Visitors around the world have traveled to Europe to see the tall spires and stained glass windows of the continent’s Gothic cathedrals: in Cologne, Chartres, Milan, Florence, York and Paris. The trappings of Gothic architecture have become shorthand for “medieval Europe”. Yet in Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe, Diana Darke investigates the Islamic origins of Gothic architecture, tracing its history through pre-Islamic Syria through the Islamic empires to the tall European cathedrals between the 12th and 17th centuries.

Yayoi Kusama and her iconic dots are instantly recognizable the world over, making the 91-year old among the (if not simply the—an article in The Guardian asks “Yayoi Kusama: the world’s favourite artist?”) most famous artists in the world. It’s clear she inspires many: one need only look at the countless collaborations or at #yayoikusama on Instagram. Her life and her art have inspired many a book and Elisa Macellari adds to the growing body with Kusama: The Graphic Novel.

Maung Shwe Yon was a highly acclaimed 19th-century master silversmith from Rangoon. Harry L Tilly, the aforementioned British expert on Burmese art, was effusive in his praise for Maung Shwe Yon. He described one of his pierced bowls as ‘the best example of this kind of work ever produced’ in his 1902 monograph, The Silverwork of Burma.

Just around the corner from Rome’s Pantheon, on the Via di Sant’Ignazio, is the famed Biblioteca Casanatense. Among its precious  books and manuscripts is an album of 76 striking watercolours made  in Goa around 1540, the work of an anonymous Indian painter for an unknown Portuguese patron.

Cherry Blossoms Sakura Collections from the Library of Congress, Mari Nakahara, Katherine Blood (Smithsonian Books, February 2020)
Cherry Blossoms Sakura Collections from the Library of Congress, Mari Nakahara, Katherine Blood (Smithsonian Books, February 2020)

Experience the splendor of the annual spring viewing of the nation’s sakura (cherry blossoms) with this stunning keepsake book. Original artwork, photographs, and objects from the Library of Congress collections illuminate the story of these landmark trees and how they came to the nation’s capital as a symbol of friendship with Japan.

Very few people (other than Anthony Janson in his monumental History of Art, published in 1968) would attempt to write a history of an entire country’s art, and even fewer could do it in one volume and cover a period from 15,000 BCE right up to the present day. Professor Tsuji does this for Japanese art with ease, elegance, humor and consummate erudition in an attractive volume printed on first-class paper and packed with quality color and black-and-white illustrations. What’s more, it isn’t a large format coffee-table book like Janson’s, which means a reader can actually curl up on a chair and read it quite comfortably. As Tsuji says, though, “to survey the vast sweep of Japanese art history was a great challenge and a daunting task;” but we are lucky that he also tells us “not only did no such book exist, but I needed one myself!”

 

 Inside the Head of a Collector: Neuropsychological Forces at Play, Shirley M Mueller (Lucia Marquand, August 2019)
Inside the Head of a Collector: Neuropsychological Forces at Play,
Shirley M Mueller (Lucia Marquand, August 2019)

Collecting objects gives enormous pleasure to approximately one third of the population, providing such benefits as intellectual stimulation, the thrill of the chase, and leaving a legacy. On the other hand, the same pursuit can engender pain; for example, paying too much for an object, unknowingly buying a fake, or dealing with the frustrations of collection dispersal.