Latest book reviews

Book Review: Birds: The Art of Ornithology

Art historian and author Jean Marie Carey PhD reviews the Natural History Museum's Birds: The Art of Ornithology and discovers that it is both an informative scientific exploration and a love sonnet to the birds of the air, sea, and land.  **** We, as mere humans, cannot see and feel as birds do as they navigate their habitats. Birds have immediate needs that relate directly to food availability, energy, water, and temperature, social contact, reproduction, predator detection, and shelter that are more complex than the features we perceive on their behalf as “nature.” Nevertheless, it is urgent for us to understand what...

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Book Review: America's Cool Modernism

America's Cool Modernism: O'Keeffe to Hopper, the companion book to a show at the Ashmolean Museum, tells the fascinating story of how American artists responded to the great changes of the interwar years. The Twenties announced themselves confidently, with tall, sleek buildings, flappers and jazz bands. The future looked exciting but America’s artists found it hard to join the party.  Flick through the book, and you detect a palpable sense of anxiety running through the work of the era’s painters and photographers.  The book features a powerfully atmospheric collection of artworks that range from monumental and deserted cityscapes to isolated grain silos and austere...

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Book Review: Pasta for Nightingales

Pasta for Nightingales is the translation of a 17th-century Italian ornithological study. Beautifully produced, sensitively translated and full of fascinating nuggets, this is a truly exquisite book. Originally written in 1622 by the Italian ornithologist, Giovanni Olina, this handsome hardback features some 40 or so birds and includes details on their physical attributes, tips on catching, raising and maintaining them alongside full-page reproductions of the original illustrations. The text was commissioned by Olina’s patron, Cassiano dal Pozzo, in order to get membership of the Accademia del Lincei (Academy of the Lynx-Eyed) - a group of scholars dedicated to the keen observation of nature. Pozzo also...

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Book Review: James Cook: The Voyages - the British Library exhibition catalogue

This fascinating exhibition catalogue accompanying the British LIbrary 2018 show tells the story of James Cook's three major voyages across the globe through the Library's rich Captain Cook collection.   The book is organised chronologically and features thoughtful and well-written essays that are peppered with paintings and drawings from these voyages as well as excerpts from eyewitness together. It vividly brings to life the extraordinary challenges of Cook's voyages.   Spread from James Cook: The Voyages showing Alexander Buchan's 1769 painting of expedition life on the left-hand page and 'A Man of the Island of Tierra del Fuego' and 'A Woman of the...

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Book Review: Picasso 1932

Watch the wonderful book vlogger Victoria Sadler bring to life the 'truly great' Picasso 1932 catalogue in her informative review video. If you are not already following Victoria, do take a look at her blog which is a treasure trove of incisive reviews of art exhibitions, plays and books and is required reading for any culture vulture.   Buy a copy of the book

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