Thursday, December 13, 2007

Three Books for the Holidays

I recently found three new books I’d like to recommend:

I collect crèches. Recently Chicago’s Loyola Museum of Art presented an exhibit of over 100 crèches from around the world from the collection of James and Emelia Govan. What a great exhibit! I was quite surprised that I had seen none of the crèches shown. At the exhibit, I made sure I picked up the book written by the exhibitor, James L. Govan. Called Art of the Creche: Nativities from Around the World, this 208-page oversized book (11.3 x 9.8) is filled with large highly detailed color photographs of many of the pieces from the exhibit.

Italian artist Francesco Scarlatella created my favorite piece, a terra cotta family grouping of an old Joseph holding the baby in his lap, with Mary seated beside. The figures sit on volcanic stone from Mount Etna. A marvelous large vignette by Scarlatella of the wise men and family is shown in the book. Creches range from those of professional artists like Scarlatella to a myriad of folk art examples ranging from the abstract to complex, coming from such countries as the United States, Peru, Poland, Czech Republic, Mexico, Germany, France, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sweden, Swaziland, Thailand, Ghana, and Singapore (to name only a few).

I was struck by how each culture interpreted the basic details in their own image: the holy family become the common man, animals become those indigenous to the artist’s country, shepherds, and wise men. Each piece shown tells not only the story of the nativity, but also conveys much about the artist’s culture.

If you are fascinated with crèches also, you be sure to add this book to your library.

I found Terry Taylor’s book Artful Paper Dolls: New Ways to Play with a Traditional Form while on vacation in New York. Taylor has collected a large series of unique and artistic paper dolls done by a range of contributors, including Taylor. The 144 page book (10.1 x 8.7) is in full color. Including some history of paper dolls (such as, Katy Keene, Tom Tierney, original doll artists), traditional paper doll forms are contrasted with shadow box figures, wall hangings, memory dolls, accordion panel books, collage figures. The book is well laid out and offers the viewer lots of creative views of the paper doll form.

The third book is mine. Called The Paper Doll World of David Claudon, I’ve taken 17 sets of the paper dolls I’ve done over the last couple of years and put them in a large size (8.25 x 10.75) 163 page book complete with large full color pages. The book has a casewrap-hard binding. Among the subjects are The World of Samuel Pepys, Elizabeth I transformations, several Renaissance paper dolls sets--The Birth of Venus, Michelangelo and DaVinci, Shakespeare and Taming of the Shrew--Moliere, King Louis XIV, the Sun King, the World of Oscar Wilde and his Importance of Being Earnest, Theda Bara and her film Cleopatra, and Santa Claus. These are sets of paper dolls created in high detail using Adobe Photoshop CS2 and Corel Painter IX. Many of the sets have sold on Ebay. Well, here they are all collected together in book form.