bibliography at...moreThis is a beautiful book with a nice introduction and of course WONDERFUL images. The images are well-documented and there is a short bibliography at the end of the book. Most of the websites cited are in German or Dutch, though. There are also citations for a few articles about educational charts.
Anyway, this book is really about the pictures, and what lovely pictures they are. My only complaint is that there are only botanical and zoological illustrations. I was hoping for some human anatomy as well, and was kind of disappointed by a few of the zoological images (some of them are just not very interesting visually, although they might be representative of the medium or historically important). Most of the botanical illustrations are really beautiful, but even so, I would've been happy with fewer from each section if a third section for human anatomy could have been added. Oh well. I guess I have to find that in a different book.
This book is definitely worth owning if you're interested in natural history, scientific/anatomical illustration, or vintage illustration in general. There's so much scientific detail, but it's beautifully balanced with the design of the image. They really are works of art.(less)
Although not required, I decided to read this while taking a bookmaking class this semester. I'm glad I did, because it has given me plenty to think a...moreAlthough not required, I decided to read this while taking a bookmaking class this semester. I'm glad I did, because it has given me plenty to think about while I conceptualize and construct my final project. Smith lays out the possibilities of the "visual book" in such a clear and well-illustrated way. There are many pictures as well as diagrams and illustrations demonstrating Smith's concepts.
It does get a little tedious about 3/4 of the way in. I think Smith gets waaaay too caught up in defining series vs. sequence vs. group. It's something he actually touches on in a few chapters, and it gets to be really mind-numbing and drawn-out. However, that was the worst of it...most of what he had to say was very inspiring and eye-opening. I think the take-away from this book is that content and structure must be integrated completely when thinking about and creating a book. The two should feed into and support one another. The book format itself provides many unique opportunities for creating visual space that can't be created in other mediums; rather than trying to "fit" content into a book, the content should express itself using the book structure.
Anyway, I thought this was a great read for the most part and would highly recommend it to anyone hoping to gain a deeper understanding of artist's books. Do note, however, that this is NOT a how-to book in the sense of "how-to make/bind a book"...you'll be disappointed if that's what you're expecting. Although, Smith has published a few of that sort, too :)(less)
I enjoyed this book, but there was a lot of repetition. I noticed many common themes (threads=fragility was a common metaphor), which isn't necessaril...moreI enjoyed this book, but there was a lot of repetition. I noticed many common themes (threads=fragility was a common metaphor), which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it left me wondering why other forms of craft weren't included--forms that might have other things to "say". There is a lot of emphasis on fiber arts, knitting, and embroidery, with other crafts strewn throughout. I thought Kirsten Hassenfeld's work was some of the most amazing non-fiber art in this book--she creates intricate sculptures of metal and stained glass, and they're so whimsical; geometric and yet beautifully organic.
I was a bit disappointed by the lack of resources at the end of this book (specifically, artist websites). There is a "Contact Information" section, but many of the URLs are no longer working, or the domain has changed hands (fairly certain that the current "Evil Twin Publications" website is not the same as the duo featured in this book). Of course, there's nothing that the book editors can do about that--it's the nature of the internet. I was surprised by the number of artists who did not have their own websites, but instead just included the info for the gallery that represents them.
This book is awesome. I've looked through it before, and it goes without saying that the illustrations are amazing. But this time I decided to actuall...moreThis book is awesome. I've looked through it before, and it goes without saying that the illustrations are amazing. But this time I decided to actually read all the text, too. It's a good primer on anatomical illustration and describes some of the key historical texts and why they were important. Post-1900 isn't very well represented, and I didn't care for most of the "digital age" imges. I know there has to be better stuff out there, and while the 3D diagrams and the story behind how they were created are pretty cool, the images themselves aren't quite as aesthetically pleasing as the older illustrations and already seem dated (although I did really like the color cryosection images from the Visible Human Project). I definitely recommend reading the introductory text for that section because it is so interesting, even though many of the images are underwhelming. The "digital age" section only takes up about 30 pages of this 330 page book.
Many of the images reproduced in this book are also freely available on the web. There are citations at the end. I highly suggest checking them out if you like what you see in this book.(less)
I saw Sakabashira's illustrations before I saw his comics, so when I got this book all I really knew was that I like the way he draws, and I like the...moreI saw Sakabashira's illustrations before I saw his comics, so when I got this book all I really knew was that I like the way he draws, and I like the weirdness of his subject matter. I had actually seen a number of images from this book without knowing they were part of a larger narrative, so it was interesting to see them in context (although I'm not sure how much context is worth in such a strange tale).
Anyway, "The Box Man" really keeps you guessing and wondering what the hell is going on. The ending is hilarious. Sakabashira's drawings are beautiful and full of details. Lots of grotesque, humorous imagery. Overall: Good stuff!(less)
I haven't seen the film that goes with this book, so if there is some sort of necessary link between the two, I'm obviously missing out on it.
Overall,...moreI haven't seen the film that goes with this book, so if there is some sort of necessary link between the two, I'm obviously missing out on it.
Overall, I got a warm fuzzy "I can do it!" feeling from this book--which is great! It's very inspirational, and makes you consider how plausible it is to actually make a living off your craft. However, I found the individual profiles became redundant and only a few really stand out in my mind. The "essays" aren't particularly memorable, except for the one about the Church of Craft which is an interesting concept.
And one minor complaint: while the photos for many of the artist profiles look great, some of them seemed arbitrary and even after looking at 5 photos I only have a vague sense of what this person makes (I guess I'm supposed to feel inclined to look at their website?) I enjoy getting a peek into the studio as much as the next person, but when images of the studio outnumber images of the actual crafts...I'm a little confused.
I was hoping for a bit more of what's discussed in the introduction--how craft/DIY is political, how it relates to feminism, etc. So many interesting, critical links to be made, and this book just floats on the surface.(less)
This book collects a number of interesting essays about the filmmaker Jan Svankmajer and his work. I found Peter Hames' introductory essay (in which h...moreThis book collects a number of interesting essays about the filmmaker Jan Svankmajer and his work. I found Peter Hames' introductory essay (in which he provides an overview of Czech film history and the origins of the Czech surrealist group) and interview with Svankmajer particularly interesting.
I withhold one star for lack of variety. There is a lot of repetition about mannerism, surrealism, and puppets throughout the essays. That's not to say these aren't all important aspects of Svankmajer's work, but a little critical variation would have been nice. Nonetheless, it is an interesting read and contains a few essays that are frequently cited in other critical works about Svankmajer--particularly the essay by O'Pray--so it was nice to finally read them in their entirety rather than merely as fragmentary quotes in other essays.
The short piece by Svankmajer himself--"Decalogue"--is also a lovely little gem hidden in this book.(less)
I think this is a beautiful little book full of fantastic illustrations. I was unimpressed by the accompanying story (stories?) by Rosa Liksom. The ti...moreI think this is a beautiful little book full of fantastic illustrations. I was unimpressed by the accompanying story (stories?) by Rosa Liksom. The title story "Monsters" made no sense to me, even when I read it as magical realism. I thought the writing was quite beautiful at times, but it seemed to flounder alongside the illustrations, like the author was attempting to "keep up" with Haapaniemi's art. I think the pairing of art + writing might have been more successful with short poems or perhaps a series of very short stories (such as the tiny story at the end, "Tampere").(less)
I just started reading this book. The edition I am reading is paperback, not hardcover, so it may differ from other printings. However, I can say righ...moreI just started reading this book. The edition I am reading is paperback, not hardcover, so it may differ from other printings. However, I can say right off the bat that the image reproductions in this book are terrible (black and white, low contrast, pixelated). I'm hoping that the writing is a bit more impressive!
Edit - 1/20/2009 Taylor writes beautifully. I really enjoyed how his writing followed the chronology of Rembrandt's life, and he makes some interesting observations although I didn't find any of them mind-blowing. The book was nicely organized. A quick, enjoyable read. However, as I stated before, the image reproductions are really terrible. This becomes ever-more irritating because so much of Taylor's writing relies on poetic description. The complete lack of clarity and subtlety in the images makes it difficult to make any connection between image and text. Quite frankly, most of the images were useless, and just succeeded in taking up space (which is a shame, because they're Rembrandts, for crying out loud!).
Again, perhaps the "duotone" images in my copy of the book (paperback, appears to be an ARC) may differ in quality from those in the final hardcover edition. I certainly hope so, because this book would have been much more enjoyable if the image reproductions had been better.(less)